New privacy guidelines encourage libraries and vendors to work together to protect reader privacy

For Immediate Release
Tue, 08/04/2015


Heather Cho
Media Relations Specialist
Public Awareness Office

CHICAGO — On June 29, 2015, the American Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Committee approved a new document, "Library Privacy Guidelines for E-book Lending and Digital Content Vendors."  The document, which outlines best practices for vendors to follow to protect the privacy of library users,  is intended to encourage vendors and libraries to work together to develop effective privacy protection policies and procedures for eBook lending and the delivery of digital content to library patrons.  The document was developed by the IFC Privacy Subcommittee, with input from additional ALA committees, interest groups, and roundtables with an interest in privacy.  

"A gap has grown between libraries' long-standing tradition of protecting privacy and common data management practices that have developed as libraries strive to deliver digital content, embrace the modern Web, and provide personalized services," said Michael Robinson, chair of the ALA-IFC Privacy Subcommittee, and Head of Systems at the Consortium Library, University of Alaska - Anchorage.  "These guidelines attempt to balance the need to protect reader privacy with the needs of libraries to collect user data and provide personalized services, while respecting and protecting the individual's right to make their own informed decisions in regards to the privacy of their data."

"Even as libraries transform to offer content via new technologies and delivery systems, librarians remain staunch protectors of patrons' privacy," said ALA President Sari Feldman. "These guidelines are an important step in helping libraries work with vendors to develop necessary protections for readers' privacy.”

The guidelines are now available online on the ALA website The IFC Privacy Subcommittee encourages anyone with comments or questions to send correspondence to its ALA staff liaison, Deborah Caldwell-Stone in the Office for Intellectual Freedom at

The ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee, a Committee of Council, recommends policies, practices, and procedures as may be necessary to safeguard the rights of library users, libraries, and librarians, in accordance with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Library Bill of Rights, as adopted by the ALA Council.  The IFC Privacy Subcommittee monitors ongoing privacy developments in libraries, including technology, politics, legislation, and social trends and proposes actions to the IFC to meet the privacy needs of librarians and library users.

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom is charged with implementing ALA policies concerning the concept of intellectual freedom as embodied in the Library Bill of Rights, the Association’s basic policy on free access to libraries and library materials. The goal of the office is to educate librarians and the general public about the nature and importance of intellectual freedom in libraries. OIF supports the work of the Intellectual Freedom Committee and its Privacy Subcommittee.    For more information, visit