Swiss Army Librarian » Reference Question of the Week – 10/3/10 :: Brian Herzog
This is an important posting from the Swiss Army Librarian Blog site. I am currently in library school and recently learned about privacy issues and how to sensitively approach such topics as described in Herzog’s blog.
In the scenario he presented, a woman called his library and asked for information about divorce. She chose his branch and not her local library due the concern that her husband or children might learn about her queries.
I think this posting illustrates the need for discretion within the library by staff members. If our patrons feel that we are not capable of keeping our mouths shut those patrons will discontinue using the library. This would be tragic. The library is supposed to not only is a place of research, but also a place of sanctuary. It is supposed to be a place to be able to freely explore without fear of retribution or raised eyebrows.
Not knowing the circumstances of this woman’s life, it is not the librarian’s place to judge the why. Instead, it is the librarian’s place to be gentle and helpful. We can only be trusted if we prove ourselves to be trustworthy. That can not be accomplished if we place our own biases in front of the needs of our patrons.
It is imperative to respect the privacy of the patron.