At the Knox County Public Library the staff is thoroughly enmeshed with technology. We rely on software and electronic data to enable many of our services to the public, including traditional services that pre-exist the internet. We know that we can never be complacent with our existing security measures and we're always looking to move forward with more up-to-date options.

Many patrons have already begun to interact with the library online wherever they had internet through our online public access catalog at (By the way, we have dedicated computers for accessing the catalog on each floor, besides computers for accessing the internet. Please ask staff if you need assistance with this.) In recent months those people probably noticed a change if they tried a task requiring logging in to their accounts, for example to renew a book or suggest a purchase. Instead of only asking for your name and library barcode number, the log-in page has a third blank for you to fill. This blank is for you to enter your chosen PIN, although it isn’t like the PIN you might use for your debit card, etc. At this time, the PIN field will accept letters or numbers and more than four characters, so you have more freedom and security in choosing it.

As mentioned before, please don’t reuse some other PIN or password, although that is up to you.

I understand that suddenly seeing a different appearance and functionality to something you have been using for months or years can be slightly off putting. But allow me to explain how you may be able quickly and independently to move directly into using your library account online.

If you have never set up a PIN for the Knox County Public Library online catalog, but you have an active account at the library, for your first PIN you can just go ahead and enter whatever works for you in that space. When you submit the data if no previous PIN is associated with the account, then the next page asks you to reenter the PIN on a second blank. Like when you change or set up new passwords in other places, this is intended to make sure that you entered what you meant and what you can remember.

For many people, that will be all you need to do to access your library account on the online public access catalog. The next time you log-in, you will see those same three blanks, but after you fill them accurately and submit the data, then you will be allowed directly into services such as suggesting books and other materials for the library to purchase, and these suggestions will be linked precisely to your account so that library staff can more efficiently help you connect with what you are interested.

Part of the reason for this change is to improve your privacy and control of your data. The timing of the change, however, was decided by our library implementing the MyLibrary app. This app allows a more streamlined functionality when using a smartphone for access, but it requires three blanks to be filled rather than only two. The app can use your phone’s camera to scan a barcode as one way to search the catalog.

The Mylibrary app was created by Innovative Interfaces Incorporated, the same company that our library uses for its Integrated Library System or Library Services Platform. This means that it works directly with the software that we are using at our library to manage our library’s resources. Although it is a free app to download, you should know that it’s part of the services the library purchases from Innovative by subscription, which our library uses to provide materials and services to the public.

Innovative Interfaces Inc. is the library’s integrated library system for library management. Here is an excerpt from Innovative’s privacy policy: “Passive Collection and Tracking Technologies. As is true of most websites, we gather some Personal Information automatically through the Site in our server logs (described below). This may include information such as your Internet Protocol (IP) address and domain name. It may also include your Internet Service Providers (ISP) and the date and time of your visit. Also included is how you used of the Site (including the pages you view and the files you download). Additional information gathered includes referring/exit pages, your computer’s operating system and browser type, your software and hardware attributes (including device IDs), your general geographic location (e.g., your city, state, or metropolitan region), and/or clickstream data to analyze trends in the aggregate and administer the Site.”

I recently read, yes read, the data policy as well as the terms of service for Facebook (the most downloaded app) and they collect all the same information and more, depending on what else you use your Facebook login to access or to pay.

One further resource I have read recently is “Eight Ways to Reduce Your Digital Carbon Footprint” on Mozilla’s blog. If you are not worried about your privacy or security online, you may still want to make changes due to the environmental impact of all that connectivity. See number three: “Turn on strict tracking protection.”

In today’s internet environment, all users should be careful and informed. The library wants to help you be both, while still being connected online if that is helpful for you.

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