With the excitement around the launch of Kindle compatibility, we have received numerous questions about patron privacy.  Following is a brief statement that we’d like to share reaffirming our commitment to privacy.

OverDrive respects the privacy of all patrons, users and students (“visitors”) who visit and/or interact with the hosted websites of our library and school partners.

When a visitor borrows an eBook or other digital item from a library or school catalog, OverDrive does not collect or maintain any personal information.  In order to check out or place a hold on a title in the library’s or school’s digital catalog, we validate the status of a visitor’s library card (active or inactive), but do not obtain any information regarding their identity from this process.   Library and school website visitors have an option to supply an email address to notify them if a title on hold becomes available.  This email address is not shared, is protected from unauthorized disclosure and is used only to notify the patron about the title availability.

OverDrive works to enable the compatibility of our library and school partners’ catalogs with a variety of reading devices, platforms and apps, including third-party software applications (e.g., Adobe) and fulfillment services (e.g., Amazon).  For visitors who wish to use these applications or services, these third-parties may require visitors to register using an email address to access their software or services.  The visitor’s name, address and other identifying information are not required, only a valid email address. Registration can be accomplished anonymously (e.g. using a valid email address that does not require other identifiable information). Patrons who wish to read on Kindle, for example, may find it convenient to use their existing Amazon account information, but it is not required.

OverDrive has always respected visitors’ online privacy and will continue to update you with additional information as appropriate.  We are always interested in your feedback.  If you have any comments or questions about our policies, please contact support@overdrive.com.

Lindsey Levinsohn is lead library advocate for OverDrive.

8 Responses to “A Note on Library Patron and Student Privacy”

  1. Ben Steinberg

    Although it’s possible to create an email address and Amazon account solely for the purpose of using Overdrive ebooks on the Kindle or a Kindle app, it doesn’t constitute anonymity: if you already own a Kindle, Amazon knows who you are. Deregistering your Kindle doesn’t really conceal your identity, and you’d lose your existing content, in any case. You could buy a Kindle just for this purpose, keeping it separate from your other Amazon purchasing, but Amazon still has to send it to you, and so knows who you are. You could ask someone else to get you a Kindle, and then only use it for Overdrive titles, but that’s not that useful and well beyond what most people would do.

  2. Sallie Swank

    Thank, Lindsay. Our concern here at Ft Worth Library continues to be that patrons using our library to borrow books on Amazon.com may be under the mistaken impression that the library’s privacy policy still covers them once they leave our site for Amazon.com. We are currently working on a notice to clarify that for them. My queries to Amazon get replies that seem automated and more geared towards the retail transaction. Is there a specific person at Amazon that is working w/ Overdrive on this?

  3. Jessica Goodman

    Thank you for responding to the concerns of the library community regarding the privacy issues raised by library eBooks for Kindle.

    This post states:
    Patrons who wish to read on Kindle, for example, may find it convenient to use their existing Amazon account information, but it is not required.

    Please provide more clarification on this statement. If an Amazon account is required to Get for Kindle, and the customer’s Kindle device or Kindle app must be registered/linked to the customer’s Amazon account, would you please explain how the existing account information is not required?

    We would like to be able to explain this to our customers.

  4. John

    The reassurance is nice but what about Amazon? I’m sure they do not follow similar practices.

  5. David

    I think it is terrible that users have to go to the Amazon web site to check out a book. I can only imagine what the negotiations between Overdrive and Amazon were like. Here is how I envision it:

    Amazon: Do exactly what we want or we will destroy you!
    Overdrive: Ummm . . . OK. Deal!

    You have turned librarians into volunteers for Amazon. Thanks a lot! We should at least get some money if a patron ends up buying a book they originally borrowed but why do I have a feeling that will never happen.

    • Brianne Carlon

      Hi David, thank you for voicing your concerns. When borrowing a book for Kindle, users actually do browse and check out titles at their ‘Virtual Branch’ website and only go to the Amazon website to ‘Get for Kindle’ and sync with their device.

      Also, libraries that opt-in to offer access to our newly announced WIN Catalog will earn affiliate fees for all sales referred through a link from their public library website.
      We will continue to improve our service to better serve our partners. -Brianne

  6. Wendy R

    Can you tell me if Amazon collects and uses library patron’s usage around their borrowed books, like bookmarks, highlights, titles borrowed, in order to market back to the patron or to aggregrate library patron usage data in other ways with advertisers or their own advertising, etc? I have a Kindle, have purchased books on it and am now borrowing library books on it. The way I interpret my library’s policy (the wonderful San Francisco Public Library!!!), when I go to Amazon to download books, I’m subject to the Amazon policy? Thank you for your clarifications.

    • Brianne Carlon

      Hi Wendy, thanks for writing. You can contact Amazon directly to discuss its policy. -Brianne