“Blowing Off Class? We Know” (From NY Times)

Hey students, ever wonder what we know about you? Well, in some ways, we do not know as much as you might think but in other ways we are interacting online more than ever. This article from the New York Times, Blowing Off Class? We Know by Goldie Blumenstyk, highlights some of the issues around college data collection. It is good food for thought for college students.

You probably know that librarians have been at the forefront of privacy protections for decades. Our library does not hold data on student checkouts, use of our research tools, or use of our facility. We support the library community’s principle that researchers and readers should be able to explore topics freely without scrutiny or judgment of others.

Here is a quote from the American Library Association’s statement on privacy:

Privacy is essential to the exercise of free speech, free thought, and free association. The courts have established a First Amendment right to receive information in a publicly funded library.1 Further, the courts have upheld the right to privacy based on the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution.2 Many states provide guarantees of privacy in their constitutions and statute Privacy is essential to the exercise of free speech, free thought, and free association. The courts have established a First Amendment right to receive information in a publicly funded library.1 Further, the courts have upheld the right to privacy based on the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution.2 Many states provide guarantees of privacy in their constitutions and statute law.3 Numerous decisions in case law have defined and extended rights to privacy.4

In a library (physical or virtual), the right to privacy is the right to open inquiry without having the subject of one’s interest examined or scrutinized by others. Confidentiality exists when a library is in possession of personally identifiable information about users and keeps that information private on their behalf.5

Protecting user privacy and confidentiality has long been an integral part of the mission of libraries. The ALA has affirmed a right to privacy since 1939.6 Existing ALA policies affirm that confidentiality is crucial to freedom of inquiry.7 Rights to privacy and confidentiality also are implicit in the Library Bill of Rights’8 guarantee of free access to library resources for all users.law.3 Numerous decisions in case law have defined and extended rights to privacy.4

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