The right to privacy is one of the foundations upon which our libraries are built. Privacy is one of the key reasons libraries are such a trusted part of every community. In a world that thrives on surveillance and data mining, libraries provide a safe place for users of all ages to seek out information free from unreasonable intrusion into or surveillance of their use. As libraries across the world have shut their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we face the challenge of upholding our commitment to not monitor, track, or profile an individual’s library use beyond our operational needs.
Have you ever thought about privacy in the context of wellness? Digital wellness is an approach that seeks to align wellness goals and habits with respect to technology use and the benefits of privacy for well-being. Digital wellness is about exercising conscientious connectivity to achieve a healthy balance between the benefits and harms of technology and personal information disclosure.
Even during a public health emergency, libraries should continue to adhere to their mission and stand by the law and ethical standards that govern the provision of library services.
As libraries continue adjusting services and moving toward more virtual programming options, we’ve often found more questions than answers. As we experiment, share, and grow together, we’ll continue improving how we interact with and touch our communities, even if our physical spaces are inaccessible. It’s important that as we do so, we don’t overlook a critical piece of library services: patron privacy and security.
Through NYC Digital Safety, more than 1,000 library staff across New York City’s five boroughs have now been trained in digital privacy and security, using published online resources specific to data privacy in the library environment. These resources are available for use by libraries across the country.