May 26, 2022

Chicago: “Should Book Choices Be Private? Harold Washington Library Patron Calls For Change”

From CBS Chicago:

A Chicago woman is accusing the Harold Washington Library of failing to protect the privacy of its patrons—and the library is responding tonight.

The iconic owls looming over Chicago’s main library represent knowledge and wisdom, but questions have been raised about whether library staff made a lapse in judgment and violated the American Library Association’s best practices by leaving the names of its patrons out in plain sight.

Library patron Pamela McKinney says something was amiss when she went to pick up a book she had put on reserve. She saw shelves filled with books with receipts sticking out of the pages—with the full names of the patrons who reserved the materials.


McKinney, who has a master’s degree in library and information sciences, says the library broke the law by allowing the public to see which books patrons had reserved.


The Chicago Public Library issued a response Thursday night:

“We have identified a solution,” reads an email from the organization. “We expect to run a pilot in January in the Harold Washington Library Center.”

In a statement, Chicago Public Library spokesman Patrick Molloy said: “We very much value patron privacy. We’ve been working with a concerned patron and believe we’ve identified a user-friendly solution to create holds slips that protect the privacy of our patrons and that works with our existing systems.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.