How to Use the Catalog: Privacy

Are Accounts Private?

No one can see your checkout history, including us. The Library sees only current checkouts and holds, as well as items that incurred fines.

However: you may choose to make items you add to shelves public or private.

Privacy for My Shelves

BiblioCommons, the company that makes our catalog, has updated their catalog so all new accounts will have a My Shelves default setting of private. If you have an older account and want to switch from public to private, you can easily change the privacy settings. Also note that any item you comment on, rate, tag, or summarize is automatically added to your Completed shelf.

  • If the item is private, your contribution will be visible to you but hidden from others.
  • If the item is public, others can view your contributions.


To make items automatically private or public:

  1. Go to My APL: Privacy (under “My Settings”).
  2. Check the desired boxes and click Save Changes.

Some options are checked: Automatically mark newly added complete, in-progress and for-later items as private.


To check or change the privacy of individual items:

  1. Log in to My APL: My Shelves and go to the desired shelf.
  2. Check for a lock icon to the right of the title. A lock means it's private. No lock means it's public.

    Infinite Jest shows a lock by it. Fifty Shades of Grey does not have a lock. An arrow points to the button Manage Item.
  3. To change the status of a title, select Manage Item and check the box by Keep this item private so only you can see it, or uncheck it to make the item public.

    The box is checked by Keep this item private.    Fifty Shades of Grey now shows a lock icon, so it's Private.

Learn more about using My Shelves.

Privacy for My Lists

Choose your privacy level for each list when you publish them. You can also follow these steps if you've already published the list but want to change who can see it.

  1. Go to My Lists and select Edit to the right of the list name.
  2. Select the red button, Finished Editing... (even if you haven't made any changes).
  3. Choose who can see your list:

    Four options are shown with notes: 1: Everyone: Public to all. 2. People in a specific location: Choose USA, Texas or in my library - users in only that location will be able to see it. 3. Anyone with the link: People can't search for it, but anyone with the link can see it. 4 Only me:This keeps the list private to you.
  4. Select Publish.

Note: If you leave your list as a Draft, it will not be visible to others. When you edit a list, your changes are auto-saved. If you close your browser or go to another page, the list remains a draft. You can also choose Finished Editing, select Only me and Publish. Either way, your list will be private to you.

Privacy for My Profile

Your Profile is a public page. Everyone can see:

  • Personal details that you add. Learn about adding details to My Profile.
  • Public items on your Completed Shelf.
  • Public Lists that you make.
  • Recent Activity like comments that you make or items you add publicly to any shelf.

If you don't add content like comments and Lists, it's unlikely that others will find your profile. But if you want to ensure more privacy and anonymity...  

  • Do not add details under Add/Edit Profile Details.
  • Make sure My Shelves are set to private if you use them. (You will see private Shelf items on your Profile when you're logged in, but the public cannot see them.)
  • Do not include personal info or aliases in your username. You can change your username anytime.
  • Under My Recent Activity, choose Make private.

    Screenshot of My Recent Activity with the option "Make private" indicated. Below that is a lock icon next to the book The Sound of Things Falling, with a note: This item was made private when it was added to the shelf, so the public cannot see it. To ensure all items in My Recent Activity are private, select "Make private" at the top.


Note: You can also change your privacy for My Feeds by going to My APL: Privacy, checking the box for Mark your activity feed as private and selecting Save Changes.