New Publications on Privacy and Library 2.0

I’m pleased to announce two recent publications of my work exploring the implications of Library 2.0 platforms and applications for patron privacy. These represent early thinking on this complex relationship between privacy and web-based delivery of library services, and I intend to continue investigating this through a multidisciplinary assessment of the motivations, design, deployment, and impact of Web 2.0-based tools and technologies within public and academic library settings.

The first publication is a conceptual piece outlining various privacy and ethical concerns with Library 2.0:

Zimmer, M. (2013). Patron Privacy in the “2.0” Era: Avoiding the Faustian Bargain of Library 2.0, Journal of Information Ethics, 22(1), 44-59.

As libraries begin to embrace Web 2.0 technologies to serve patrons—ushering in the era of Library 2.0—unique dilemmas arise in the realm of information ethics, especially regarding patron privacy. The norms of Web 2.0 promote the open sharing of information—often personal information—and the design of many Library 2.0 services capitalize on access to patron information and might require additional tracking, collection, and aggregation of patron activities. Thus, embracing Library 2.0 potentially threatens the traditional ethics of librarianship, where protecting patron privacy and intellectual freedom has been held paramount. The question is not whether libraries will move toward Library 2.0, but how they will do it, and whether they can preserve the contextual integrity of patron privacy and maintain their professional librarian ethic, while also providing enhanced services to their patrons. This article will provide an ethical examination of the emergence of new Library 2.0 tools and technologies in relation to existing ethical norms of information flow within the library context. By doing so, librarians and information professionals will be better situated to avoid—or at least renegotiate—the impending Faustian bargain regarding patron privacy in the “2.0” era.

The second is more empirical and intends to help understand how practitioners writing about Library 2.0 in professional publications discuss and address related privacy and ethical issues:

Zimmer, M. (2013). Assessing the Treatment of Patron Privacy in Library 2.0 Literature, Information Technology and Libraries, 32(2), 29-41.

As libraries begin to embrace Web 2.0 technologies to serve patrons – ushering in the era of Library 2.0 – unique dilemmas arise regarding protection of patron privacy. The norms of Web 2.0 promote the open sharing of information – often personal information – and the design of many Library 2.0 services capitalize on access to patron information and might require additional tracking, collection and aggregation of patron activities. Thus, embracing Library 2.0 potentially threatens the traditional ethics of librarianship, where protecting patron privacy and intellectual freedom has been held paramount. As a step towards informing the decisions to implement Library 2.0 to adequately protect patron privacy, we must first understand how such concerns are being articulated within the professional discourse surrounding these next generation library tools and services. The study presented in this paper aims to determine whether and how issues of patron privacy are introduced, discussed, and settled – if at all – within trade publications utilized by librarians and related information professionals

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