>Librarians: Privacy Superheroes

>Libraries must be beacons of privacy in an increasingly public world.

Even the small pubic library where I work does it’s part in keeping with our patrons right to privacy. In fact, we take it extraordinarily serious. Everyone who works at the library has undergone extensive training in regards to our privacy policies and all of our staff were required to take online courses in library law/policy. Our LISTEN system allows us access to extremely sensitive patron information, which we never give out, nor do we allow other patrons access to it. Information such as home addresses and email addresses are never used inappropriately (i.e., spam marketing or solicitations).

Another way we protect our patrons is by shredding all documents and labels that contain patron information. This means that every reserve wrapper is shredded almost immediately after it is removed from the book. We also fiercely protect the privacy of our patrons when it comes to what they are reading. I have had friends, husbands, siblings and bosses ask me what ‘so in so’ has out and that information would never cross to the other side of the desk.

The article was quite interesting and I very much agree with the author that libraries need to set the standard in terms of individual privacy and community based.

What do you think? Do you believe that the library goes above and beyond in regards to your privacy? Is there something more that libraries could/should do?

>Getting it on at the library, digitally

>New York Libraries: Come on in and Watch Some Porn

We have this issue now. We currently have filters setup on our public computers, but it doesn’t completely prevent people from viewing sites with adult content on them. Unless we remotely access the computers or someone complains, we can not see what the patron is viewing. Its a difficult position to put our circulation staff in as they are the ones that have to monitor the computer usage. Most of the time, a redirection towards proper behavior is enough (“Sir, there are children present in the library and that is not the most appropriate material to be viewing publicly.”).

People are very creative with their “adult content” viewing though. We have several patrons that use YouTube (VS bra advertisements, pole dancing competition videos, work out videos) and FanFiction sites. These same patrons enjoy checking out erotica (Zane mostly) and have found out that Negima contains fairly graphic images and adult situations.

As far as the freedom of speech aspect, I agree that it should be protected. In Missouri, however, we have policies that regulate the the public display of offensive or sexually explicit materials (RS MO-573.060) and this allows us to revoke computer privileges for the display of sexually explicit materials on the computer. The library system is also required by CIPA (Children’s Internet Protection Act, PL 106-554) to have filters on all library computers so that minors are protected from viewing sexually explicit materials. Individuals (17+) can request that the filters be removed, but when we remove the filters we will be able to see if the site is suitable for the patron to be viewing. These “Internet Acceptable Use Policies” are posted next to every computer and are available upon request for any patron that asks.

Missouri has some fairly tough laws on cyber porn and it helps to have these laws backing publicly funded libraries!