The purpose of this paper is to learn how many libraries take specific measures to protect patron confidentiality other than having a written policy, to measure library directors' confidence in their own ability, and that of their workers, to follow confidentiality policies, and to learn what types of support directors need to better protect confidentiality.
A paper survey was mailed to all 213 directors of public and academic libraries in Vermont; 71 per cent responded. Data were primarily quantitative.
Few libraries reveal patron information by sending unsealed postcards, but many reveal patron information to third parties over the telephone. Library directors have a high level of confidence in their own ability to follow confidentiality policy and a slightly lower level of confidence in the ability of library workers to do so. Library directors need help in writing policy, getting access to legal counsel, and addressing the confidentiality of patrons who are minors.
Vermont library directors may be different from directors elsewhere. The study asked about two library practices that put patron confidentiality at risk; other practices should be studied, as well.
Library directors can do more to ensure that library practices do not jeopardize patron confidentiality. Library directors need help and support in dealing with practical issues that emerge as they try to follow the ALA code of ethics.
The study begins to fill a gap in the literature by measuring library directors' own assessments of their organizations' ability to cope with enquiries about patrons.
Magi, T. (2008), "A study of US library directors' confidence and practice regarding patron confidentiality", Library Management, Vol. 29 No. 8/9, pp. 746-756. https://doi.org/10.1108/01435120810917341Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited