Blockchain: An opportunity to expand the role of library credentialing.

Library, School, or Organization Name: The Ferguson Library

Co-Presenter Name(s): Maisam Nouh, Systems Librarian, and Katherin Kern, Wymsical, Inc.

Area of the World from Which You Will Present: Stamford, Connecticut

Language in Which You Will Present: English

Target Audience(s): Public and Academic Librarians

Short Session Description (one line)The Ferguson Library is working with Wymsical, Inc to issue and renew library cards online for free, using the WAULT app.

Full Session Description (as long as you would like):

The fear of fraud is growing. News headlines report breaches of enterprises we trusted to protect our information. What’s broken?

A library card is a unique record. The owner controls it. If lost or stolen, they know it. They are motivated to avoid being responsible for someone else’s late fees and do something about it. But the inherent protection of a unique record controlled by the owner isn’t working today for almost every other credential.

The Ferguson Library and Wymsical Inc in Stamford, Connecticut believe that libraries may be one part of a new solution. WAULT by Wymsical is a de-centralized member network app that privately connects authenticated owners with issuers and 3rd parties to instantly verify that credentials and ownership control are tamper-free. The Ferguson Library is a WAULT member privately connecting with patrons through WAULT to issue and renew library cards online for free. Patrons who choose to upgrade to paid WAULT membership benefit by adding other credentials to their certified digital library card to create a chain of evidence of who they are. A portion of the patron’s WAULT member fees go to the Library, as the Anchor Institution of their chain of credentials.

The WAULT Owner’s chain of credentials is proof of who they are. Odds are growing that multiple people present the same valid credential. Currently, the real owner has limited means to know this is happening and to prevent it. Reportedly, a criminal organization matched breached names, addresses and social security numbers with zipcodes in 2017 disaster areas to file over 200,000 fake FEMA claims. The victims had no way to prove they are the rightful owner. The even better solution would be to pre-empt that claim before it happened.

Blockchain’s de-centralized real-time verification capabilities could be a way to do both. However, in a recent New York Times article, “. . . Mr. Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, has warned that the development of the blockchain could come with unintended consequences, like more activity from criminals operating outside the oversight of governments.”

How do we get there, from where we are today? Migrating existing databases in bulk risks “re-baking-in” fraudulent records and blindly trusting everyone who claims to be the owner is a flawed approach. We must reset the foundation of trust.

Our presentation will share an application with a holistic solution that bridges the current local physical world and the future digital global world, traditional centralized technologies and blockchain enabled de-centralized technologies, and a way to restore owner control of their credentials in order to reset the foundation for trust in society and the economy. 

Websites / URLs Associated with Your Session and we are building a new section for The Ferguson Library's site to describe the process.

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