Library Patrons’ Privacy: Questions and Answers

Libraries Unlimited Jan. 2022. 152p. ISBN 9781440874109. pap. $65. PRO MEDIA
Valenti (Emporia State Univ.), Brady D. Lund, and Matthew A. Beckstrom (Lewis & Clark Lib., MT; coauthor with Lund of Casting Light on the Dark Web) present a basic introduction to patron privacy issues. Each chapter begins with a scenario (a librarian who finds an unattended flash drive; a librarian who notices someone monitoring another patron’s computer use). After identifying the issue and describing fictional employee’s decision or action, the authors offer potential solutions, including the perspective of practicing librarians, examples of library policies, pertinent ALA statements, opinions from other fields (e.g., IT professionals), researchers’ recommendations, and, finally, the authors’ own opinions. Some sections include useful diagrams (e.g., a photography decision tree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) and discussion of the impact of COVID. The chapter on the deep web is especially valuable. A bibliography, a glossary, and a detailed index round out the work. Other, similar titles concentrate on specifics, such as the tech side (networks, resource licensing, security), Deep Web, specific privacy issues, ALA statements, and privacy laws, making this a unique work.
VERDICT A superb starting point that emphasizes the importance of library policies while simultaneously showing that policies cannot render the final solution when privacy issues arise. Will interest LIS students and faculty and all types of library administrators, staff, board members, IT, and governing authorities.
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