Too Awesome Not to Share

As Celia mentioned in her last post, librarians have a long tradition of upholding library users’ privacy. It’s in our professional Code of Ethics!

We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.

Code of Ethics of the American Library Association (last amended Jan. 2008)

We’re quite good at making sure that library users’ records and web browsing sessions are kept private (or not kept at all), and have a great history of standing up to legislation we see as infringing on users’ right to privacy (see the NYTimes article in which we receive the now infamous radical militant librarians label, then see us put it on a t-shirt). In general, people love us for this, but people also love social media, online shopping recommendations, and seeing what their best friends just bought on Etsy. There’s a weird conflict between the kind of privacy people say they want and the kind of privacy infringement they’re willing to put up with in order to have a personalized online experience. Libraries have largely stayed out of it, but recently I came across this really cool initiative that seems to have a good balance of user privacy and personalized recommendations.


sometimes things are awesome

This project is the brainchild of the Harvard Library Innovation Lab and is being implemented at not only Harvard but a select group of public and academic libraries in the U.S. The concept is simple: Think something is awesome? Return it to a special “awesome box” or flag it with an “awesome bookmark” and library staff will scan it and have it magically appear on that library’s Awesome Page. What you read remains private, but you now have a better sense of what your fellow-library-goers are reading, watching, and listening to throughout the year.

Plus who doesn’t need a little awesome in their day?

What are your thoughts on the Awesome Box? Would something like it fly at St. Mary’s?


The Royal Birth: An Information Perspective

News and media outlets are flooded with the news:  Kate is in the hospital and the royal baby is on his or her way.  Excitement about the impending birth of the royal heir and forecasts of baby names aside, the way by which the birth will be announced is quite fascinating and of course, steeped in tradition.  I found this article from the Associated Press, which describes the exact protocol for announcing royal births.  According to the article, the official announcement will come in the form of a bulletin delivered straight from the hospital to Buckingham Palace, official with palace letterhead, posted in the frontcourt on a wooden easel – along with a post on Facebook and Twitter.

This royal birth will be the first to be announced using social media, which is not a surprise considering the last royal birth took place during pre-Internet days and social media continues to evolve and build its audience.  According to a survey conducted by the Pew Internet Project in December 2012, 83% of adults between the ages of 18 and 29 use social media sites.  Between 2008 and 2012, social media usage has jumped from 35% to 67% among online adults.

In this ever-changing digital landscape, where do you go to find news information?  A favorite online newspaper?  Social media?  Google News?


Brenner, Joanne.  Pew Internet: Social Networking.  Pew Internet & American Life Project, February 14, 2013,, accessed on July 22, 2013.

Lenhart, Amanda.  Adults and Social Network Websites. Pew Internet & American Life Project, January 14, 2009,, accessed on July 22, 2013.