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Personalized Library Services or Big Brother Buffet?

At least one library (at North Carolina State University) is taking its cue from Internet services like Amazon and NetFlix. They aim to keep customer information in an effort to suggest new books and periodicals that are related to previous borrowings.

This is just like Amazon’s suggestions feature which, admittedly, has gotten better over the years but used to have a tendency to offer hardcore frying pans. I imagine the library’s suggestions will have a similar period of maturation to go through.

As usual, privacy issues are raised. Under the Patriot Act, the U.S. government may obtain this information from libraries. (Activate Colonel Klink voice: “I zee you haf checked out Mein Kempf last Hanukkah. Very interestink!”) Yet, proponents say the use of such technology can increase the customer experience. Personally, I’d rather not have the library offering half-assed suggestions for me because I checked out If You Give a Mouse a Cookie for my daughter, but that’s just me. (Humor me and assume that I actually go to the library instead of dipping into one of my boxes of obsessive-compulsively purchased books. :))

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

2 Comments on Personalized Library Services or Big Brother Buffet?

  1. John, the anti-librarian.

  2. On the contrary, I love librarians…every chance I get. (Ba-dum, crash!) I have the trading cards to prove it.

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