[Libs-Or] Tuesday Topic - Protecting Student Privacy in K-12 Libraries

Miranda Doyle doylem at loswego.k12.or.us
Tue Mar 31 08:02:23 PDT 2015

Welcome to another installment in a monthly series covering topics with
intellectual freedom implications for libraries of all types.  Each message
is prepared by a member of OLA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee.  Look for
our message on a Tuesday each month of the academic year except December.
Questions can be directed to the IF Committee member who sent the message
or to one of the co-chairs of the IFC <http:///h>.

*Protecting Student Privacy: Challenges for Oregon K-12 Libraries*

If you work in a school library, you may face situations like these:

●      A principal asks for the names of all students who have checked out
books or ebooks on graffiti art, or searched the databases for that topic.

●      A parent asks to see a list of all the items their child has
borrowed this school year, and also their Internet search history.

●      A student really needs a book, but it’s checked out. The student
asks for the name of the person who has it now.

●      A library assistant is frustrated that students rarely return books
on time, and posts a list of overdue books -- with a student name next to
each title -- on the library door.

●      A parent calls and asks which books an 11th grader has lost, so that
their family can look around the house before sending in a check.

Without clear policies and guidelines, it’s hard to know what to do.

The information in this post will hopefully be useful to librarians and
library assistants who work in school libraries. *If you work in a public
or academic library, you can help K-12 schools become more familiar with
privacy issues.* When you visit a school library or collaborate on a
program, you can share your own privacy policies and ask how the school
handles similar situations.

 What can you do now? Become familiar with the American Library
Association’s Library Bill of Right
<http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill>s as described in An
Interpretation of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights
- Privacy
The “right to privacy is the right to open inquiry without having the
subject of one’s interest examined or scrutinized by others”. Libraries
should keep “personally identifiable” information about patrons private. If
students are to have “freedom of inquiry”, their circulation records,
databases searches, and reference questions should be protected.

*What can school library staff do before the next question arises?*

1.    Read more about the issues involved, including “The Privacy Problem”
<http://www.slj.com/2011/04/librarians/the-privacy-problem/#_>, an article
from School Library Journal that raises many interesting questions.

2.    Research the relevant laws related to student privacy and school
libraries, including Oregon Revised Statutes 192.410 to 192.505
and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
<http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/lea-officials.html> (FERPA).
The American Library Association has additional information on FERPA as it
relates to school libraries

3.    Write up a privacy policy for your school library. You may want to
refer to the "Position Statement on the Confidentiality of Library Records
from the American Association of School Librarians and the American Library
Association’s information on developing privacy policies
The Oregon Library Association also has an Intellectual Freedom Toolkit

4.    Make sure that everyone who works in the library and has access to
patron records is aware of policies and procedures related to privacy.

5.    Look carefully at what types of records your school library keeps,
and how long you keep them -- including electronic circulation records.
Also, check your agreements with third-party ebook and database vendors to
make sure that they are safeguarding personally identifiable patron data.

6.    Encourage parents to talk with their children about their reading
habits, books checked out, and library use. Many library circulation
systems allow patrons to log in to their library accounts to view overdue
items, books on hold, etc., and parents can ask their children to do this
if they have questions about library fines or lost books.

7.    Know where school library staff can get help when questions arise.
For information and assistance, contact Katie Anderson, Oregon Intellectual
Freedom Clearinghouse Coordinator, katie.anderson at state.or.us, 503-378-2528.

*For Further Reading*

Adams, Helen R. *Protecting Intellectual Freedom and Privacy in Your School
Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited, an imprint of ABC-CLIO, 2013. Print.

Blue Skunk Blog post on Library Records and Student Privacy

OLA’s Intellectual Freedom Toolkit - Privacy

Scales, Pat R. *Protecting Intellectual Freedom in Your School Library:
Scenarios from the Front Line. *Chicago, American Library Association, 2009

Miranda Doyle

Intellectual Freedom Chair, Oregon Association of School Libraries

OASL representative to the Oregon Library Association’s Intellectual
Freedom Committee

Teacher-Librarian, Lake Oswego School District
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