Re: Patron privacy

Jeffrey Clark (clarkjc@jmu.edu)
Wed, 29 Jan 2003 08:52:42 -0800 (PST)

Gail,

I agree with Steve's response--that it's probably a matter of your state
law in following the practice you do. We do the same. If this legal state
obtains, an ornery patron could rightfully sue the university for revealing
such information to a third party. (Of course, the privacy issue is
compromised when the tape hasn't yet been checked out by the first faculty
member but scheduled and on hold for pickup. Frequently this becomes known
to someone else--especially if s/he inquires about availability and is
willing to watch it in the media center before it is picked up by the
rightful next borrower. It's reasonable to live with that, though, and
technically doesn't violate privacy, assuming the scheduled borrower cares,
because the program hasn't in fact been checked out yet, and conceivably
may not be. Then there's the USA Patriot Act... but let's forget about that
one for now!)

I understand many faculty users' frustrations over this restriction, as
well as their frequent attitude of surprise and annoyance that "their"
video is checked out. This assumption often occurs because they feel their
subject matter is so specialized, who'd else want to watch the thing?

Continually encouraging them to schedule in advance is the only practical
solution so long as we're not yet digitally networking and delivering this
stuff. And getting them to understand and comply with their obligations
under loan policy is another.

While we're at it, a perhaps amusing and ironic observation on the problem
of getting faculty to comply with loan periods so that others aren't
inconvenienced even if they want a title without pre-scheduling it, is one
I confess I haven't yet had occasion to use publicly: One might remind the
tardy and the "I can't live within your loan period rules!" patrons that
cooperating with this arrangement is simply a novel and necessary
application of "just in time" access practiced in library services wherever
possible these days. You get a tape for the time you need it--not
necessarily the time beyond that that you want it and find it convenient to
have. It's an instance where the user, as well as the service provider, has
a role in such access. The more widely "just in time" loans are applied in
this way, the more accessible the collection is to all users regardless of
whether they plan (or can) in advance. On a final note, we (libraries at
large) often set up services with an aim to "just in time" access, that
tend really to benefit user convenience as much as (or even more than) true
need. That accounts for a large part of their popularity. When need is
compromised by convenience, however, as it often is in our non-digital
non-print collections, the latter has to give way.

Just my perverse two cents today. ;)

Jeff

--On Tuesday, January 28, 2003 1:46 PM -0800 Gail Fedak <gfedak@mtsu.edu>
wrote:

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> I would like to find out if our privacy policy is appropriate or if we =
> are being unnecessarily cautious. When a video is checked out to =
> Instructor A, and Instructor B comes to check out the same video while =
> Instructor A has it, we do not tell Instructor B who has it. Because =
> both instructors are probably using the same video in each of their =
> classes, although not necessarily on the same day at the same hour, we =
> will call Instructor A to ask if s/he can return the program early so =
> Instructor B can also use it. This works well for us 99% of the time. =
> Also, most instructors know that they can reserve videos to assure their =
> availability at a given time. Today I had an "Instructor B" who was more =
> than a little aggravated that we had checked out "his" video (one he =
> requested we purchase years ago) to an "Instructor A" and would not tell =
> him who has it. We have been trying to contact "Instructor A" for =
> several days (he's an adjunct, so is difficult to contact), but to no =
> avail. Instructor B challenged our privacy policy and inquired if the =
> "library privacy act" applied to academic media libraries. I said that =
> it did, but would ask other academic media libraries about their privacy =
> policies. Are we being too rigid about who knows what someone else has =
> checked out?=20
> Thanks in advance for your input.
> Gail B. Fedak
> Manager, Instructional Media Resources
> Middle Tennessee State University
> Murfreesboro, TN 37132
> phone 615-898-2740
> fax 615-898-2530
> email gfedak@mtsu.edu
> =20
>
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> <DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>I would like to find out if our privacy =
> policy is=20
> appropriate or if we are being unnecessarily cautious. When a video is =
> checked=20
> out to&nbsp;Instructor A, and&nbsp;Instructor B comes to check out the=20
> same&nbsp;video while&nbsp;Instructor A has it, we do not =
> tell&nbsp;Instructor B=20
> who has it. Because both instructors are probably using the same video =
> in each=20
> of their classes, although not necessarily&nbsp;on the same day at the =
> same=20
> hour,&nbsp;we will&nbsp;call&nbsp;Instructor A to ask if s/he can return =
> the=20
> program early so Instructor B can also use it. This works well for us =
> 99% of the=20
> time. Also, most instructors know that they can reserve videos to assure =
> their=20
> availability at a given time. Today I had an&nbsp;"Instructor B" who was =
> more=20
> than a little aggravated that we had checked out "his" video (one he =
> requested=20
> we purchase years ago) to an "Instructor A"&nbsp;and would not tell him =
> who has=20
> it. We have been trying to contact&nbsp;"Instructor A" for several days =
> (he's an=20
> adjunct, so is difficult to&nbsp;contact), but to no avail. Instructor B =
>
> challenged our privacy policy and inquired if the "library privacy act" =
> applied=20
> to academic media&nbsp;libraries. I said that it did, but&nbsp;would ask =
>
> other&nbsp;academic media libraries about their privacy policies. Are we =
> being=20
> too rigid about who&nbsp;knows what someone else&nbsp;has checked out?=20
> </FONT></DIV>
> <DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>Thanks in advance for your =
> input.</FONT></DIV>
> <DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>Gail B. Fedak<BR>Manager, Instructional =
> Media=20
> Resources<BR>Middle Tennessee State University<BR>Murfreesboro, TN&nbsp; =
>
> 37132<BR>phone 615-898-2740<BR>fax 615-898-2530<BR>email <A=20
> href=3D"mailto:gfedak@mtsu.edu">gfedak@mtsu.edu</A><BR></FONT>&nbsp;</DIV=
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>
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**********
Jeff Clark
Director
Media Resources (MSC 1701)
James Madison University
clarkjc@jmu.edu
540-568-6770 (voice)
540-568-3405 (fax)