Choose Privacy Week: The Explanation

ALA Choose Privacy Week

This is the first in a series of posts designed to inform YOU (yes, once again, you) about Choose Privacy Week and what it is.

Let’s start with the basics:

Q: What is Choose Privacy Week?

A: “Choose Privacy Week is a new initiative that invites people into a national conversation about privacy rights in a digital age. The campaign gives individuals the resources to think critically and make more informed choices about their privacy.”

That is the long answer. The ALA (American Library Association) started promoting Choose Privacy Week as an opportunity to engage individuals and groups in conversations about privacy – what it is, what it means in a digital age, who is affected, and how.

Q: Why libraries?

A: “Libraries feel a professional responsibility to protect the right to search for information free from surveillance. Privacy has long been the cornerstone of library services in America”

That really is true. Some might not think of librarians as advocates and champions of privacy, but this week you will learn why privacy is a central value of librarians and libraries. From specific anecdotes to philosophies widely embraced by librarians across the country, I can guarantee that there is a long (very long) historical record backing up this claim.

Remember: libraries fight daily to keep some of the most widely contested books on their shelves (from The Catcher in the Rye to Harry Potter to The Hunger Games). If librarians are willing to fight for your freedom to read banned books, our reputation indicates a willingness to fight for other individual rights.

Q: Why do I care?

A: The answer to this question is concurrently simple and convoluted.

Simple: Your privacy is at stake, and it is your job to learn how to protect your privacy. If you do not, the chances of people learning information about you (facts that you would not want the majority of people to know, ever) increases dramatically.

Convoluted: You should not only want to learn about privacy, it is your responsibility to learn more about this digital world. You are a future leader of a world that networks and makes connections through Twitter, Facebook and other social networks.  You have relatives that probably remember the first televised Presidential debates, a landmark event. In 2008, Barack Obama made history mobilizing supporters via web-based grassroots campaigning through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and more.The way the world interacts has changed dramatically. With that change comes greater opportunities (like mobilizing grassroots campaigns) and greater risks – loss of privacy is a major risk.

Every single part of your official life – your birth, address, schooling, achievements, failures, finances, communications, purchase history – are documented online. The Library of Congress is archiving the world’s tweets - the LOC is documenting public thoughts some individuals didn’t realize were so public. Privacy is still a tangible reality, but it is important to ensure that right through awareness and education about policies and trends putting privacy in danger.

Don't let anyone erase your privacy

Alan Cleaver, “Privacy” April 17, 2012 via Flickr   

Stay tuned for more blog entries throughout the next two weeks. We will be highlighting themes related to privacy, such as Facebook privacy settings, CISPA, the role of libraries, and more. More information can be found on the Calarco Library Choose Privacy Week LibGuide.

Lastly, keep an eye out for the Library’s Choose Privacy Week survey!

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About Jenny Barrows

Librarian. Yogi. Reader. Runner. Certified awesome.

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