Digital Privacy: Oxymoron?

Ever wonder why you can’t check your library record to see which items you checked out over the past year? Well, libraries take pride in their confidentiality clause that protects all library patron data from scrutiny. For instance, suppose your interests could be deemed controversial or suspect, that judgement would not be made towards your borrowing habits in a library. Libraries are bastions of intellectual freedom and supply unbiased information on a variety of topics. Working in a music library, the controversy level is a bit diminished with issues like “Milton Babbit: Isolated Iconoclast or 20th century Genius?” or “Does the Recreational Drug Habits of Berlioz Make Him Untrustworthy?” But the point is that your intellectual curiosity is your business, and yours alone. So, once you return a book, any record showing you had it out simply disappears from our database. Even we librarians can’t access this information (although we can find a lot of other stuff).

It is the violation of this clause that has Sarah Houghton so mad.

We’ve spoken about the tailorization of personal search habits becoming invasions of digital privacy. With the mad rush towards technology and boy-howdy awe of whiz-bang gadgets, we may have lost sight of our personal rights as individuals. All interesting fodder to consider as we embrace the digital future.


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