Over on Twitter I saw a tweet this morning: “Would displays in the library that displayed just returned titles be cool or too much of a privacy violation?”
The short answer: no, in fact, many libraries do most of their circulation from returned-book carts. (Do they teach this stuff in Liberry Skool?)
But since you raise the issue…
Ten years ago, I would have laughed if you told me I would have put my personal book collection online and shared it with the world. Now I feel remiss if I don’t get a new book into LibraryThing fast enough, and I’m irked when I return books and realize I can’t share that information with others.
That’s how much my perspective on “patron privacy” has changed in just that time — and I’m a traditional librarian, defender of the right to privacy, suspicious of gummint’s prying eyes and all that.
These days, like a lot of people, I want the option to share with the world what I read, view, listen to, eat, and photograph.
That means I want to share my current, past, future, and wished-for reading, and have that be the default. Let me deselect the rare exceptions (or even choose to never deselect).
I want to see what others read, and I want to learn where we overlap and where we are different. I want to learn from others.
I don’t want to limit my sharing to a handful of “friends” walled behind some cumbersome silo in one small database.
I don’t want to have to reinvent myself and my “friends” for every social network. I expect my networks to be aware that I have active presences elsewhere and to leverage these presences whenever possible.
I don’t want librarians to “protect my privacy” by purging my reading history from their catalogs. (One of the most useful features of Amazon for me? My purchasing history. Not just as a personal record — but as data Amazon uses to improve my experience.)
I expect librarians to protect my privacy by going to bat for me when the government or industry over-intrudes, not by designing systems that make it impossible to have an online presence in their systems.
I want companies and organizations that gather this data to use it in ways that improve my experiences — making my life more efficient, fun, and interesting — and yes, they can use it to improve their experiences, as well.