Privacy and Confidentiality: Using Scenarios to Teach Your Staff About Patron's Rights

Ann Mackay Snowman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Every U.S. state and the District of Columbia has a law on the books that protects a library borrower's privacy, both an ethical and legal obligation of the library. In addition, FERPA further restricts access to users' records. Getting the message across to staff can be a challenge, especially if you employ students or volunteers who may not share your strongly held sense of professional responsibility or nuanced appreciation. Using scenarios, or minicase studies, based on real-life experiences to generate discussion and expand the scope of their understanding can be a very effective way to transmit the message. This article outlines the method used at Penn State University Libraries to instruct frontline staff on policy, law, and the ethics of protecting the confidentiality and privacy of library users. Pedagogy of case study is discussed. Advice on designing a training session and examples are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-132
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Access Services
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Library and Information Sciences


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