Privacy in a Public Library

Public libraries for a long time have been associated with freedom and privacy. I understand this and have seen the debate over both topics. This short blog post is to share some of my experience involving privacy (without sharing too much).

As a public librarian I have come across quite a few people who take privacy seriously, but also use the public library to send private information. Usually in the form of legal documents. People don’t seem to know how much privacy is not guaranteed. We have policy for internet use that clearly states that this is an open internet portal and any information sent/received is not secure. Though no one seems to care.

In my year and a half at this location, I have never once been asked/seen anybody reach for the policy. This seems to be the norm for everyone in the library and outside, myself included at one time. It seems to most people privacy is expected and assumed; What most these people don’t realize is that it is not. Yahoo recently was hacked for a tonne of information on e-mail accounts, a few years ago the student loan information of 1000’s of Ontario students was misplaced on a thumb drive, and still people believe their information is safe.

As a public Librarian I logout/clear my computers regularly and do my best to protect patrons information, but these people and most of society seems to take it for granted. I have begun posting more information for patrons in my library and encourage others to do the same, people are blind and don’t realize what they are agreeing to/allowing others to steal, view, and use.


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