May 1-7 is Choose Privacy Week sponsored by the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office of Intellectual Freedom. Why do libraries care about privacy? Because, as a rule, librarians believe that free and unfettered access to information is at the cornerstone of a free democracy. Over 80 years ago the ALA affirmed its stance on privacy by adopting a code of ethics that includes a statement on protecting library users’ privacy and confidentiality regarding any information or resources sought, borrowed, or consulted. Since that time, the ALA has fought against any legislation which threatens the privacy of library users’ reading and research habits. In fact, Article IV of the Library Bill of Rights states that “libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.” True intellectual freedom to express, explore, and exchange all ideas cannot occur where fear of intrusion or surveillance exists.
Here at the Library, we respect your privacy. You may ask us anything and borrow material without fear of judgment or retaliation. As soon as you return borrowed items, those records are purged. In the absence of a court order, we will never share your information with anyone. Period.
Choose Privacy Week is the opportunity to learn about threats to your privacy and make a commitment to protect yourself. Information is all around you. It is readily available and you should be encouraged to access it and use it. But don’t forget your fundamental rights to privacy. Know who is watching you (it’s not us!) and why and what you can do about it. Choose Privacy!