By: Tess Wilson
In response to the seemingly relentless surveillance from governments and corporations, the Library Freedom Project (LFP) began its work in 2015. Some of the first endeavors in this crusade involved the implementation of Tor within libraries. Tor, a free anonymity network, provides online privacy for its users through the use of thousands of relays that work to conceal identity, location, and search history. While this network can be utilized by individual users or institutions who seek online anonymity, Alison Macrina, the founder of the LFP, realized the potential of utilizing this network in public libraries. The project’s current work includes delivering privacy training workshops in collaboration with the ACLU; designing and disseminating curricula like Online Privacy Basics, Online Privacy for Kids, and more; and encouraging institutions across the country to sign a Digital Privacy Pledge to “move all the services under their control to HTTPS.”
The latest exciting development in the LFP’s mission to arm libraries with privacy tools and techniques is the Library Freedom Institute (LFI). In partnership with New York University, this six-month interactive workshop uses a train-the-trainers model to examine online privacy in depth with a group of librarians. The coursework will expand upon the LFP’s Privacy Toolkit for Librarians, involve contributions from guest lecturers, and engage participants in conversation and collaboration. By the end of this course—which began Monday, June 4th—these 13 librarians will be well-equipped to serve as privacy advocates in their libraries and communities.
The LFI is designed to embody the project’s four-pronged approach to privacy:
- Educate. We educate our communities on privacy best practices, why privacy matters, and how to be a safer citizen on the web.
- Evangelize. We believe maintaining our privacy is critical to our everyday lives, and spread the word over numerous mediums.
- Organize. Along with our vast community of friends and partners, we rally and organize for privacy-related causes.
- Engage. We take action against governments and organizations that act against the interest of our privacy.
In a world of ever-increasing connectivity, it is vital that citizens understand their privacy rights, and how to reclaim them. With this institute, the LFP aims to create the foundation for a network of librarians who can act as stewards of this information. And of course, librarians and advocates everywhere are encouraged to implement the existing privacy curricula within their own communities.
Tess Wilson is an Outreach Librarian at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and a Trainer with The Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Her writing can be found on the YALSA and OIF blogs, on VIDA Reviews, and on the Eleventh Stack blog. Currently, she is an ALA Emerging Leader, a PaLA Leadership Academy participant, and a librarian in the inaugural Library Freedom Institute cohort. She is a collector of everything from big dictionaries to small rocks, and her latest acquisitions were an MFA in Creative Writing from Chatham University and an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh. Find her on Twitter @tesskwg.