I. The privacy of library users is and must be inviolable.
As Thompson (1975) asserts, nobody has a clear idea of what the right to privacy really is. The right to privacy is not an absolute right, expressly defined as such, in the U.S. Constitution or Bill of Rights. Instead, it is a “cluster” of rights: the Fourth Amendment guarantees "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against all unreasonable searches and seizures," the Fifth Amendment guarantees
against self-incrimination, and the Ninth Amendment guarantees that "the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." People believe that to violate one of the rights in the cluster is to de facto violate the right to privacy. The truth is that the courts have created what we know to be the Right to Privacy today. Just as the courts can decide in favor of privacy,
they can also decide to deny it in certain cases, thus, we can have less of a right to privacy than we do today. We are dependent on the court system to continue to uphold the theory of a right to privacy.
have attached themselves to the rights of privacy with vigor and
(2003) states, “the consequentialist justification for a right to privacy is
that violations of privacy lead to harmful consequences. . . . Failing to
respect an individual’s privacy is to fail to respect his or her
autonomy.” Garoogian (1991, p. 228) states that
“morally and legally what individuals read or what information they seek is
nobody else’s business. A library user’s privacy has clearly been invaded
if a librarian reveals this information to an outsider. As indicated in
we are dealing with the consequences of the insidious
In practice and theory, the librarian has an obligation to respect and maintain the privacy of patrons and to continue to fight for this right. The ACRL maintains that policies should be in place that maintain confidentiality of library borrowing records and of other information relating to personal use of library information and services.