Choose Privacy Week is Here!

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Choose Privacy Week Is Here!

Patron privacy and confidentiality are cornerstones of our profession, as explained in the Article 6 of ALA Library Bill of Rights. To highlight their importance, for one week each May, the American Library Association  “promotes the importance of individual privacy rights and celebrates libraries and librarians’ unique role in protecting privacy,” through Choose Privacy Week programming.

This year the programming is focusing on inclusiveness in privacy education and outreach. Much like how libraries are go-to resources for assisting community members affected by the digital divide — those without internet access or with lower levels of digital literacy —  libraries have an important role to play in assisting vulnerable members of our communities in helping protect their information. A recent editorial in the New York Times entitled “The Devastating Consequences of Being Poor in the Digital Age,” illustrates this in explicit detail.

There are numerous free resources to help both library staff and patrons understand the nuances of privacy, some of which are highlighted below. After exploring each resource, consider some ways you might implement these resources at your library. You’ll find a list of possibilities at the end of this post.


  • Virtual Privacy Lab from San Jose Public Library
    This online resource cover privacy topics such as how the internet works, your information footprint, and online tracking in common sense language. Included at the end of each topic page is a short interactive survey which helps build a customized list of tools, apps, and resources for further investigation. Available in English, Español (Spanish) and Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
  • Library Privacy Guidelines and Library Privacy Checklists from the American Library Association Library Privacy Guidelines “attempt to balance the need to protect reader privacy with the needs of libraries to collect user data and provide personalized services, while respecting and protecting the individual’s right to make their own informed decisions in regards to how much privacy they are willing to trade for convenience or added benefits.” The topics covered assist public, academic and school libraries with the foundation to review their current technology offerings with a critical eye toward privacy.  The Library Privacy Checklists are companion resources to the guidelines and assist library staff from all library sizes with implementing the guidelines based on priority and feasibility.
  • Digital Privacy & Security in the Library from NYC Digital Safety This is a suite of “seven online training modules that feature core concepts in data privacy and online security.” These modules focus on interactions between library staff and their patrons” and cover topics such as how Internet technologies transmit and receive information, how data is collected and shared, how to secure personally identifiable information, prevent tracking, avoid scams, and minimize our digital footprint to keep our data safe.  The modules include video, transcripts, short quizzes, and resources for follow-up.
  • Privacy & Security Resources from Mozilla
    As part of their Internet Health Report project, Mozilla (which produces the Firefox Internet browser) compiles a handy list of how-tos for everyday folks on how to make the Internet a healthier place so we can connect, learn, and grow safely. Their guide on Privacy & Security provides helpful tips and links on how to take back control of our apps and online account data through implementing strong passwords and data encryption.

How to Integrate These Resources
No step is too small in beginning the process of sharing this information with your patrons and your community. Here are some ideas of how to approach it:

  • Create a privacy page on your library’s website and promote it through your social media accounts.
  • Hold a workshop with library patrons using some of the tools and tips.
  • Highlight a few resources in an email to staff ahead of a staff meeting and then take a few short minutes to discuss once you’re all in person.
  • Integrate some of the privacy guidelines into your library policies and strategic plan.
  • Send out resources in your library’s newsletter.
  • Present these resources to your community partners, including workforce departments, schools and other non-profits to show them the library and its staff are proactive in thinking about their privacy.

Questions or comments? Contact Cindy Fisher, Digital Inclusion Consultant, at 512-463-4855 or

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