Bashir receives grant to study privacy measures in public libraries

Masooda Bashir
Masooda Bashir, Associate Professor
Yang Wang
Yang Wang, Associate Professor

Associate Professor Masooda Bashir has received a $150,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS LG-246404-OLS-20) for her project, "Securing our Public Libraries: A Forum on Privacy and Security." The project seeks to identify the existence and absence of privacy protecting technologies (software and/or hardware) in public library systems.

In today's digital world, public libraries play a critical role in offering free public internet access. The American Library Association (ALA), with its well-established reputation of protecting the privacy of library users, has updated its interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights to include digital privacy. However, Bashir notes that with such a wide variety of library sizes, funding, staff training, equipment, vendors, and software, it is not clear if any widespread technological measures are currently in place that adhere to the ALA guidelines.

According to Bashir, there is "an important gap in the conversations we are having about privacy and security technologies implemented in our public libraries." This gap exists due to the lack of shared vocabulary among public libraries and differing levels of technical skillsets and resources across library systems. The IMLS grant will support a national forum on privacy and security, in which experts and public library representatives will collaborate on an exploratory study of what technological mechanisms are in place to protect patron privacy in our nation's libraries.

"I am delighted to be granted this opportunity to initiate and lead this vital discussion that is timely and necessary given our current dependency on internet technologies," Bashir said.

Bashir's research interests lie at the interface of information technology, human psychology, and society; especially how privacy, security, and trust intersect from a psychological point of view with information systems. She holds degrees in mathematics, computer science, and psychology and a PhD in psychology from Purdue University.

Associate Professor Yang Wang will serve as key project staff. He conducts research focusing on usable privacy and security technologies, social computing, human-computer interaction, and explainable artificial intelligence. Wang earned his PhD in information and computer science from the University of California, Irvine.

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