So what’s the question?
If we weren’t such sticklers for privacy in our libraries, what could we do? Penny’s comment was about having swipe cards to gain access to our public toilets, to help stop the issue of vandalism. My immediate thoughts were both yes, protecting our facilities and users and no, protecting individual privacy.
But apart from the negatives we could protect from, what could we do if weren’t concerned with privacy?
We could have recommendation options such as those done by Amazon and take it further and link our users to other users who have similar interests or enjoyed the same titles. Taking it further, we could send recommendations or place holds on titles for our users, before they even realise that they would be interested in a particular title.
We could compile profiles on our users, based on their borrowing and useage patterns and then strongly focus our marketing to users who match the profile of any event or program we are running. We could then use any and all of the contact details they provide us with, to get that marketing straight to them – personalised! Or even just send them a confirmation with an opt out function.
There are plenty of more ideas out there I am sure and I would love to hear them, but having started to blog about this, I am confronted by conflicting emotions. First is excitement about the amazing level of service that we could offer to our users. Second is apprehension at anyone have control over that amount of information, even if it is initially only to be used for good! Once its collected, there are no guarantees that the line won’t move and things won’t change.
So what will happen to privacy? Are we heading to a truly open society where privacy will be an out-of-date term that doesn’t really mean anything anymore? But I think we’ll be losing out in some way, regardless of which way it goes.