Privacy and Freedom of Information in 21st-Century Libraries

CoverI’m really priviledged to be a part of the latest ALA TechSource Library Technology Report, Privacy and Freedom of Information in 21st-Century Libraries. When I was given the opportunity to contribute to an issue with Deborah Caldwell-Stone, Sarah Houghton-Jan, Barbara M. Jones and Eli Neiburger…well, I said yes.

I wrote the chapter entitled “Social Networking and the Library”, and the general thrust of the chapter can be seen in this excerpt:

The central tension between libraries and social networks is simple: a social network gains usefulness when you are identifiable (people know who you are) and you share information about yourself (people know what you like). Libraries have, for years, operated under the general guideline that both of those pieces of knowledge are no ones business but yours….Taken at face value, as they relate to social networks, library ethical policies can be interpreted as directly contradictory with…privacy statements. Libraries have chosen, at times, to value privacy over access to social networks when these are in conflict. If the privacy of the patron is compromised via social networks, one possible answer is to attempt to limit access to those networks, which flies in the face of open and free access to information.

If you’re interested in the topic of Freedom of Information and how difficult holding on to library’s traditional values becomes in the 21st century, this issue is a great read. Head on over to Techsource and pick it up.


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