Keeping and Deleting Patron Records in Law Libraries » VoxPopuLII | The Information Specialist's Scoop | Scoop.it

Benjamin Keele:

"As researchers use materials in libraries, their actions tend to generate records—research trails in digital databases, lists of borrowed books, and correspondence with librarians. Most of the time, these records are innocuous, but to facilitate freedom of inquiry, librarians generally hold these records as confidential. This confidentiality is especially important in law libraries because legal matters can be very sensitive and stressful. Researchers implicitly trust librarians with at least hints of concerns the researchers would prefer not be generally known. If researchers knew any records of their questions could become known to others, some researchers would avoid using library collections or asking librarians for advice, guidance that very well may help them find valuable information.

In her interesting post, Meg Leta points out that, despite some exhortations that information on Web lasts forever, most information now online will disappear at some point. Websites go down when their owners fail to pay hosting fees. Data is deleted, either by purpose or mistake. A file sitting on a drive or disc will, without maintenance, eventually becomes inaccessible because the storage media has decayed or because the hardware and software needed to read the file has become obsolete. Since information will tend to vanish without action on our part, Leta suggests we should instead focus on actively saving information that is worth keeping.

Leta makes an excellent point, but I’d suggest that in addition to thinking carefully about what information needs to be kept, legal professionals also should consider whether certain types of information warrant purposeful destruction. I’d also suggest that for law libraries, patrons should be given the ability to retain, either through the library or themselves, records of their use of library resources."


Via Karen du Toit