For immediate release | May 5, 2016

New library privacy guidelines aim to strengthen reader privacy protections for K – 12 students

CHICAGO — On May 2, 2016, the American Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Committee approved a new document, "Library Privacy Guidelines for Students in K-12 Schools." The document, which surveys the state of students' privacy in K-12 schools, provides guidance for school libraries and educational institutions seeking to protect students' privacy, both while online and while reading or engaging in research. The document was developed by the IFC Privacy Subcommittee, with input from additional ALA committees, interest groups, and roundtables with an interest in privacy.

"Today's students not only face all of the potential threats to the privacy of their reading habits that adults face from government surveillance and commercial tracking, they also face a system of continuous assessment and oversight by an educational establishment that seeks to track almost all aspects of the student's educational activities," said Michael Robinson, chair of the ALA-IFC Privacy Subcommittee, and Head of Systems at the Consortium Library, University of Alaska - Anchorage. "In developing these guidelines, we not only want to provide librarians and educators with appropriate data management and security practices, we also want to inspire a new regard for students' privacy rights, especially their right to keep their reading habits and intellectual activities private."

"School librarians not only defend student privacy, they also work to educate students, parents, teachers, and school administrators about the tenets of privacy," said ALA President Sari Feldman. "These guidelines will provide the crucial guidance and information they need as leaders and advocates for students' privacy in a time when new technologies are enabling greater collection and use of student data."

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


Deborah Caldwell-Stone

Deputy Director

American Library Association

Office for Intellectual Freedom

(312) 280-4224