virtual reference, privacy
Library and Information Science
Librarians have a tradition of supporting patron confidentiality, historically putting systems in place to protect it. Some of todays library systems, like sophisticated digital reference tools, now collect detailed patron information. Collecting this information could make patron privacy more vulnerable, but it can also help librarians improve service. Librarians who create policies about storage of information and request assistance from vendors should be familiar with the current privacy environment and solicit input from patrons; however, most librarians know very little about the opinions and needs of their patrons in this area. Are library patrons concerned about keeping their personal information private? Or do they appreciate the customized service sharing it provides? Do virtual reference patrons expect complete confidentiality of their reference transactions? Or do they trust the library and want it to use all information necessary to help them find information quickly? This paper will respond to these questions based on patron survey responses, other published research, news of the current environment, and informal conversations with patrons. This paper applies to librarians interested in ethics and values, as well as those working with virtual reference.
VanScoy, Amy and Megan Oakleaf. "Online Privacy vs. Enhanced Virtual Reference." Proceedings of the ACRL Eleventh National Conference. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2003.