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Denver Public Library Cancels Lynda Courses Over Privacy Concerns

Denver Public Library is ending its deal with Lynda.
Denver Public Library is ending its deal with Lynda.
Rob! at Flickr

At the end of March, the Denver Public Library will discontinue its subscription to LyndaLibrary, an online professional development content service, over privacy concerns for library patrons.

Stacey Watson, DPL collection services manager, says LinkedIn, the employment-focused social-media website, was essentially ending LyndaLibrary and instituting what would be LinkedIn Learning. The library had concerns about the terms of service that LinkedIn was requiring.

“And so in order for our customers to be able to access that content, they were going to be forced to create a LinkedIn account, which pretty much goes against the Library's philosophy around privacy and access,” Watson says. “Typically, you only need to use your library card to access the content that we offer.”

Watson says that the library conducts account validation on its own end and didn’t feel that LinkedIn needed to collect data on library users. Last year, the American Library Association issued a statement urging LinkedIn Learning to reconsider the change of terms of service because of privacy concerns.

LyndaLibrary, owned by LinkedIn, offers online business and professional development courses in various subjects like marketing and sales, web design and development, mobile-app development and design and photography, according to its website.

Watson says the website also offered courses on coding, JavaScript, management courses and marketing-related classes, among other business-oriented coursework.

The social-media company announced on its website in 2015 that it was purchasing lynda.com, which contains numerous services, including LyndaLibrary, for $1.5 billion. Lynda was founded in 1995 by Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin.

“While we’ve worked with many of our public library customers on the transition from Lynda to LinkedIn Learning, we recognize that there are ongoing concerns about some of the changes we are making," LinkedIn spokeswoman Marisa Ayyar said in an email. "The pause is giving us time to continue our discussions with the library community and understand if we can build an online learning solution that meets the needs of public libraries and library patrons. While we cannot commit to any changes in our approach at this time, the pause is giving us time to have the right, thoughtful discussions.”

Watson says LyndaLibrary was a popular service. Efforts were under way on Monday to find a replacement service that will hopefully be available without too much of a gap in service. She would not elaborate on what services might be offered until a replacement is in place.

“It’s a pretty popular database,” she says. “It’s something that customers will miss, but we are looking into other alternatives.”

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Denver libraries are currently closed because of the coronavirus outbreak, but Watson says the system is still offering online services to patrons, including Learning Express, which includes help on testing for a variety of subjects, including standardized tests and professional testing like nursing exams.

The library also has language courses online, and patrons who don’t have a library card can get one online.

“And then we also offer a lot of technology classes,” she says. “Right now, obviously, that's kind of put aside while we're all dealing with coronavirus, but there is a lot we're trying to get together, a lot of data on other ways people can learn tech from home during the closures.”

For more information on services the library offers, go to denverlibrary.org.

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