Social media has made it to college libraries. Reaching beyond the relationship status updates on Facebook, Harvard libraries set up Twitter feeds to broadcast the titles of books being checked out from campus libraries. Readers can return books to the “Awesome Box,” creating a data trail about what they consider great. “Awesomed” selections are then publicized via Twitter. This interesting topic was found in The Chronicle of Higher Education in their article, “As Libraries Go Digital, Sharing of Data Is at Odds With Tradition of Privacy.”

As interesting as this sounds, the reading habits of library patrons raised privacy concerns. Harvard suspended the practice even though the Twitter feed did not disclose patrons’ identities. Apparently, the fear was that someone might somehow use other details to identify the borrowers.

This seems odd in the days of Goodreads and other social media sites that share hobby information. Social media continues to stretch the boundaries of public and private in other areas, so why not in the school library too?

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Data Harmony, a unit of Access Innovations, the world leader in indexing and making content findable.