Data Doubles team member Kristin Briney recently published the article “Data Management Practices in Academic Library Learning Analytics: A Critical Review” in the Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication. The article takes a critical look at the data practices in published learning analytics studies from academic libraries.
While there are several publications about the ethics of learning analytics in libraries, including those written by other members of the Data Doubles team, little is know about how practical data handling affects patron privacy. Briney’s research shows that libraries are collecting a wide range of data, retaining that data for long periods, failing to anonymize the data, and saying very little about consent or opt in/out. In the absence of strong security (about which little is published), many of these data practices increase the risk of a patron privacy violations.
Data handling practices have very real implications for patron privacy but, as seen in the SPEC Kit authored by the Data Doubles team, there is definitely room to improve practices. Briney’s article provides a window into these gaps with the hope that better data handling will lead to better protection of patron privacy.