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Your data, your privacy

by Evan | May 02, 2016

If you've ever called the library and asked how much you owe in fines but you didn't have your library card number with you, I hope you were politely asked to call back when you did have your number. Same goes if you wanted a reminder on what books you have on hold. Same goes if you want to know what your daughter is reading.

Privacy is a big deal for librarians. We want you to not only be free to read what you want to read, but also to feel free that no one else is tracking what you are reading. Or what music you are listening to, or what movies you are watching. It's a core library principle that if you don't have privacy in your use of the library, you don't have freedom.

Requiring your library card number in order to access your record is one way to be reasonably sure that you are the one seeking the information about you. If you loan your card to other people, well, you've just loaned your private information as well.

Librarians have become more anxious about privacy in the social media era and in the wake of federal laws that started stripping away information privacy after the 9/11 attacks. The American Library Association is a national leader in 21st century campaigns against the loss of privacy. In fact, this is the ALA's annual Choose Privacy Week, which encourages Americans to protect their privacy not only from the government, but also from criminal hackers and social media "friends." It features online forums and a lot of information links.

It's fun to zoom along the Internet without worrying about your privacy, but the same can be said, I suppose, for zooming along the Interstates without worrying about your speed. You take your chances ...

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  1. Nancy M | May 03, 2016

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