Privacy Toolkit

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Advocacy at the Local, State, & National Levels

You and your library or institution should:

  • keep informed, monitor, and advocate for  legislation that protects user privacy by contacting elected officials
    • Link to ALA's Washington Office for
      • Information about  pending legislation and potential impact on libraries.
      • ALA resolutions that support or oppose legislative actions.
      • Bill status.
    • Link to the Office for Intellectual Freedom for privacy resources.
      • Information about   privacy and the impact of various legislative and judicial action on free expression. See American Library Association Privacy Policies and Statements
      • The Privacy Tool Kit (2014)  
      • ALA resolutions reaffirming the principles of intellectual freedom and confidentiality of library records.
      • Privacy: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Right
      • State Privacy Laws Regarding Library Records
      • Confidentiality and Coping with Law Enforcement Inquiries: Guidelines for the Library and its Staff  
    • Link to Freedom to Read Foundation for
      • Information from the Freedom to Read foundation which is particularly interested in protecting patron privacy and curtailing expanded government surveillance powers in libraries and bookstores. 
  • contact legislators at the federal, state, and local levels to persuade lawmakers to amend and change laws that infringe on civil liberties. 
    • Attend National Library Legislative Day sponsored by ALA and DCLA
    • Attend your state legislative day.
    • Establish a personal relationship with your federal, state and local legislators and staff.
    • Write letters and include resolutions passed by your professional organization
  • Hold law enforcement agencies accountable.
    • Ask local law enforcement officials to speak to local organizations, town meetings and participate in programs at your library.
    • Keep abreast of local law enforcement activities concerning civil liberties and privacy.
    • Keep informed about court cases such as the denial of Freedom of Information Act requests for information about surveillance of library users.
  • educate library and school boards and staff, communities, media, and local governments by:
    • Publicizing the need for libraries to adopt privacy policies. 
    • Proposing the creation of a Privacy Officer whose duties would include ensuring institutional rules and procedures to promote and confidentiality.
    • Writing newspaper articles, guest editorials, and letters to the editor.
    • Making presentations to local and civic organizations.
    • Keeping local government officials up to date on privacy issues.
    • Gathering information about impact on local communities by compiling Web site links concerning the effects of laws and governmental actions that infringe on civil liberties and privacy.
    • Inviting privacy specialists to speak and conduct workshops.
  • organize a publicity campaign.
    • Prepare brochures and handouts to explain local and national impacts.
    • Take out ads in local   newspapers. 
    • Organize town meetings and public forums.
  • form or join coalitions.
    • Develop alliances with other groups advocating for privacy rights.
    • Cooperate with other interested organizations like the ACLU, AAUW, League of Women Voters, Common Cause, religious and civic groups, and local bar associations in discussions about how to counter the sections of laws that infringe on civil liberties.
    • Make your community a “Civil Liberties Safe Zone.” See the Bill of Rights Defense Committee.
    • Make information available to those, such as library boards and organizations, local governmental bodies and others, who want to pass resolutions opposing laws that infringe on civil liberties (or parts of them) and related matters.
  • Urge libraries to join court challenges.
    • Investigate appropriateness of joining other groups' initiated court challenges.
    • Keep informed about court cases such as the denial of Freedom of Information Act requests for information about surveillance of library users.

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