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

General Interest

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.

“Today’s students not only face all of the potential threats to the privacy of their reading habits that adults face from government surveillance and commercial tracking, they also face a system of continuous assessment and oversight by an educational establishment that seeks to track almost all aspects of the student’s educational activities,” said Michael Robinson, chair of the ALA-IFC Privacy Subcommittee, and Head of Systems at the Consortium Library, University of Alaska – Anchorage. “In developing these guidelines, we not only want to provide librarians and educators with appropriate data management and security practices, we also want to inspire a new regard for students’ privacy rights, especially their right to keep their reading habits and intellectual activities private.”

“School librarians not only defend student privacy, they also work to educate students, parents, teachers, and school administrators about the tenets of privacy,” said ALA President Sari Feldman.  “These guidelines will provide the crucial guidance and information they need as leaders and advocates for students’ privacy in a time when new technologies are enabling greater collection and use of student data.”

The guidelines are now available online on the ALA website.  The IFC Privacy Subcommittee encourages anyone with comments or questions to send correspondence to its ALA staff liaison, Deborah Caldwell-Stone in the Office for Intellectual Freedom at

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