Friday, September 28, 2007

Library holds and privacy issues

Here's an interesting story about privacy issues relating to how libraries make holds available for their patrons to pick up. According to the article, the public library in question leaves the holds out on shelves where patrons can retrieve them, much in the same way that the UofA's Rutherford Library or the Edmonton Public Library does. The problem is that instead of using the first four letters in the patrons name and/or the last four digit in their library card number, private information is in full view (for example, people passing by can see the full name of the person who put the book on hold). And, while it is true that most people have nothing to hide, I think that I would be hesitant to put anything of a sensitive nature on hold. The examples that Mr. Jaffa (the patron who pointed out the issue) pointed out are good ones - I wouldn't want anyone to know if I needed resources on divorce or cancer. Those are private issues and the library ought to try and keep them private.

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