According to the American Library Association's website, "Privacy has long been the cornerstone of library services in America." Librarians across the nation are at the forefront of ensuring access to information without surveillance and with a high level of individual privacy.
Article III of the American Library Association Code of Ethics states, "We protect each library user's right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted." In an effort to promote the importance of individual privacy as well as the role libraries play in protecting that privacy, the American Library Association celebrates Choose Privacy Week May 1-7.
"The library card is the key to making this possible," Gunn explains. "An individual's library card or library account number gives them access to library resources and information in the same way that a credit card gives a consumer purchasing power. We would encourage our patrons to regard and safeguard their library card in the same way they do their credit and banking information. If a card is lost or stolen, it should be reported to the library immediately."
Along with patron records and use, a big concern for libraries in protecting patron privacy is the management of public computers and internet browsing. Delta County Libraries took measures in 2016 that further safeguard patron privacy in this area.
The technology services provided by the recently implemented Marmot Library Network give libraries additional tools to ensure privacy. "The software we have now guarantees that our public computers re-boot between each use so that patron browsing history as well as potential account information or log-ins are automatically cleared," says Markee Travis, technology manager for Delta County Libraries. "Our patrons can be certain that any information they search for or share using our public computers or internet will be cleared directly following their use."
As libraries evolve to meet the growing and changing needs of the communities they serve, so do the considerations and strategies for protecting patron privacy. "Choose Privacy Week is a great reminder for libraries to take a look at their practices and be sure that they are doing everything within their power to protect patron privacy," Gunn says.