Library and Information Association CILIP has warned librarians not to participate in the government's contact tracing programme unless a series of criteria are met first.
CILIP was responding to calls from the government for public libraries to assist in collecting personal information about their users to help track people who get coronavirus and their contacts.
However, the organisation said it was concerned about the lack of appropriate planning and preparation for the implementation of the measures and says key criteria need to be met before libraries take part.
The criteria includes that there should be no deterrent to library use, impact on people from marginalised or vulnerable groups and detriment to users' rights to privacy.
There are also concerns about cross-contamination with other library systems or user information, capacity and lack of legal clarity over the status of volunteers.
Dawn Finch, chair of CILIP’s ethics committee, said: “Our key concern is the safety and welfare of library users and library workers. We recognise the importance of contact tracing as part of an effective pandemic response and we hope that this advisory note will be a constructive contribution to ensure that it is implemented properly, safely and in a way that doesn’t put library users, including children and young people, at unnecessary risk.
“As things stand, we have to advise librarians against collecting personal information as part of contact tracing unless they are satisfied that our safety and privacy criteria have been met.”
An advisory note and briefing paper has been published on the CILIP website.
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