Linkedin to libraries: drop dead

Originally published at:


Some additional info from a draft response:

Once the new platform is launched with an estimated completion date of the end of 2019, LinkedIn Learning will require patrons to create LinkedIn accounts in order to access this resource collection. This subjects all patrons and their activities to the user, privacy, and cookie policies of LinkedIn, forcing them to agree to a number of stipulations that either outright violate or create significant ambiguity around privacy norms between a library and its users. As things stand in July 2019, this grants the company the following:

  1. Indefinite retention of data both added to an account and tracked by the LinkedIn platform

  2. The permission to give data to “others” as LinkedIn deems reasonably necessary; they do not explain the parameters of this in any terms of use document and have not provided a clear explanation in follow-up conversations with account representatives

  3. Ownership of data as per the LinkedIn user policy: by using LinkedIn, users are granting them “a worldwide, transferable and sublicensable right to use, copy, modify, distribute, publish, and process, information and content that you provide through our Services and the services of others, without any further consent, notice and/or compensation to you or others”


Proposed Changes

We propose libraries wait for the following changes to be made to LinkedIn Learning’s user agreement, privacy, and cookie policies to bring it more in line with the service expectations of libraries, as well as our own privacy policies and government regulations, before resuming business with them:

  1. LinkedIn Learning should provide library users an option to use the service as a guest without the need to create a LinkedIn profile.
  2. LinkedIn Learning users should not fall under the same privacy policy as other LinkedIn users.
  3. LinkedIn Learning should adopt a policy to scrub personally identifiable information (PII) on a regular basis. Additionally, library users’ data should be scrubbed within a reasonable amount of time after closing their account.
  4. PII should be used only to keep operations running and only in circumstances necessary to providing the service.
  5. Personal data of library patrons should not be used for advertising. Cookies that track user data when they are logged out of the service should not be allowed. Cookies should not track patron behavior outside of the LinkedIn Learning site or app.
  6. Privacy should come standard with new accounts, and other services can be offered on an opt-in basis.
  7. Library users have the right to know who they are giving their personal data to. An agreement cannot be made with “some others.”
  8. Library users’ PII should not be made public by default. Public profiles should be an opt-in service for those who choose it.

Does it provide any kind of certificate or it is learning for its own sake?
If there’s no certificate, just create an account with a fake name and mail address.

If those companies want to boost their users numbers, let them be polluted by fake accounts.


There are certificates. However, most users will just follow the instructions placed in front of them on the screen, especially the most non-tech literate in our communities. Forcing a library user to create a LinkedIn profile in order to use a library service is an egregious violation of everything we stand for. LinkedIn has also implemented an AI mechanism to determine if an account is fake. While it’s not perfect, I’m sure it’ll continue to get better.


Any idea how much a single library pays?
Any idea how much all the libraries pay in total?
Are there any other providers of similar content that could replace this content?

Obviously, inertia with an existing provider is easier to continue with. But, maybe it’s just time to find a new provider. Depending on the size of the market, maybe it’ll be a bad decision for LinkedIn. Or, maybe getting rid of libraries is part of their goal.

Edit - Typo.


This is a damn shame; back in the day I used some computer books written by people and they were terrific. I’m not familiar with their website, but it sounds like LinkedIn is messing up a good thing.


They don’t want to get rid of libraries - they want to suck up as many library patrons as they can into the horrible LinkedIn ecosystem. They don’t particularly care to keep libraries, though, given their attitude about this issue.

Libraries pay a lot for Lynda dot com - I don’t have specifics at hand but many/most(?) can’t afford it. And there isn’t anything quite like it out there, although with MOOCs and Khan Academy etc. there are lots of free learning opportunities, and Gale offers Gale Courses which is a paid product that’s much more limited.

Remember that libraries often serve folks who aren’t the most sophisticated about searches and privacy and security and scams and such. They trust us to help them with that. Having a dedicated service provider endorsed by the library is meaningful - going out to find their own learning opportunities would be much less accessible and probably too overwhelming for many.


Creating a fake account is not that simple for folks who can’t always keep track of their own genuine email and social media accounts and passwords. People using the library to help look for employment or to get a promotion from training are often in unstable housing environments with a lack of security for their stuff. Remembering fake info would be complicated and likely confusing.


Could you say where/who that’s from?
(or did I miss it?)

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Yeah, so this is from a draft letter that’s going to be released in the next week or so, from various folks in the library world, and although I have permission to share bits, I don’t want to speak for anyone specifically at this point or claim that it’s the final product (although it’s pretty close as I understand it).


It highly depends on the library and how they setup the pricing. Some have unlimited access and thousands of users. Believe NYPL is around 17k users. Other libraries purchase a select number of seats. So a library may be paying a few thousand dollars or much more. There are other providers on the market, but Lynda has provided the best and most content.

It feels in some ways like LinkedIn is just trying to remove libraries. I’m the Chair of ALA’s Privacy Subcommittee and have been running a national task force on this. Met with LinkedIn at their HQ and had many conversations with them. They’ve never really addressed our concerns and it’s felt like uncanny valley when speaking with them. Just telling me, “everyone wants a LinkedIn profile.”


There will also be a collective action statement that will come out later today.


I see, thank you. And thanks for the quick reply.
After I asked you the question, it dawned on me that your reply would likely be pretty much what you did reply :slight_smile:

Thanks again.


@orenwolf the link to the comments from the blog entry is being blocked by my content blocking stuff on my phone. I can just bypass this by going to the forums and going to the topic there. I don’t really care but if you are having issues - have another data point.

Oddly the reason I have a LinkedIn account is a mistake. I was working with someone on some stuff and they sent me the LinkedIn invite rather than the login I was expecting. I assumed she had it set up in some way linked to LinkedIn. It was just user error on her part. I guess I can learn at the library soon.

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Companies that acquire properties without understanding them or who their market is…


Where I was going with the question was, how valuable is the library market to LinkedIn? If it’s $10K per library, and there are 10K libraries subscribed, that’s $100,000,000 market to throw away. But, if it’s $5K on average and there are only 1K libraries, then it’s only a $5,000,000 market. It’s possible it’s more trouble than it’s worth for them to keep supporting libraries. At least to some manager making this decision.

The profile changes are part of the “content” they provide. With this change, they may not have the best anymore.

Definitely agree. I wasn’t suggesting that patrons think about new sources. But, that libraries themselves think about new sources and simply drop LinkedIn completely.

Transition is never easy. Trying to get them to change their stance and requirement for a profile is fine. But, looking for a replacement service and switching is probably a smart move too. Even if they relent and change the policy now, looking for a new provider is probably still a smart move, as it’s likely to happen again.


They have explicitly told us that libraries are not a big enough market share to warrant a custom solution. However, once I told them that this was pretty insulting they flipped their stance, telling me that libraries a social good project for them.

I agree with you that they may just not be a viable library solution anymore. We of course would hope that they could find a way to work with us. Microsoft is not a small company and if we really are a social good project then this would be the time to stand up and show their commitment to our values.


I thought it was just me.

Using Chrome or Safari on iPhone - Comments link displays.
Using Chrome or Safari on iPad - No Comments link.

No idea what setting could be different between the two, they all look the same to me. I use the same workaround going direct, but it’s annoying extra steps.

If the library patrons aren’t forced to create a LinkedIn account, how are they going to spam all of your friends and family? How are they going to give all of your data, including unencrypted passwords, to hackers? Libraries are killing their business model.


Couldn’t the librarians just create a bunch of fake profiles, then sign in all the computers in the library with these profiles, so that patrons just have to sit down at the computer and use the service?