[Eril-l] virtual reference and confidentiality, privacy and "creepy" factor

Wentz, Erin erin.wentz at mcphs.edu
Wed Nov 29 17:19:16 PST 2017

Hello Melissa,

While the university as a whole and our IT department have policies, we do not have library-specific policies. I did some investigation of local libraries a year / year-and-a-half ago and found that most of the libraries near us also relied on their university's / IT department's policies.

That said, I think this would be an excellent idea for an ALCTS eForum discussion ( See http://www.ala.org/alcts/confevents/upcoming/e-forum ). eForums are free for anyone to participate in and the website has a page where you can propose a topic. I am not certain how topics are selected or if the person proposing the topic needs to lead the discussion, but I am sure the coordinators would be willing to fill in those details.

e-Forums | Association for Library Collections & Technical ...<http://www.ala.org/alcts/confevents/upcoming/e-forum>
e-Forums are two-day, moderated, electronic discussion forums that provide an opportunity for librarians to discuss matters of interest on an ALCTS email discussion list.




ErinWentz, MSLIS
Electronic Resources Librarian, Assistant Professor
Library and Learning Resources
MCPHS University
179 Longwood Avenue | BostonMA02115
T 617.732.2810F 617.278.1566
erin.wentz at mcphs.edu
MCPHS University
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From: Eril-l <eril-l-bounces at lists.eril-l.org> on behalf of Sherise S Kimura <kimura at usfca.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, November 29, 2017 3:16 PM
To: Melissa Belvadi
Cc: eril-l at lists.eril-l.org
Subject: Re: [Eril-l] virtual reference and confidentiality, privacy and "creepy" factor


We have an embedded libraryh3lp widget in our EDS platform as well. I just tested this, and I'm not seeing search terms in the session URLs in the live chat window or chat history, under "referrer."

We're using the latest version:  https://libraryh3lp.com/webclient/client

I believe search terms may be included in URLs from some library catalogs, but we have not added the libraryh3lp widget in our catalog.



Sherise Kimura
Electronic Resources Librarian
Gleeson Library/Geschke Center
University of San Francisco
kimura at usfca.edu<mailto:kimura at usfca.edu>
(415) 422-5379

On Tue, Nov 28, 2017 at 11:39 AM, Melissa Belvadi <mbelvadi at upei.ca<mailto:mbelvadi at upei.ca>> wrote:

We use libraryh3lp as our virtual reference service platform.
A feature of it is that it provides to the "operator" the URL that the user was on at the point that they started the chat session. As it happens, if you put that chat box within, for instance, the EBSCOhost or EDS platforms, that URL has encoded in it the user's last search strategy.

I had a patron use that chat box to ask a question about our hours. I happened to notice the URL and could tell that they were surely getting unsatisfactory results, so after answering their question, I noted that I could see their keywords and perhaps could offer some help in creating a better search. This particular patron was happy for the help, but when I told my colleagues about this interaction, there was quite a discussion about the "creepiness" aspect and that led to more discussion about our lack of an explicit privacy policy.  In this discussion, our head of instruction noted that when she shows classes the chat service, she often gets a question to the effect "can you tell who I am?" which of course has a difficult answer involving IP address traceability (but which she does NOT go into but just tells them basically "no").

So I am wondering if any of you could share your thoughts: if you have any kind of formal policies or web page/documents relating confidentiality in virtual reference service, explaining what their expectations of privacy should be, what you can and can't see about them when they use it, or anything else you can think of that relates to this.

Thanks for sharing!

Melissa Belvadi
Collections Librarian
University of Prince Edward Island
mbelvadi at upei.ca<mailto:mbelvadi at upei.ca> 902-566-0581<tel:(902)%20566-0581>
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