For immediate release | May 4, 2020

Privacy During a Pandemic: Town Hall for Library, Information Workers for Choose Privacy Week

CHICAGO – When states and local governments closed libraries and schools to curtail the COVID-19 pandemic, library workers and educators responded to the emergency by quickly adopting commercial online tools and platforms to ensure continued access to resources. But with the emergency becoming a new normal, libraries need to critically evaluate these technologies and address any potential privacy and security gaps that could pose a threat to users' privacy.

To mark Choose Privacy Week, the IFC Privacy Subcommittee will sponsor “Protecting Privacy in a Pandemic: A Town Hall for Library and Information Workers,” on Friday, May 8 at 1 p.m. CST. The virtual conversation is an opportunity for library and information workers to discuss their concerns and issues about privacy that are arising as libraries move to digital platforms and remote services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Discussion leaders include Erin Berman, Division Director of the Learning Group at Alameda County Library and Chair of the IFC Privacy Subcommittee; Michelle Gibeault, Chair of Instruction and Librarian for Humanities at Tulane University and co-convener of the Digital Library Federation’s Privacy and Ethics in Technology (PET) working group; and Bill Marden, Director of Data Privacy and Compliance at the New York Public Library and a member and past chair of the IFC Privacy Subcommittee.

Each speaker will highlight particular concerns related to privacy, including best practices, video platforms, data collection and vendor relations. There will be ample opportunity for participants to ask questions and share their experiences and solutions regarding the protection of user privacy in a pandemic. All are welcome to participate and can register for the free town hall via this link.

Choose Privacy Week is an annual event that provides libraries around the country with an opportunity to promote the importance of individual privacy rights and celebrate the unique role of libraries and librarians in protecting individual privacy rights. Libraries are encouraged to offer privacy-centered programming, displays, and other learning opportunities that assist patrons and librarians alike to learn, think critically and make more informed choices about privacy.

The ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee’s Privacy Subcommittee monitors ongoing privacy developments in libraries, including technology, politics, legislation, and social trends. It proposes actions to ALA's Intellectual Freedom Committee that promote best policies and practices for library users' privacy and generally defend and protect the privacy of library users, librarians, and the public.

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 and with educating librarians and the 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


ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom