For immediate release | April 17, 2012

Libraries empower Americans to Choose Privacy from surveillance

CHICAGO – In today’s digital world, nothing is private. Every keystroke, every Web search and every email is recorded. Whether through social media, credit cards, GPS, biometrics or even coupons, emerging technologies have made it possible for organizations and government agencies to monitor the activities of citizens through surveillance.

The American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) invites everyone to visit their local library to learn more about the decline of privacy rights and the government's growing use of surveillance tools during Choose Privacy Week, May 1 – 7, 2012.

Now in its third year, Choose Privacy Week (May 1-7) is a national public awareness campaign that aims to educate the public on how to protect their privacy and understand their rights.Through special programs, workshops and events, Choose Privacy Week aims to deepen public awareness about the serious issue of government surveillance, and offers individuals the resources to think critically and make more informed choices about their privacy.

"Libraries are the ideal places to come together to consider and discuss the incremental loss of privacy and liberty that occurs when the government decides to monitor citizens' daily activities without any cause for suspicion,” said Barbara Jones, director of the OIF. "Libraries are trusted institutions with a long history of protecting and defending readers' privacy rights, including the freedom to read and receive ideas anonymously without government interference."

Highlights of Choose Privacy Week include:

  • A series of online presentations and blog posts by academics, librarians and civil liberties experts that explore the growing role of government surveillance in our lives. The presentations are intended to help persons better understand how government agencies and corporations are tracking their daily activities, and how that impacts their civil liberties.
  • The preliminary results of the survey, "Librarian Attitudes and Behaviors Regarding Informational Privacy," released to coincide with Choose Privacy Week. The survey, which is funded by a generous grant from the Open Society Foundations and managed by Dr. Michael Zimmer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's School of Information Studies, will provide an update on the 2008 survey assessing librarians' attitudes about privacy, both within the library as well as towards increased government and commercial surveillance activities.
  • The premiere of a new short form documentary that examines modern day government surveillance techniques used to spy on immigrant communities in America and the decision by local, state and federal government to use these techniques to monitor and track the activities of all Americans. The film features commentary from experts and everyday citizens who ask important questions about the impact of the growing surveillance state on national security, civil liberties and privacy rights. Featured speakers include Michael German, ACLU senior policy counsel for national security and privacy; Margaret Huang, executive director of the Rights Working Group; Paromita Shah, associate director of the National Immigration Project; Julia Shearson, executive director at the Council on American Islamic Relations-Cleveland; and Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

The American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom established Choose Privacy Week in 2010 to help libraries work with their communities in navigating these complicated but vital issues. Privacy has long been a cornerstone of library services in America and a right that librarians defend every day. The theme for Choose Privacy Week 2012 is "Freedom from Surveillance."

For more information on Choose Privacy Week, visit or contact Jennifer Petersen, ALA PR coordinator at 312-280-5043,


Macey Morales

Media Relations Manager

American Library Association

1-800-545-2433 ext. 4393