'An absolute prerequisite': the importance of user privacy and trust in maintaining academic freedom at the library

Sutlieff, L. and Chelin, J. (2010) 'An absolute prerequisite': the importance of user privacy and trust in maintaining academic freedom at the library. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 42 (3). pp. 163-177. ISSN 0961-0006 Available from: http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/11577

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0961000610368916


This research investigated the importance of user-library trust in ensuring vital freedom of inquiry in academic libraries. It explored the strength of user-library trust, through comparison with attitudes towards the National Identity Card Scheme (NICS), within the various libraries of a large UK university. Comprising an online survey of students and interviews with librarians, student opposition to the NICS, and distrust of the Government was revealed. Measurement of pre-existing privacy opinions linked opposition to NICS with concerns about privacy. Students, however, were confident in library data protection practices, although some surprising discrepancies existed between user perceptions and library practices. Libraries successfully protected personal data from intrusion, but showed a certain complacency and reluctance to prioritise data protection that may be ill-advised given a climate of increasing surveillance. Librarians are advised to promote institutional privacy awareness as proactive data protection ‘champions’ in order to maintain the current “privilege” they have of user trust. The adaptation of the Westin method for measuring pre-existing privacy concerns proved a more accurate tool than the original and may be of benefit for others undertaking similar research.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:data protection, privacy, identity cards, academic freedom, trust, library policy
ID Code:11577
Deposited By: J. Chelin
Deposited On:16 Sep 2010 13:12
Last Modified:04 Dec 2016 06:02

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