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""Privacy, Security, and Service: Squaring the circle between multiple influences in Scottish Public Libraries"." K. D. Thurgood. S. Buchanan. Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Strathclyde. 2016. Download PDF (BibTeX) ILS

This study considers the topic of privacy, how this concept is understood within the library profession and how that understanding is reflected within the policies governing the operation of public libraries within Scotland.

Consideration is first given to the historical and theoretical background of thought surrounding privacy, identifying privacy as neither an absolute, nor binary right, but as a qualified right - one whose protection should be balanced against the need to protect others from harm. The study then seeks to formulate a clearer understanding of what privacy is in the context of a public library through the application of discourse analysis to the discourse on privacy of three major professional librarianship bodies - CILIP, IFLA and the ALA, and selected sources from the United Kingdom's Information Commissioner. A broad consensus is noted on the purpose and nature of privacy within the Public Library environment.

In the second stage of the study policy documents relating to privacy from Scotland's 32 public library authorities are studied. A qualitative analysis of these finds that the concept of privacy held by the library profession is only reflected to a limited degree policy, and that little policy reflects the specific nature of the public library context. Public library policy is primarily focused on meeting the requirements of the Data Protection Act, with little consideration being given to the broader elements of privacy or to a rational for it beyond the requirements of the Acts. Little consensus is found on how and what should be communicated to patrons regarding privacy issues.

Recommendations are made for further research and for ways in which the profile of privacy can be raised within the public library sector. Practical recommendations are also made in regard to the adoption of a common baseline for Privacy Statements to ensure that library patrons across Scotland receive at least a minimum consistent degree of information regarding their privacy.