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Overview of Privacy Issues for NYPL's New Catalog


This overview provides NYPL's users with a summary of the information that will be collected in connection with NYPL's new catalog, powered by BiblioCommons, as well as a summary of how BiblioCommons and NYPL will use that information. 

When you use pages in the NYPL catalog that say "Powered by BiblioCommons" in the lower left-hand corner of the screen, you are using what is referred to in this document as the "BiblioCommons Service," and any information that is collected or shared on those pages may be collected by NYPL and BiblioCommons. 

We encourage all patrons who use the BiblioCommons Service to read the BiblioCommons Privacy Policy as well as the NYPL Privacy Policy. Those are the full and legally binding policies. They are the only documents that govern the collection and use of user information by NYPL and BiblioCommons.  This document should not be relied upon as an agreement or policy – it is just a summary. 

What information may be stored when I use the BiblioCommons Service?

    • BiblioCommons stores two types of information: (i) Personal Information (e.g., your NYPL barcode, PIN, ID, and name; and optionally your month of birth, and email address) and (ii) Shared Content (content you may contribute to the BiblioCommons online community such as reviews, lists of favorite books, comments, and online conversations you have with other users through personal messages). 

Is my personal information shared with other users?

    • If you choose to create Shared Content, a display name of your choice will appear along side it. That display name is the only personal information that will be shared. The BiblioCommons Service will not make any other personal information visible to other users.

Is my borrowing history visible to other users?

    • No. Your borrowing history is visible only to you.

Who can see My Shelves and other Shared Content?

    • If you contribute information about books, movies, or music, or add items to Lists or My Shelves, this information will be shared by default. 

Can I make information on My Shelves private?

    • Every title has a place for private notes and tags. You can also mark individual titles as "private" if you choose.

Do I have to share content?

    • No. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of sharing content with others you can register and use the BiblioCommons Service without ever creating Shared Content. Just don't enter comments, send messages, create public lists, etc. You can still benefit from BiblioCommons greatly improved search and account management functionality.

What control do I have over my Shared Content?

    • Shared Content, such as Lists you create, may be deleted or edited by you at any time after you have posted it on the BiblioCommons Service. However, like all content posted on the web, your Shared Content may be copied or indexed by third parties. If you do not remove Shared Content from the BiblioCommons Service, then it may be displayed by NYPL and BiblioCommons indefinitely. 
    • If you choose to send messages to other users, you cannot delete them from the recipient's inboxes.
    • Account Settings allow you to change your username (which is displayed publicly only if you choose to create lists, comments, messages, etc.).

What if I don't want to allow my personal information to be shared with BiblioCommons and/or other users?

    • You can use BiblioCommons without creating any Shared Content, in which case nothing about you or your use, not even your Display Name, will be visible to others.
    • If you prefer not to share any information with BiblioCommons, or for any other reason don't want to use BiblioCommons service, you will still be able to search for and check out materials using NYPL's traditional catalog interface here.

What will NYPL and BiblioCommons do with information I provide?

    • The answer to this question depends on the type of information in question. Some of the information is simply used in order to provide library services. Other information may be used for statistical purposes. In some cases (such as, for example, Shared Content that you make publicly available) the information may be used by BiblioCommons, by NYPL, and even by other users of the BiblioCommons Service for a broad range of purposes. Please read the BiblioCommons Terms of Service (in particular look at the section entitled "Shared Content") for more information. In all instances, information that BiblioCommons and NYPL store is subject to disclosure pursuant to subpoena, court order, or as otherwise authorized by applicable law.

Where can I get more information?

    • We encourage all users of the BiblioCommons Service to read the BiblioCommons Privacy Policy as well as the NYPL Privacy Policy. Those policies are the only official documents that govern the collection and use of user information by NYPL and BiblioCommons.