Introduction: The “Privacy” Special Issue of the Journal of Intellectual Freedom & Privacy

Michael Zimmer


Within libraries, a patron’s intellectual activities are protected by decades of established norms and practices intended to preserve patron privacy and confidentiality, most stemming from the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights and related interpretations. As a matter of professional ethics, most librarians protect patron privacy by engaging in limited tracking of user activities, instituting short-term data retention policies, and generally enabling the anonymous browsing of materials. These are the existing privacy norms within the library context, and the cornerstone of what makes up the “librarian ethic.”

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