At ALA Midwinter, the YALSA Board was pleased to adopt the position paper “The Library’s Role in protecting Teens’ Privacy” written by Mary K. Chelton.
Libraries play an integral role in protecting the intellectual freedom and privacy rights of our communities and users. In early 2016, the FBI published Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools, a proposed set of guidelines for surveying internet use of students seen to be at-risk of recruitment by terrorist organizations. These guidelines cast American high schools at hotbeds for terrorist action, and recommend identifying teens for surveillance and intervention on factors so broad that almost every teen fits the description.
It is documents like this that remind us of the important role that libraries play in protecting the privacy of teens (both in and out of school). This highly connected population, is already subjected to privacy threats every day, and policies like the one proposed by the FBI are in direct opposition of the library’s mission.
In the newly adopted position paper, Chelton suggests several actions we can take to protect the privacy rights of teens:
- Refresh your knowledge of key documents, like ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Manual and AASL ‘s Standards for the 21st Century Learner
- Report challenges or violations of teens’ privacy to ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom
- Embed educating teens and their parents and caregivers about their rights into library services and programming
- Keep up to date on privacy and surveillance issues through resources such as ALA’s District Dispatch and the YALSAblog
- Seek out training on topics including but not limited to: privacy, students’ rights, libraries’ role in intellectual freedom, and how to leverage technology tools that protect privacy
- Participate in events such as the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom’s Choose Privacy Week
- Take advantage of technology that protects library patrons’ privacy
- Make a commitment to reach out to and serve at-risk youth in the community and address their needs, whatever they may be
- Identify and work with community partners who are also committed to protecting teens’ rights
The YALSA Board adopted the position paper at ALA Midwinter and has committed to reviewing YALSA guidelines and policies to assure teen information seeking and privacy needs are addressed.
See the full board agenda and documents online to get the details of what the board talked about. We will also be posting meeting minutes there in the next week or so. You can also read the upcoming blog posts from board members about some of the actions taken at Midwinter.
YALSA Board Member 2015-2018