No more Public Access Terminals at UT?

I’m using my lunch break to browse the University of Texas at Austin’s Libraries Administrative Council minutes and UT’s Library Committee minutes. I think it’s a great thing that these minutes are made available to the public. They’re usually open records, and there’s some interesting and useful information publicly available there (sometimes if you read between the lines).

I spotted something interesting in the May 31st minutes: “Campus IT group has started discussion about discontinuing public access to campus workstations. Libraries will develop a process to grant temporary EIDs to the public.”

This is interesting for several reasons. One, it looks like it is the result of pressure from either ITS and/or the Information Security Office. What are management implications for library information technology decisions made under these circumstances? Is it a common occurrence? Is it a cause for concern? (That’s before noting that the current method for granting temporary EIDs is time-consuming and difficult).

Two, and more importantly, what does it mean for the privacy of patrons? Is anonymity an important concept on the web in the library? Because the EID authentication system is handled through UT centrally, I’m pretty certain that these records aren’t controlled by the library. Should the browsing of patrons be considered in the same way we consider library circulation records? I can’t imagine that these ideas weren’t discussed- well, I could imagine it, but I’m sure the administration must have given some thought to the subject. What have other people done, and is it something to worry about?

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