One of the cornerstones of librarianship is respect for the privacy of library users. Duke University Libraries recognize the importance of protecting your privacy and the confidentiality of the information you share with us when you use our websites or other library services. On this page you will find our policy on collecting, disclosing, maintaining, protecting and using your personal information.
The Duke University Libraries ("the Libraries") are committed to fairly and appropriately managing and safeguarding the information collected, used and maintained in support of its missions and to transparency regarding our data management practices. Duke respects the integrity of all its stakeholders, including as represented by personally identifying information about each stakeholder, and takes seriously its responsibility to protect individuals' privacy in balance with meeting its legal, policy and administrative obligations.
We encourage you to review the sections below, as well as the Duke University Privacy Statement , for more information about how we collect, use, and maintain information at DUL. In addition, if you are in a jurisdiction with additional notice requirements, including the European Economic Area, please review the Duke University Privacy Statement for more information about our privacy practices.
DUL additionally endorses the Stanford Libraries Statement on Patron Privacy and Database Access.
What kinds of information do the Libraries collect?
The Libraries maintain personally identifiable information in library users' online accounts. We maintain the confidentiality of information in your library account, including usage records of physical and electronic materials, database searches, InterLibrary Requests, and data associated with payments to DUL Facilities. We use this information to maintain your library account and to provide services to you. We do not make this information available to any other entity outside the Libraries, except as required by law or appropriate law enforcement procedures.
The Libraries collect and store personal information that you submit via the Libraries' web-based management tools, such as forms related to asking reference questions or booking reservable study rooms. We also interact with our library users regularly and receive personal information via email messages, chat sessions, web forms, and other communications. If you submit personal information via one of these platforms, we use your personal information for the purpose for which you submitted it, and occasionally to invite you to provide optional feedback on your experience with library services.
Duke's card swipe management system stores data each time a Duke affiliate swipes into a space that requires swipe card access. For the Libraries, this includes specialized spaces (e.g., the Doctoral Research Space) with restricted access or general building access at certain times of day.
The Libraries may analyze any of these data in the aggregate to perform technical troubleshooting or better understand trends in usage and improve our collections and services.
Examples of how the Libraries use data to improve services
The Libraries analyze user data in the aggregate to perform technical troubleshooting and better understand trends in usage in order to improve our collections and services. Click the examples below to better understand how Libraries' staff use data to improve services.
- Analysis of Top Textbook circulation data
- InterLibrary Request data
- Doctoral Research Space (DRS) swipe entrance data
- Google Analytics
- Off-campus use of electronic resources
Can I disable cookies and other tracking technologies?
Yes. You can disable cookies and other web technologies in your browser preference settings. However, please keep in mind that doing so may mean some features of this website will not function properly.
What are the privacy practices of the third-party tools the Libraries use?
The Libraries' website contains links to websites and licensed databases that the Libraries do not maintain or support. The Libraries use third-party tools for some of library services (such as online chatting with a librarian and searching for materials via specialized widgets). Please note that the Libraries are not responsible for the privacy practices or the content of these third parties. We encourage you to read the policies associated with these third-party tools before using the tools.
Can I see the information maintained in my library account?
Yes, you are entitled to view your library account information.
Examples of how the Libraries use data to improve services
Analysis of Top Textbooks circulation data
Staff analyze aggregate data about the circulation of textbooks kept on reserve at the Libraries. Understanding the extent to which textbooks for different classes are used helps us improve outreach and awareness around the textbook lending program, and make decisions about how many copies of different textbooks to keep on reserve at different library locations.
The Libraries analyzes aggregate, anonymous data about what materials patrons request to borrow through Duke from other universities. This helps librarians decide which new materials to purchase for the Libraries’ collections.
Doctoral Research Space swipe entrance data
Libraries staff analyze swipe card data to determine whether the Doctoral Research Space is used at capacity and how many new students can be granted access to the space each semester. We can also use it to understand the frequency with which people make use of the space.
The Libraries use Google Analytics to help track overall trends in the terms patrons use for searching library resources. For the 100 most common searches, staff curate a list of “Best Bets,” which then get presented prominently in results when those search terms are used. Staff then use Analytics to determine how often each of those recommended links gets clicked when presented so the list can be refined over time.
Off-campus usage of electronic resources
The Libraries' EZparser tool uses EZproxy logs to aggregate data about use of the Libraries’ electronic resources. Staff use the tool to better understand which resources are used, as well as how affiliates of different schools and departments are using various resources. One way this analysis can help us is in setting prices for resources with database vendors.