Bullet Point: Dear Google, you too need to talk to librarians

Bullet Point: Dear Google, you too need to talk to librarians

I have met too many librarians who take a myopic approach to privacy. That is, privacy is so important to our members that we don’t even let them decide what information to keep or share. We just wipe all our records after some time so they don’t get caught up in the Patriot Act web. What’s worse, we feel that by creating an environment that protects privacy (by eliminating choice) we are protecting the members, when in fact the information they would expose to us is so inconsequential compared to their other activities it almost doesn’t matter.


Why people are sending naked photos of themselves over the internet every day, why should the library bother deleting borrower records?

umm, because people are stupider than you can possibly imagine. and if you collect data, it *your* responsibility to protect it and keep it from falling into the wrong hands, not the person you collected from. but the modern world shifts responsibility to the stupid, because we don't want the burden of having to deal with all this data after we've gotten our use from it.. as a librarian, I refuse to tell your friends that you check out books on any topic whether mundane or potentially alarming, ...... privacy is not like five bucks that you lose, but you can visit the ATM and get more.. once you lose it, it's gone forever. you can never get it back. so yes, the sign on the high-power electical junction box is not a suggestion for you to back your ass away, it is an absolute that you will die if you touch it... just like my privacy. and yours.

I flatly disagree with Lankes on this, as I have with others--particularly others too young to have been around during the FBI's library investigations in the late 1960s/early 1970s.

Fact is, if those records are kept, they *will* be used--either through subpoena (if you're lucky--and the Feds regularly ignore state privacy laws in those cases) or through covert methods.

So what? So you've never taken out any book where you'd care who knew that you'd taken it out? That may be true--but people change over time, people use libraries to research beliefs other than their own, and what's "acceptable" can change over time.

Libraries should make it easy to transfer your *current* circulation data to your own database, if that's what you want, or even to a shared database (e.g. LibraryThing) if you're determined to make your reading habits public. But libraries should not be retaining those records on their own. Just because we're losing privacy in many areas and giving it away in others, libraries don't need to add to the problem.

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