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Building a Data Warehouse and Protecting Privacy

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Building a Data Warehouse and Protecting Privacy

Salt Lake County Library, Utah

Advocacy & Awareness | 2020 | Honorable Mention

Innovation Synopsis

As big data trends in business, libraries have resisted, opting to shun collection of data. The County Library has taken a unique approach: putting anonymized data into a data warehouse. This historical data has provided insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves while protecting patron privacy.


Libraries have a conundrum, vowing to protect patron privacy while desiring data to make solid business decisions. The library willingly removes personally identifiable data, and then decides how to use the data that remains. Additionally, data is being used from many library vendors who all report data differently. It is challenging to gather data from these different sources, find the common links and then gather and analyze it to support our decision making.

Key Elements of Innovation

Our data warehouse allows us to analyze impact on services rather than relying on gut feelings. As the data is captured across platforms and loaded into the warehouse, it is transformed and standardized to ensure data quality. The warehouse streamlines data analysis and reporting, and allows anonymized historical data to be kept that otherwise could be discarded. Access to historical data is useful when new uses for data are conceived. The warehouse can be adapted for new data sources as needed.

Achieved Outcomes

The data warehouse has changed the way we do business, allowing the library to keep historical data longer, and to correlate data to provide insight into the library’s performance while respecting patron privacy. As a result, barriers to library services created by outdated policies have been removed, librarians have more tools to analyze collections including total (physical and digital) collection usage and the library uses shelver and circulation workload statistics to address staffing at our branches.