Navigating Privacy with Michigan Librarians

The question of privacy is looming every more regularly these days. Is there any privacy left? What do business owe us in terms of data security and privacy? What obligations when data is breached? What about video and images? And how does this impact the library — that bastion that claims in it’s Code of Ethics that we value, nay FIGHT for, patron privacy?

With these questions floating about, I was invited to give a three hour workshop on academic libraries, the data we capture, and our responsibilities for the Michigan Library Association Academic Libraries Conference in March.

This was a new workshop for me and there wasn’t a whole lot of time in three hours, but I was delighted to put it together for them.

My learning objectives were:

  1. Participants will document data created or gathered by their libraries and associated vendors
  2. Participants will evaluate data use cases in order to understand potential benefits and harm.
  3. Participants will begin data management plans to address data access, retention, privacy, and other best practices.  
  4. Participants will design ways to engage campus stakeholders about data practices

And yes, this quite easily filled three hours. The data documentation itself could have easily filled a morning, if I’d had a single library. With multiple libraries I defined each table as a department and gave them an inventory to start.

My data use cases were drawn from current and recent headlines. For better or worse, data breaches, reuse of data maliciously, governments intruding into private data– there was no potential shortage of topics to address.

The attendees were engaged and enthusiastic. They asked excellent questions and we identified opportunities for them to follow up at their institutions and to bring up these issues with their students –the people most affected by all of this data capture.

This aligns with some of the research I’m doing with the Data Doubles Team — we’re asking students about what their feelings are regarding all of this data capture and mining. It’s not part of the grant, though, it’s a separate focus of mine. It was the opportunity to talk not only about data management, one of my major research loves, but also about the current work I’m seeing in the student data privacy world.

I’d welcome the opportunity to give this workshop again for more academic librarians — either an individual institution or a consortium or conference. If you’re interested, please do reach out and we can discuss terms.

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