Changing Face of Privacy

I’m leading a webinar on Facebook tomorrow, and because of that, I’ve been thinking a lot about changes I’m seeing in online privacy.

So, as librarians, we historically have been defenders of our patrons’ right to privacy. It’s in our Code of Ethics: “We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.”

On the opposite end of that are some pretty hip social media companies, like Google Plus and Facebook. Those two companies seem to have an unstated goal of making our world open and transparent … or at least, as open and transparent as we want to be.

Facebook does this by setting default privacy settings to Public. Google Plus does this (at least for now) by requiring us to use our real names on accounts.

Interestingly enough, some of our library tools are pushing for openness in different ways, too. Here are two examples of that:

  • Many of us are familiar with the Overdrive/Amazon deal. Amazon knows what your patrons have checked out, because they send them an offer to buy the ebook 3 days before it’s due. Amazon is, in essence, using what us librarians consider private info that we would never share, to sell ebooks to our patrons. It’s actually a handy thing to do… but flies in the face of our privacy ethics.
  • My library is in the process of moving to Polaris for our ILS/Library catalog. One really cool feature we’ll be getting is public lists. As a patron, I will be able to keep a list of books that I’ve read … and make that public, embed it on my blog, etc, via an RSS feed. It’s an opt-in feature, but still… very public, and very different from what us libraries have traditionally done.

This brings up quite a few questions in my mind:

  • Are libraries ready for opt-in/opt-out transparency?
  • Are we ready to check TOS agreements to catch and discuss things like that with vendors?
  • Some of us are bound by local or state laws on privacy. Are we ready to have discussions about those laws?
  • At the ALA level … are we ready to start discussing potential changes to our code of ethics and other privacy-driven discussions at a national level?
  • Are you ready to protect your own level of privacy
  • Are you ready to learn privacy settings in each online tool, and teach these to your customers?
So – what do you think? And how is your library addressing privacy issues online? I want to know!

Facebook in the Library – an ALA Techsource Webinar

ala tachsourceWanted to make sure you know about this – on November 2, I’ll be leading an ALA Techsource webinar on Facebook. It’s titled Facebook in the Library: Enhancing Services and Engaging Users.

And here’s the blurb about it:

Around 154 million Americans—51 percent of the population—are now using Facebook, according to a recent study by Edison Research. How effectively are you using this direct, free means of communication to reach out to your library’s patrons and users? Digital branch and social networking innovator David Lee King will share what he’s learned from years of experience and experiments with the Topeka and Shawnee County’s Facebook page. He will answer your questions and share time-saving tips on getting the most out of using Facebook.

Topics include:

  • Fundamentals for setting up and managing your Facebook page
  • The difference between a personal Facebook profile and an organizational Facebook page
  • Planning content for your library Facebook page
  • How to engage the library’s Facebook fans
  • How to market your library through a Facebook page

You’ll need to register for this event, but it should be a good one if you are interested in expanding your library’s Facebook presence!

Gina Millsap is Running for ALA President!

Gina Millsap, my library’s Executive Director, is a candidate for ALA president for 2013-14! Sweet!

Below is a little info about her from the ALA press release. Before that though  … I LOVE working for Gina. She really knows her stuff, she knows technology, and she knows libraries. And I think she’d make a great ALA president that would actually move the organization forward. Then again, I might be a tad bit biased, too :-)

OK … and now for the press release stuff from ALA:

“Millsap is the Chief Executive Officer of the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library in Topeka, Kan. She is nationally known for presenting on cutting edge issues, including 21st century librarianship, process improvement, the use of market segmentation to grow and develop library services and the changes necessary for libraries to thrive in the 21st century.

Millsap has been a continuous member of ALA since 1995 serving as the 2009-2010 president of the Library Leadership & Management Association (LLAMA). She has served on several committees within LLAMA. She also served on ALA’s Advocacy Coordinating Group, 2007-08 and as chair of the Elizabeth J. Futas Catalyst for Change Award Jury, 2002.

She served as president of the Iowa Library Association (2002) and has held leadership positions in the Kansas Library Association (Secretary 2007-2008), the Missouri Library Association (Secretary 1985-1986), the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce, the Ames (Iowa) Chamber of Commerce, and the Ames Convention and Visitors Bureau. From 2004-2009, she participated in the American Bulgarian Library Exchange. She has been a Rotarian for 15 years and a United Way volunteer in both Ames and Topeka. Current community leadership includes serving on the United Way On-Grade Achievement Council and as the co-chair of Heartland Visioning, a community-wide strategic planning process for Topeka and Shawnee County.

Millsap’s honors include Library Journal Mover and Shaker (2007); Zonta Club, Topeka Chapter, honoree for International Women’s Day (2007); and the State of Iowa Governor’s Volunteer Award (2000).

She has a B.A. in library science from the University of Missouri (1976), and an M.A. in library science also from the University of Missouri (1977).

“ALA will be relevant to all generations of librarians by making value to its members its top priority,” Millsap said. “The bottom line is – to create a 21st century library we need 21st century librarians.”

Get the rest of the press release, and info about Barbara Stripling (the other candidate) here. To be fair, Barbara sounds great, too …should be a fun election time!

Seriously Social: Focus on Facebook (new presentation)

I recently gave this presentation at ALA11 and at the Virtual ALA11 conference, along with Kolene Allen who focused on Twitter. Both sessions went well … and someone has been asking me to post my slides! So here they are:

In my part of the presentation, I talked about what libraries can do with Facebook Pages, and why they might want to use Facebook Pages to reach out to customers.

If you’re interested, this fall (November 2) I’ll be doing a 90-minute version of this, through the great ALA Techsource webinars – stay tuned for that later on this year!

Do Filters Work?

I just read Andy Woodworth’s post about filters, and was reminded about something. A couple days ago, I visited my church’s website while in the library. We filter both public and staff computers … and guess what I found (see the image above)? My church’s website was blocked, because 8e6 (our filtering provider) thinks it’s a porn site. Wow – my church is apparently much wilder than I thought!

  • OK – first off, my church isn’t really all that wild. Probably much the opposite!
  • Second – it’s most likely filtered because of overblocking. Some web filters block whole webhosting services because of content. For example, if the webhoster hosts 20 “naughty” sites and 2 “nice” sites, all 22 sites will be labeled “naughty” (until someone tells the filtering company they’re wrong – then they usually correct the problem).

Do filters work?
Honestly, yes and no. Yeah, sure – most of the “usual sites” can be blocked (but not all – filters don’t catch everything). And no – the example above is a great example of a filter in action, unfortunately.

Another complaint
I’m also going to complain about the Safelibraryproject website, and the ALA page they quote (from the Office of Intellectual Freedom). Because both sites seem to be putting a bit of spin on their ideas, to prove their points. Plus, there are some glaring problems on each page. Here’s what I mean:

Let’s start with Safe Library Project:

  • Just being picky here – guys, please get a proofreader! Your About page is labeled “Abou” – which would be forgivable if it weren’t for some other errors on the “Abou” page that could have easily been caught by proofing your content. Errors like these:
    • “Most all pornography commercial websites is hardcore” I think you meant “are” …
    • “the overwhelming amount of Internet porn is be soft-core” I think you meant “is” …
    • “This in not accurate” You are correct – not accurate at all!
  • Enough grammar cop stuff. How about this? “Most all pornography commercial websites is hardcore and therefore can be charged by prosecutors as obscene.” - ok. Can you prove that, with citations?
  •  “The seemingly endless number of free porn sites depicting actual or simulated sex and other lascivious depictions are also hardcore and can be charged as obscene.” Again, ok … “seemingly endless” … proof? With citations? “can be charged as obscene” … again – proof?
  • “Does ALA really think the American public is so uninformed…” The information you quote wasn’t really meant for the “American public.” It was meant for libraries creating public PC and Internet Access policies.
  • “The ALA site also strongly suggests that Internet filters are inadequate” – well, yeah – there’s a reason for that. See my example above.
I have no issue with their viewpoint (though I don’t agree). Viewpoints differ, and you have to have two sides for a debate. But if you make broad statements like they do, you should back them up with facts. Or you’re just blowing smoke.
And now for ALA. Go to the page Safe Library Project quotes (you have to copy/paste the link text, since for some odd reason they didn’t actually make it a link). I think some improvements are in order here, too. For example:
  • The paragraph Safe Library Project quotes is an odd one, to me anyway. For example … “In the millions of Web sites available on the Internet” – way more than “millions” now.
  • “there are some—often loosely called “pornography” – Loosely? What? Where did that statement come from?
  • “A very small fraction of those sexually explicit materials is actual obscenity or child pornography” - ok. That’s also pretty broad statement. Can you prove that, with citations?
  • This info hasn’t been updated for 10-11 years. A LOT has changed on the web in 11 years. Maybe time for a rewrite?
  • The “Related Files” link at the bottom of the page is a broken link. That makes ALA look a bit shabby IMHO.
So – phooey on the spin. Do you filter? Does it work? Do people complain? Is it as bad as the Safe Library Project people think? I don’t think so – what about you?