NSDL Materials Digital Library Wiki:Privacy policy

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As part of and in compliance with the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) program, the Materials Digital Library Pathway (MatDL) collects different types of data from web site visitors who come to this site. This privacy policy outlines the different forms of data being collected by MatDL and the NSDL, and the ways in which the data is being stored and safeguarded. These data may include information, such as your IP address, the date and time of your visit, the type of operating system and web browser that you use. These data are used to analyze web site visits and to support tools to enhance user experience. Different data are collected and stored in different ways which have different implications for your privacy. NSDL supports a standardized set of privacy policies and practices, which balance the privacy needs of its users with the library’s ability to provide users high quality and customizable access to its resources.

You can visit our website without telling us who you are or revealing any personal information (which we will refer to in this privacy policy as "Personal Data") about yourself. To obtain access to certain areas of our website, however, or to receive certain services we provide, you may be required to register with us and, in connection with such registration, to provide certain Personal Data (e.g., your email address). We use such information to provide the service you requested, to monitor internally usage of our website.

If you have any questions about this project’s privacy practices, please email contact@matdl.org. Please include your name, address and email address when you contact us.

Scope of this policy

This policy applies only to the web site for the NSDL Materials Digital Library Pathway (matdl.org). Please note that if you leave this web site for another web site, including the web site of another NSDL project, this privacy policy will no longer apply.

Web Metrics

This web site uses third party web metrics to record the details of your visit. This involves collecting data such as the pages you have viewed, the browser you have used, and so on. Web metrics data can range from the anonymous (e.g. time/date of visit) to the identifiable (e.g. IP address). These data provide useful statistics for project managers and project funders, as well as support the improvement of web site design and functionality. These data are always anonymous, and almost always aggregated.

In the case of third-party web metrics, NSDL has contracted a third party, Omniture Corporation (http://www.omniture.com/), to implement standardized webmetrics for a selected number of NSDL partner projects, including this project. NSDL uses third-party web metrics in order to provide standardized baseline web metrics across a number of NSDL projects. These webmetrics are implemented with a combination of session (non-persistent) cookies, and a short piece of javascript that is embedded in each of the this web site’s pages, and which is triggered every time that you load a page. This technology allows Omniture to track user interactions with nsdl.org site useage without having direct access to nsdl.org servers. All data collected by Omniture belong to NSDL Core Integration, and not to Omniture. Access to Omniture webmetrics data is therefore only available to NSDL Core Integration, and is password protected. These data will only be made public (for instance in reports) in anonymous and aggregated form.


Some NSDL-funded websites offer users resources that can be customized or that invite participation beyond browsing free-access pages. Those sites invite users to register – for free – for individual user accounts. Registering for such accounts requires voluntary online submission of pertinent user information, or attributes. When a user registers for an account with NSDL or NSDL funded resources, the following information may be collected: 1. Name (First and Last OR Username) 2. Email Address 3. Position/Job Title/Subject Expertise 4. Personal password

NSDL will use this information for the following purposes: 1. Allowing access to appropriate content 2. Personalizing content based on area of interest/need 3. Web Metrics 4. Issuing updates, invitations, newsletters, etc. 5. Confirming personal acccounts In the event that collected information will be used for purposes other that those described above, users will be notified of such changes and will be given the option to opt out of those furtherances.

Personal Accounts

Users should be aware that any information about themselves that they post in a publicly viewable place, such as customize homepages, discussion forums, etc., may be seen by other users as well as by site administrators. This Privacy Policy covers information communicated between the NSDL and the user for activities such as account registration and maintenance, but when the user communicates their information in a publicly viewable web space, the degree of privacy or anonymity covering that information is entirely up to the individual user. Because of this, NSDL recommends that users under the age of thirteen not participate in publicly accessed forums or services.


HTTP Cookies are small text files that a website uploads to a user’s computer in order to provide the user’s computer with enough information that it remembers the user’s previous visit(s). This allows the user to access certain features of the website more efficiently than they would if it was a first visit or if a computer is set to not accept cookies. While cookies, in general, are innocuous, they have also raised controversy as some people feel that there are similarities between having a cookie on a computer and having a surveillance device in their homes. This is a misunderstanding of the underlying technology of cookies. While they do convey information about a user, this is solely information about a user’s computer and browser session (IP address, navigation, etc.), and this information is collected for the purposes of authentication, user tracking, and maintaining user preferences.

There are two types of HTTP cookies 1. Session cookies are cookies that reside on the user’s computer only during the time when the user is online at the cookie providing website. These allow the online system to respond more quickly and personally during the user’s session than it would be able to without having the preloaded information that the cookie enables. 2. Persistent cookies are cookies that remain on a user’s computer after closing the browser session during which the cookie was downloaded on the local computer. Persistent cookies allow fast access during subsequent visits to the website. Any computer can be configured to accept all cookies, accept some cookies, or accept no cookies. Accepting no cookies can often prevent full use of a particular website which might require the use of cookies. Additionally, cookies can be set to expire, so that after a certain amount of time elapses between uses the cookies are simply deleted from the user’s computer. Some good information about cookies can be found on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTP_cookie

Compliance with court orders

NSDL will not voluntarily share user information with parties outside of the project’s scope. In the event of a subpoena or court order for the release of such information to local, state, or federal courts, NSDL will comply with the jurisdictional law regarding such a transmission of information and will supply only that information which it is legally compelled to hand over. Every reasonable attempt will be made to preserve the anonymity and/or privacy of individuals identifies in whatever data is subpoenaed. NSDL will also make reasonable and legal effort to inform users about the transmission of such subpoenaed data.

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