Thursday, October 13, 2011

Libraries, Amazon and Privacy

Amazon Kindle owners will probably have heard by now that they can borrow ebooks from libraries (through Overdrive) and read the books on their readers. This was exciting and long-anticipated news, since Kindles are so popular among e-reading devices. There is a new wrinkle, however, making its way into librarian discussion groups. Public libraries have very strict guidelines (embedded in state laws, and American Library Association principles) about the confidentiality of library records--specifically the borrowing history of its patrons. Short of a court order, those records are erased and unavailable to anyone when a book is returned. So what about the borrowing records of Kindle ebooks? Those records, are the property of Amazon and are used to sharpen their marketing of similar books to their customers. The discussion is still in its early stages, so no one knows yet how (or whether) public libraries will be able to uphold its principles and continue to deliver ebooks in this very popular format. The Minuteman Library Network will discuss the issue in its November meeting. Stay tuned...

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