Balancing Privacy and Strategic Planning Needs: A Case Study in De-Identification of Patron Data

Becky Yoose


The rise of evidence-based practices and assessment in libraries in recent years, combined with tying outcomes to future funding and resource allotments, has made libraries more reliant on patron data to determine how to allocate limited resources and funding. Libraries who want to use data for research and analysis but also wanting to protect patron privacy find themselves wondering how to balance these two priorities. This article explores The Seattle Public Library’s attempt to strike the balance between patron privacy and data analysis with the use of a data warehouse with de-identified patron data, as well as implications of data warehouses and de-identification as an option for other libraries.

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