Protecting Patron Privacy


Although privacy is one of the core tenets of librarianship, technology changes have made it increasingly difficult for libraries to ensure the privacy of their patrons in the 21st century library.

This authoritative LITA Guide offers readers guidance on a wide range of topics, including:

  • Foundations of privacy in libraries
  • Data collection, retention, use, and protection
  • Laws and regulations
  • Privacy instruction for patrons and staff
  • Contracts with third parties
  • Use of in-house and internet tools including social network sites, surveillance video, and RFID


  • Preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • Chapter 1: Introduction by Bobbi Newman and Bonnie Tijerina
  • Chapter 2: Foundations of Privacy in Libraries by Michael Zimmer and Bonnie Tijerina
  • Chapter 3: Privacy Law and Regulation by Michael Zimmer and Deborah Caldwell-Stone
  • Chapter 4.1: Use, Security, and Ethics of Data Collection: Data Collection, Retention, Use, and Security by Matt Beckstrom
  • Chapter 4.2: Use, Security, and Ethics of Data Collection: Risks, Benefits, and User Privacy: Evaluating the Ethics of Library Data by Andrew D. Asher
  • Chapter 5: Third Party Services in Libraries by William Marden
  • Chapters 6: Library Tools: Social Network Sites, Surveillance, RFID by Julie L. Oborny
  • Chapter 7.1: Privacy Training for Staff and Patrons: The Data Privacy Project at Brooklyn Public Library by Melissa Morrone
  • Chapter 7.2: Privacy Training for Staff and Patrons: Privacy Initiatives at The City University of New York (CUNY) by Stefanie Havelka and Martha Lerski
  • Chapter 8: Conclusion by Bonnie Tijerina


“Defending library users’ rights to privately read, watch, and learn anything they want is harder to assure now than it ever has been. Newman, Tijerina, and this expert group of authors unpack the complexities of the situation and make it easy to understand. Protecting Patron Privacy is an excellent resource that will help you make the right decisions to protect users at your library.”
— Nate Hill, Executive Director, Metropolitan New York Library Council

“Protecting Patron Privacy is well-versed in history and law, grounded in theory, immersed in the lively practitioner moment. With their eyes on the horizon, the authors in this volume tackle one of librarianship’s most urgent emerging issues.”
— James LaRue, Director, American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom and the Freedom to Read Foundation

“Understanding that privacy is both an essential right in a free society and a fundamental value within our profession, Newman and Tijerina have wisely framed this LITA Guide to consider both how libraries can promote privacy to the public through education and programming and how our own practices can protect the privacy of our users. As libraries and communities change – ebooks and digital resources, mobile devices and wearables, algorithms, smart city initiatives, the internet of things – Protecting Patron Privacy offers invaluable advice and guidance to help all of us confront current and future challenges in ways that benefit our patrons and sustain our core values.”
— Miguel Figueroa, ALA’s Center for the Future of Libraries