Library Bill of Rights Article Draft Update

The ALA Intellectual Freedom Manual Review Working Group, which reviewed all documents in preparation for the next edition of the Intellectual Freedom Manual, recommended consideration of updating the Library Bill of Rights in a narrow manner to add an Article VII focused on the concept of ensuring privacy and confidentiality for library users.

The rationale:

Article III of the Code of Ethics includes the protection of the library users’ privacy and confidentiality as a responsibility of library staff’s professional responsibilities; however, the right of library users to privacy and confidentiality is not included in the Library Bill of Rights.

The Code of Ethics provides ethical guidance to library staff, while the Library Bill of Rights does not specifically include privacy and confidentiality among its articles described as “basic policies” which should govern the services of all libraries.

When adopted as policy by a library’s governing body, the Library Bill of Rights can represent the library’s promise to the user.

In an era of big data, Facebook revelations, and tenuous privacy protections and data security, the Library Bill of Rights should be amended to include the expectation (and promise) that libraries protect users’ privacy and maintain the confidentiality and security of their personally identifiable information.

The Intellectual Freedom Committee would appreciate feedback on this article draft by Friday, December 21. Feedback can be posted in the following two ways:

  • Use this Google Doc link to post feedback to Google Doc draft. The IFC requests that you post comments on the document, rather than edit the document directly. To post a comment, select “Insert” in the top menu, and then click “Comment.” Comments may be posted anonymously (if you’re not signed into a Google account) or publicly (if you’re signed into your Google account).
  • Using “track changes,” add comments and edits to the attached Word doc draft. You can email them to me ( or post them as a comment to this ALA Connect post, and I’ll forward it to working group members.

The Intellectual Freedom Committee will make revisions to the drafts in light of your suggestions and plans to distribute the documents to ALA Council prior to the Midwinter Meeting in Seattle. The committee also plans to present them at ALA Council Forum for further feedback.