ALA issues new guidelines for developing library privacy policy

Contact: Deborah Caldwell-Stone
OIF Deputy Director
312-280-4224

For Immediate Release
September19, 2003

ALA issues new guidelines for developing library privacy policy

The American Library Association (ALA) is pleased to announce the Guidelines for Developing a Library Privacy Policy, prepared by the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC).

Increased identity theft, emerging technologies that profile and identify individuals, new and expanded federal and state privacy laws, and increased law enforcement monitoring prompt the IFC to urge libraries to act now to develop and/or revise their privacy policies.    Librarians play an essential role in protecting confidential user information from abuse. Written and up-to-date guidelines help ensure that libraries remain free from liability and public relations problems.  

“This new document offers a unique set of tools to address a broad range of privacy issues, providing libraries with a blueprint for safeguarding user privacy in the digital age,” said IFC Chair Nancy Kranich, who spearheaded the drafting of the guidelines  

The guidelines are based on the Federal Trade Commission’s “Fair Information Practice Principles.”   These five principles outline the user rights of Notice, Choice, Access, Security and Enforcement.   Included in the Guidelines document are:

  • Guidelines for Developing a Library Privacy Policy
  • Model Privacy Policy
  • Conducting a Privacy Audit

“When libraries adopt privacy policies, they address an issue of growing public concern and communicate their sustained commitment to protecting library users’ personally identifiable information,” Kranich added.   “Users expect to know how their information is used and the circumstances under which their personally identifiable information might be disclosed.”   

The new guidelines can be found online at:  www.ala.org/oif/iftoolkits/privacy/guidelines

For more information about the guidelines, contact Deborah Caldwell-Stone, Deputy Director, ALA Intellectual Freedom Office, dstone@ala.org.