Commentary: Protecting your privacy is the library’s top concern

Kristi Sadowski, Southington Public Library director
sadowskik@southington.org

Libraries across the country conform to what is known as the Library Bill of Rights put forth by the American Library Association. Seven policies ensure that all library patrons receive fair and equal access to information and ideas free of bias and censorship. The final policy, number seven states:

All people, regardless of origin, age, background, or views, possess a right to privacy and confidentiality in their library use. Libraries should advocate for, educate about, and protect people’s privacy, safeguarding all library use data, including personally identifiable information.

Because of this, library records are private, we do not store data on what materials a person borrows, and will not allow someone to renew another’s library card or borrow materials for them. Exceptions do exist, such as for minors and those who have completed a linked patron account request. But still, your information is your information and the Southington Public Library will protect it. This makes a recent change in the policies of one of our subscription services extremely disturbing.

Lynda.com, a database of online classes and continuing education opportunities, will be changing its terms of service. Soon the Lynda.com content will be called “LinkedIn Learning,” and to use the platform, all users will be required to create a LinkedIn social media profile including full name and email address, or connect to an existing LinkedIn profile, which will be publicly searchable. All new users creating profiles will have their profile set to public by default.

The Southington Public Library finds this in direct violation of our promise to protect your information, and we are not alone. Libraries are the guardians of information privacy in our communities.  We uphold strong ethics committed to preserving your privacy as you access information through the library.  We do not keep, disclose, or share data related to your library usage.  We have never required patrons to sign up for a publicly-searchable social media account to use a library resource, and that will not change.

The American Library Association has disavowed LinkedIn’s new terms of service and is encouraging them to change it in light of the Library Code of Ethics. Many have reached out to the organization asking them to reconsider their planned changes in service to no avail. The Southington Public Library, like many libraries throughout the country, are pulling their provision of Lynda.com content before the change occurs so our patrons are not exposed to the privacy vulnerabilities that come with the LinkedIn platform.

The Southington Public Library does offer alternatives, such as Universal Class, which offer in-depth informational classes on a wide range of subjects including accounting, computer technology, photography, art, stress, anger management, history, real estate and many more. Crafters can find classes and tutorials on Creativebug, and language learners have access to over 70 languages through Mango.

Please reach out with questions, concerns, or to request more information on one of our learning platforms at SouthingtonPublicLibrary@southington.org.

Kristi Sadowski is the director of the Southington Public Library. To learn more, visit them at www.SouthingtonLibrary.com.

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