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Join Privacy Experts in Town Hall on Surveillance in Academic Libraries

Discussion of the possibility of surveillance in university libraries has caused concern and sparked conversations among library workers and other privacy and intellectual freedom advocates. Join privacy experts in a discussion about working with information security to protect user privacy in the free town hall “Surveillance in Academic Libraries?! A Search for Better Ideas” on Dec. 1 at 1 p.m. CST.

A recent keynote given at the virtual security summit of The Scholarly Networks Security Initiative claimed that from an information security perspective, libraries are a “weak link.” The talk proposed surveillance of library users, and suggested that libraries might broker patron data to secure lower prices on subscription resources. The talk’s stated purpose was to stimulate thought and produce better ideas.

Academic libraries depend on the expertise of information security professionals in delivering access to electronic resources. Likewise, library users depend on libraries to offer access to information without infringing on their personal rights to privacy. This town hall will explore the mutual and crucial understanding and collaboration between libraries and information security personnel.

Information security engineer Roy Hatcher will offer his own analysis, answer questions and discuss how libraries can work with information security to protect user privacy. All are welcome to participate and can register for the town hall in advance. Attendees are encouraged to bring their questions, concerns and ideas. Academic librarian Michelle Gibeault will moderate the discussion. 

This webinar is hosted by the Privacy Subcommittee of the American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee, in collaboration with the Digital Library Federation’s Privacy and Ethics in Technology Working Group and the Library Freedom Project.


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.

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