Protecting Patron Privacy
Safe Practices for Public Computers
by Matthew Beckstrom
June 2015, 104pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Paperback: 978-1-61069-996-9
$55, £43, 48€, A76
eBook Available: 978-1-61069-997-6
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Make your library a protected research center that guards the privacy of your Internet users.

Protect patron privacy and safeguard Internet usage using this how-to manual for creating a secure environment in your library. You'll learn how simple changes to your policies, procedures, and computer settings can ensure a private and safe research space for users.

In a world where almost anyone with computer savvy can hack, track, and record the online activities of others, your library can serve as a protected haven for your visitors who rely on the Internet to conduct research—if you take the necessary steps to safeguard their privacy. This book shows you how to protect patrons’ privacy while using the technology that your library provides, including public computers, Internet access, wireless networks, and other devices.

Logically organized into two major sections, the first part of the book discusses why the privacy of your users is of paramount importance, explains the applicable laws and regulations related to patron privacy, and delves into the mechanics of security breaches on public computers. The second half outlines the practical steps you can take to preserve the rights of library visitors by working with computer and mobile device configurations, network security settings, and special applications.


  • Offers clear, practical instructions on how to better ensure privacy in the library
  • Traces the history of libraries providing privacy to their patrons
  • Includes simple examples of programs, browser changes, and procedural changes that libraries can use
  • Introduces the way that the Internet and browsing works
  • Covers federal and state laws governing privacy issues
Matthew Beckstrom is a systems manager at Lewis & Clark Library, Helena, MT, and a frequent presenter at conferences on library technology and privacy. Previously, he held several board positions for the Montana Library Association. He received his master's degree in information science from the University of North Texas.


"Librarians teaching the Internet to patrons, or managing public workstations, will find this a solid introduction to privacy concerns."—Technical Services Quarterly, May 9, 2016
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