Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Is Your Work Life Yours to Share?

This week's American Libraries includes an article about a former library assistant in Michigan who wrote a book. The book, available through a print on demand service, probably wouldn't have caused much of a stir, had the author not promoted it via e-mail, postcards and in person to patrons, many of whom are featured, not so favorably in the story.

While I haven't read the book and certainly can't speak to its veracity, this brings up an interesting conundrum.

Many librarians and other library staff vaguely ponder the idea of writing down stories of their experiences, but how much protection do library customers have? How much right do we, as library staff, have to the stories we, in fact, share with our customers? That is, we all participate in the same story, so whose rights matter most?

I try to keep things anonymous around here, but there a few readers who know me in real life. There is a chance that they will be able to identify a certain customer that may drive me particularly batty. Do I have an ethical right to share information that may easily identify someone who is unaware that their personal experiences are being shared online?

It's an ethical dilemma, and one already faced by the famous Dooce, who was fired after her website shared a bit too much about her workplace, but how does it apply when we're dealing with the general public on such a regular basis?

How much of my day is fair fodder for the sharing?

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