Privacy Issues in Libraries with Online Services: Attitudes and Concerns of Academic Librarians and University Students in Ghana

Bright Kwaku Avuglah, Christopher M. Owusu-Ansah, Gloria Tachie-Donkor, Eugene Baah Yeboah

Abstract

This study surveyed librarians’ and students’ attitudes, perceptions, and concerns on privacy in Ghanaian universities with the aim of seeking a better alignment of their perspectives in the online library context. The study adapted and applied the instrument developed by Zimmer that assessed attitudes and practices of librarians in the United States on privacy rights and protecting patrons’ privacy in the library. The study found that, between librarians and students in Ghanaian universities, there was a need for greater control over their personal data and a need for ethical responsibility on the part of data collecting online library agents; both groups expressed dislike for state censorship and corporate monopoly over their personal data. However, despite their positive attitude about the strong role of librarians in guaranteeing their personal data, a significant number of them demonstrate little faith in librarians to actualize the protection of their personal data. Finally, privacy attitudes and concerns of academic librarians were noted to align with those of university students in Ghana. Among others, it was recommended that Ghanaian academic librarians integrate privacy education and awareness creation in their universities, emphasizing the need to make informed online decisions and exposing potential repercussions of their decisions while using online library and digital resources.

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