Choose Privacy Week 2016: Resources for Teaching Privacy

Posted by on May 6, 2016 in Choose Privacy Week, Privacy Awareness, Privacy Education, Programming, Schools, Student privacy, Youth and Privacy | 0 comments

by Dorothea Salo

If knowing about privacy-protecting practices is half the battle, teaching them to others is the other half. Many librarians in many contexts find themselves needing to teach patrons, students, or even each other about protecting privacy online. Fortunately, no one has to start from zero: many excellent teaching resources already exist. Those listed below, arranged by audience, are just the tip of the iceberg.


Higher Education

  • Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics offers a “Your Privacy Online” curriculum aimed at higher education (but also suitable for high school). A typical module includes readings, links, and discussion questions. The rest of their website is a rich source of readings, case studies, and other useful classroom material.

Public Library Patrons

  • Hold a CryptoParty! CryptoParties, despite the possibly-intimidating name that libraries should feel free to change, are meant to be low-stress, high-value explorations of everyday online privacy improvements.
  • San Jose Public Library has mix-and-match tutorials available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese in its Virtual Privacy Lab.

Library Colleagues

Our own colleagues may be the most critical audience of all. No one alone can reach more than a fraction of the library’s patron base; the entire library staff, armed with best practices, can accomplish far more. Fortunately, the open web has several library-specific privacy resources, as well as materials librarians can use for specific privacy-related situations that arise.

  • ALA’s Privacy Tool Kit is a well-organized and thorough soup-to-nuts guide for developing and implementing library privacy policies.
  • The Library Freedom Project has a wealth of mix-and-match links to privacy-related material. The site is not ideal for those brand-new to privacy issues; the links are categorized, but not annotated or prioritized. Librarians working through what they need to teach colleagues brand-new to privacy issues, however, will be richly rewarded.
  • Dr. Jen Golbeck teaches a short course in online privacy literacy for CEU credit ($379) at Maryland.
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Surveillance Self-Defense site is in-depth and technical, but well worth the time. The site is handily divided into “overviews,” “tutorials,” and finally “briefings” about specific situations that library staff or patrons may need to deal with.

A few specific issues

Now and then, specific privacy questions suddenly turn urgent. Two common ones:

Dorothea Salo is a Faculty Associate at the iSchool at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she teaches courses in IT, organization of information, and publishing/scholarly communication.

Choose Privacy 2016 – ALA-IFC Releases New Library Privacy Guidelines To Improve Reader Privacy Protections for Students

Posted by on May 6, 2016 in Choose Privacy Week, libraries, Protecting Privacy, reader privacy, Schools, student data privacvy, Student privacy, Youth and Privacy | 0 comments

To highlight the theme for Choose Privacy Week 2016 – students’ and minors’ privacy – the American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee approved a new document, “Library Privacy Guidelines for Students in K-12 Schools” on May 2, 2016.   The document, which surveys the state of students’ privacy in K-12 schools, provides guidance for school libraries and educational institutions seeking to protect students’ privacy, both while online and while reading or engaging in research. The document was developed by the IFC Privacy Subcommittee, with input from additional ALA committees, interest groups, and roundtables with an interest in privacy.


Choose Privacy Week 2016 – Engaging Students In Discussions About Privacy

Posted by on May 6, 2016 in Choose Privacy Week, civic engagement, Privacy Awareness, Privacy Education, Youth and Privacy | 0 comments

by Carolyn Caywood

At the American Library Association’s 2006 annual conference, ALA Council passed a resolution to work “toward a national conversation about privacy as an American value.” At that time, there was no discussion guide to structure a conversation on privacy available from the national organizations that develop frameworks for dialogue. ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) and the Fostering Civic Engagement Member Initiative Group  (MIG) undertook to create one.

Interested volunteers from IFRT and the MIG convened groups in their library or community to get a wide range of public opinion on the topic of privacy. Our experience was universally rewarding – people were so appreciative of being asked and listened to, and they commended the librarians for being interested in their concerns.

We asked neutral, open questions to get people talking.  For example, “What is important to you personally about privacy?” We noted both their concerns, and the language and anecdotes they used to explain those concerns, in order to make our community discussion guide resonate with the public. The goal was not data for statistics, but rather to put the issue of privacy into words and ideas that are meaningful to the public. The overriding theme we heard was, who can we trust? You will find the guide we developed, and related materials for community conversations, at

One of the groups we particularly wanted to hear from was teenagers. It seemed that every adult had an opinion about teens and privacy, mostly that teens didn’t care about it. What we learned was very different. The teens we listened to cared deeply about their privacy, but their ideas of what needed to be private weren’t always the same as adults’. And, like adults, their ideas about how to protect their privacy weren’t always successful. Here are some of the concerns we heard from middle and high school groups. (more…)