38 Association of Research Libraries Research Library Issues 297 2019 Privacy in Public Libraries Bill Marden, Director of Privacy and Compliance, The New York Public Library Greg Cram, Associate Director of Copyright and Information Policy, The New York Public Library Privacy. The subject of how our personal information—including some of the most intimate details of our daily lives—gets used and sometimes abused has become a common topic in the media and in daily conversations. Americans and the world at large are trying to come to grips with a new paradigm that determines what is and what can be known about all of us through the collection of data in all its forms. Congress has made this topic a key area of focus in its current session. Senator John Thune (R-SD), Majority Whip, opened a pair of hearings last fall by stating that developing a privacy law for the United States enjoys bipartisan support. All signs point to Congress taking on the issue of privacy over the next two years, but it is not clear yet what shape the privacy law will take. As Congress develops a comprehensive privacy proposal, libraries will play a critical role in shaping that law. This article illuminates the challenges faced by public libraries, elucidates the role of libraries in the privacy landscape, and identifies new projects designed to help libraries respond to the privacy challenges presented by new technology. Today, public libraries face myriad privacy challenges, both external and internal. There is a constant need to assess and use the data that libraries routinely collect and store. Data, whether in its old-fashioned analog form (think paper call slips) or digital, is a desirable and highly sought-after commodity in our current world. On the more benevolent side of this usage is data analytics used by libraries to determine the effectiveness of their programs and resources. On the less benevolent side is the use of such data for surveillance or crime solving by law Public libraries face myriad privacy challenges, both external and internal.
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