Content Analysis of Library Associations’ Privacy Policies in Some Countries

Content Analysis of Library Associations’ Privacy Policies in Some Countries

Ying Wang, Hao Zhou
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/jdls.2012040101
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Librarians have a long history of protecting users’ privacy; library associations’ codes of ethics in many countries also express the support for the right and some of them have made privacy policies. But the extent of library associations’ compliance with codes of ethics and content of privacy policies include is unclear. The study surveys national library associations’ privacy policies in which privacy appears in codes of ethics, which is based on content analysis of codes of ethics in Pnina Shachaf’s study. Trough content analysis approach, descriptive characteristics, readability, and content of policies are examined. The most frequently identified content categories include enforcement & redress, choice & consent; the least identified content categories are notice & openness, access by users, data security, implementation of privacy policy and privacy of special groups or activities in turn.
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Literature Review

The literature about libraries’ privacy is extensive, yet international studies are scarce. A search of EI and SSCI between 1969 and 2012 identified more articles about privacy issues in libraries than libraries’ privacy policy. Of the articles found, 38 percent were about users’ privacy issues in libraries; 25% were about the development of libraries’ privacy policy and what should be included in privacy policy. We found only one article on content analysis of library vendor privacy policy.

Privacy Issues in Libraries

First, users’ personal information is easily abused. Libraries collect personal information from users and link that information to internal library records. Although they fiercely protect the privacy of their patrons, libraries cannot ensure that personal information will remain confidential (Burkell & Carey, 2011). Second, threats from the third party may exist. Some libraries’ web sites contain external links to other web sites. However, the libraries’ web sites have no control over, and are not responsible for, the content of, or information gathered by, those other web sites (Deng & Ruan, 2009). Then users’ privacy will be brought about. Third, users’ private documents may be leaked. Users’ private documents refer to the documents which are stored in the users’ computers, such as blog, cache file. These documents would be easily used by others.

Development of Privacy Policy

Libraries are increasingly considering customer relationship management; meanwhile their privacy policies also should introduce it. To better develop privacy policy, there are three things to consider. First, libraries need to realize that clients use the library for both personal and professional reasons. This reasoning leads to the introduction of the two concepts of personal privacy and professional privacy. Second, libraries must become aware of the differences between the two concepts and clearly separate them. Finally, libraries must develop privacy policies, which consider both personal and professional privacy (Holmstrom, 2004).

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