Public Libraries and Information Privacy Policies: A Case of the Naperville Public Library and Privacy Trends in the LIS Profession


  • Michael Kornfeind Dominican University


The central role of technology in daily life undermines privacy. Many consumers accept data breaches, privacy violations and unauthorized access to confidential personal data as inevitable. However, the strict legal and ethical privacy guidelines governing public libraries demonstrates the importance of safeguarding privacy in the modern era. This case study of the Naperville Public Library analyzes internal privacy policies and includes a literature review of public library privacy issues in order to illustrate how libraries are fulfilling a commitment to privacy advocacy. The Naperville Public Library uses a series of privacy policies addressing adults, children and technology in order to outline how the library maintains patron privacy. This includes compliance with state and federal privacy laws with particular consideration to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Self-service hold areas, due data slips, cyberattacks, underdeveloped policies for IoT collections, third party vendors, chat platforms and eBook services represent key sources of privacy violations in public libraries. However, public libraries are also offering innovative privacy safeguards such as Virtual Private Network (VPN) services for library users and unique internal internet browsers embedded with robust cybersecurity features. Privacy audits, staff training, policy reviews and understanding how library vendors utilize patron data are key ways libraries can tackle privacy concerns.

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