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Privacy scrubs and other privacy features in Springshare tools

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At Springshare we care about and protect you and your patrons' data. In addition to the measures we have in place as standard practice—which includes robust security policies and operations that achieve SOC2 Type II compliance—we offer a number of tools in our products to help you to further guard patron privacy and comply with local laws. This Springboard Tutorial is intended for current and prospective Springshare customers to learn more about these features. 

For general information about data use, security, and privacy, please see:

  • Springshare's Privacy Policy — this has details about how we collect and use information, security and compliance, etc.
  • GDPR Compliance — while aimed at institutions in Europe, this page outlines what we have in place for all customers, not just those in Europe.

Privacy scrubs

For some of our products, you may need to collect patron data in order to meet your users' needs, for example:

  • In LibAnswers, you need patron emails or SMS numbers in order to respond to their questions.
  • In LibCal, you collect patron names and emails when they register for events and book spaces, equipment, and appointments, in order to send confirmation and reminder emails. You may also need to verify their identity when they arrive for their booking.
  • In LibWizard, you might need to attach student names and emails to quizzes and tutorials, or you need to collect contact details to follow up with purchase requests.

While personal identifiable information is often required to fulfill a patron request, it may be unnecessary after the interaction has fully concluded. We store patron data indefinitely in our products, as long as you maintain your subscriptions to them. However, if you'd like, you can choose to scrub different types of information after a designated period of time. This allows you to conform to recommendations or requirements regarding the storage of patron data while retaining stats and other useful details.

LibAnswers, LibCal, and LibWizard each have different privacy scrub options that are activated separately, by having an Admin-level user in each specific product fill out our Privacy Scrub Request Form detailing what you want scrubbed and on what interval. A separate form must be completed for each product. The same form additionally has options to cancel or modify an existing scrub in a product, if needed in the future.

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Accounts and permissions

Creating and managing accounts is a basic function in each Springy product. As a result, you might not naturally think of this as a "privacy feature," but careful consideration here can help you safeguard privacy and demonstrate due diligence with limiting staff access to data. You have a great deal of flexibility when choosing the account levels and permissions that you grant or deny staff in each product. This allows you to tailor staff accounts so they can access only the data they need to successfully do their jobs.

For example, if you have a multi-branch organization, frontline staff can be given access to LibCal bookings only at their home branch, allowing them to view and manage those bookings to help their local patrons without giving them access to patron booking data for every location in the system. Likewise, in LibAnswers, a user might have access to a certain queue in order to view and respond to those tickets but no access at all to other queues, preventing them from idly exploring—or wrongfully exploiting—information that doesn't apply to their direct responsibilities.

Just as important as creating new accounts and adjusting permissions as new needs arise is eventually removing or inactivating the accounts when staff members leave your organization or their roles change. Each product offers different options to inactivate or delete user accounts to preserve stats and reassign content ownership while preventing no longer authorized account holders from signing in.

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Privacy and data submission notifications

When active, the privacy notification on the public pages of your Springy tools informs visitors about the use of cookies and other privacy-related issues. The alert can be dismissed by users, which will set a cookie to prevent them from seeing the banner again for a period of time on any public page in that product. For your convenience we provide default language for the alert, but the text is also fully customizable. You can also include additional info in a popup when users click on a "Read More" link. 

Also available in LibAnswers, LibCal, and LibWizard, the data submission notice alerts your patrons to what personal information you collect. This allows you to let your patrons know why you collect particular data on question and booking forms, what that data is used for, etc. You can create customized messages to appear on public pages as well as your widgets, including chat widgets.

Both notification types are optional, customizable, and distinct between the products, allowing you to activate them as desired and with separate, tailored information as needed.

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LibAnswers privacy features

As our core patron communication platform, LibAnswers has a number of features for both patron and staff privacy. In addition to the option to fully scrub personal identifiable information from chat transcripts, you can also anonymize patron names in chat transcripts, as an alternative to a full scrub or as an interim step (i.e., you can anonymize the names before the scrub is set to run). You can also skip the login form or allow anonymous login, to let patrons chat anonymously from the very start. When either of these options in the chat widget setup is selected, patrons will not be required to enter their name to initiate a chat.

You can additionally scrub internal chat message history, which, after your chosen number of days, will delete all internal chats between operators, within a chat department, and site-wide, i.e., the All Staff chat. While this does not affect patron chats, your staff chats may contain patron information if, for example, chat operators share patron details in the course of collaborating to answer a question.

The Query Analyzer tool collects the search terms that patrons use to find FAQs and tracks what they click on next, which can help you identify gaps in your knowledgebase and better understand patron needs. This data is anonymous—no personal identifying information is attached to search queries. The search query data is kept for 6 months, after which it is automatically deleted. If desired, you can completely turn off Query Analyzer to not collect this data at all.

What about staff privacy? LibAnswer account holders can choose to use a nickname when chatting with patrons, responding to tickets, and on FAQs that they own, rather than showing their full name that is attached to their LibApps account. For example, you might use your first name only as your nickname (to conceal your last name), use an alias name, or use something generic, like Reference Librarian. The name in the LibApps account will still be used internally.

Lastly, as mentioned in other sections, you can also scrub patron tickets and chat transcripts, as well as activate privacy and data submission notifications.

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LibCal privacy features

Similar to the LibAnswers nickname feature, LibCal allows appointment users to activate a public nickname to show an alias on public pages. If appointment users sync their LibCal appointments with their Outlook calendar, they can also choose to make these appointments private in Outlook. With this, someone viewing their Outlook calendar won't see any patron names or details from the appointment bookings coming from LibCal.

The same goes for syncing space bookings with an Outlook calendar—you can choose whether to show or hide patron names and emails within the events that are created in Outlook. 

Lastly, as mentioned in other sections, you can also scrub patron information from booking requests, as well as activate privacy and data submission notifications.

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