A couple of weeks ago Ana discussed privacy Mixed Reviews, Creating your Online Identity, and Follow-ups and Web 3.0, Facebook, Privacy, Identity Control on May 6 (it won’t let me link direct). Then another friend (hey Jon!) pointed me to It May As Well Be On the Front Page of the NYT.
So, what does this have to do with the library? I’m so glad you asked! Librarian creed is steeped in things like ‘get the patron the information desired’ and ‘keep the patron’s information private’. In fact, most automation systems will automatically ‘delete’ patron checkout records once the item is returned. We do not record who looked up something, just that something was looked up. Read what ALA has to say about about issues involved with the USA Patriot Act (or search [insert preferred search engine here] the topic “libraries and the patriot act” and find tons of information)
Have you ever heard of a little ol’online bookstore called “Amazon“? They do a remarkable thing – they allow their customers to review the books [and lots of other stuff] and post those reviews for the world to see. Wow! I can see what others thought before I purchase the book! Cool!
Now to the catalog, given that we librarians are vehemently against divulging the patron’s information how the heck could we add this in? Perhaps we could take a note from Evergreen which allows patrons to opt-in on retaining their borrowing history AND allows them to post reviews on materials. I do like that Evergreen does not automatically open up the patron’s record but that the patron must flip that switch.
Of course I cannot discuss adding reviews without bringing up Tim Spalding and LibraryThing! LibraryThing for Libraries can provide the LibraryThing reviews for the titles in your catalog AND allow your patrons to add reviews. Check it out, pretty cool stuff.
One big difference needs to be noted here, on social networking sites it is very easy to hide your identity. You can set up an email address for your pseudonym. In a library, where you have to show proof of identity to obtain a library card (and thus access their system), you do not have that anonymity.
I guess it comes down to, does the library decide for the patron with regards to privacy OR should the library allow the patrons to determine privacy for themselves?