Patron Privacy Protections in Public Libraries

Tian Wang, Chieh-Li Chin, Christopher Benner, Carol M Hayes, Yang Wang, Masooda Bashir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Public libraries are an invaluable institution in the United States, and the digital revolution has posed many challenges for them. With the American Library Association’s updated “Library Bill of Rights” and public library services increasingly moving online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the protection of patron privacy in public libraries is an important and timely topic of study. However, there is a lack of empirical data regarding privacy practices and the challenges that public libraries face. To fill this gap, we conducted an online survey that was sent to more than 12,500 public librarians across the country to study the state of patron privacy practices and challenges in public libraries. This study is the first of its kind on this topic. Our results show that patron privacy protections vary drastically depending on the library’s size and service area. This study provides essential knowledge for administrators and policy makers in public libraries.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-312
Number of pages19
JournalLibrary Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2023


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