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Libraries and Privacy

A padlock superimposed over a blue circuit board pattern.According to the American Library Association (ALA), “The right to privacy – the right to read, consider, and develop ideas and beliefs free from observation or unwanted surveillance by the government or others – is the bedrock foundation for intellectual freedom. Privacy is essential to free inquiry in the library because it enables library users to select, access, and consider information and ideas without fear of embarrassment, judgment, punishment, or ostracism.”

Additionally, the Library Bill of Rights, article 7 states:

All people, regardless of origin, age, background, or views, possess a right to privacy and confidentiality in their library use.

Libraries should advocate for, educate about, and protect people’s privacy, safeguarding all library use data, including personally identifiable information.

One way to see the value placed on privacy at PCC Libraries is that the library does not keep a record of items you’ve checked out once they’ve been returned. This is in an effort to protect your privacy. Learn more about privacy and confidentiality of library records at the PCC Library.

Current privacy issues

The Opt Out: School Devices are Sharing Your Family’s Data, But You Can Stop Them
Popular Science, September 1, 2022.

State Privacy Legislation Tracker
International Association of Privacy Professionals (April 14, 2023)

Two Years Post-Roe: A Better Understanding of Digital Threats
Electronic Frontier Foundation, April 18, 2024

US Lawmakers Unveil a Plan to Give all Americans a Right to Online Privacy
CNN, April 8, 2024.

Recommended Websites

American Library Association: Privacy
Learn more about your right to privacy.

Big Data in Public Health: Terminology, Machine Learning, and Privacy
From Annual Review of Public Health, this scholarly article examines how public health research and practice uses the large amount of information gathered by social media and other digital services, determines appropriate terminology, and discusses the ethical implications.

Electronic Frontier Foundation
The Electronic Frontier Foundation defends civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. Check out their Guide To Google Account Privacy Settings For Students.

National Cybersecurity Alliance: Managing Your Privacy
Practical tips to keep you safer online.

Protecting Your Child’s Privacy Online
Information from the Federal Trade Commission about the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). As a parent, you have control over the personal information companies collect online from your kids under 13. This site includes links to other information about protecting kids online.

Surveillance Self-Defense: Tips, Tools and How-to for Safer Online Communications
A guide to protecting yourself from electronic surveillance for people all over the world from beginner to advanced.

Tom’s Guide: Zoom privacy and security issues—Here’s everything that’s wrong (so far)
Check this frequently updated list of privacy and security problems found in Zoom, how the company responds to them, and what you can do to protect yourself.


American Library Association. “Library Bill of Rights.” American Library Association, 29 Jan. 2019, Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

—. “Privacy.” American Library Association, Oct. 2021, Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.