Choose Privacy Week: Day 7

May 7:

Choose Privacy Week, May 1-7, 2014, is a time to advocate for privacy rights and to examine how we can protect ourselves against threats to these rights.

This past week, we have discussed the importance of safeguarding our private information. To learn more on how you can gain insight into the issues of privacy, please visit us at the Brookens Library and check out these resources we have available.

Additional Resources:

Duke, L. “The picture of conformity: In a watched society, more security comes with tempered actions,” The Washington Post, p. C01, (2007, November 16).

Duke explains how monitoring, eavesdropping, and lack of public anonymity in surveillance cultures create pressure for conformity in which people modify their behaviors so they don’t stand out. In such societies, freedom of action, creativity, and uniqueness are easily lost.



Rosen, J. “Why privacy matters,” Wilson Quarterly, 24(4) (Autumn 2000), 32–38.

A serious but accessible discussion of the importance of privacy even within America’s culture of exhibitionism. Rosen suggests that people want not the right to be left alone, but “the right to control the conditions of their own exposure,” and he says, “privacy protects us from being judged out of context in a world of short attention spans.” He argues that privacy supports the development of autonomy, individuality, and creativity; the building of friendships and intimate human relationships; the playing of appropriate roles in varied social settings; democratic political debate; and workplace productivity.



Solove, D. J. “‘I’ve got nothing to hide’ and other misunderstandings of privacy,” San Diego Law Review, 44, GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 289.

A lengthy, scholarly, and compelling response to the question, “I’ve got nothing to hide, so why should I care about privacy?” Solove discusses the ways the question typically appears and is answered, explains why existing ways of understanding privacy have led to confusion, and argues that the “nothing to hide” argument stems from faulty assumptions about the value of privacy. The article ends with concrete examples of the ways in which privacy is important to other issues we may care about, such as ensuring that a range of viewpoints are expressed in society, maintaining an appropriate power balance between individuals and institutions, and deciding what kind of government we want to have.



Solove, D. J. “The future of privacy,” American Libraries, 39(8) (September 2008), 56–59.

Solove addresses the question: With so much information being gathered, with so much surveillance, and with so much disclosure, how can people expect privacy anymore? He argues that privacy law should not be about preserving the current state of affairs, but rather about shaping the future we desire. The article outlines the ways in which the concept of privacy is often understood too narrowly, leading us to neglect important privacy concerns.




Best, S. J., Krueger, B. S., & Ladewig, J. “The polls—trends: Privacy in the information age,” Public Opinion Quarterly, 70(3) (Fall 2006), 375–401.

This review article presents a summary of the results of longitudinal polls on privacy invasions and surveillance techniques over the last 15 years, showing that, generally speaking, “concern about threats to personal privacy has been growing in recent years.” An appendix to the nine-page article provides actual language of the poll questions.



Johns, S., & Lawson, K. “University undergraduate students and library-related privacy issues,” Library & Information Science Research, 27 (November 2005), 485–95.

Johns and Lawson surveyed 444 undergraduate students and found that most students (85%) said online privacy was important or very important to them. Large majorities of students agreed that a university or library should obtain private information only with students’ consent, should collect student information only for clearly defined purposes, and should never disseminate students’ personal information to outside agencies. A large majority of students also felt it was not justifiable to develop student profiles for the purpose of improving library collections and services.



Bowers, S. L. “Privacy and library records,” The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 32(4) (July 2006), 377–383.

Written by an attorney and MLIS student, this article traces the history of privacy as it relates to library records. Bowers provides a readable summary of the development of the concept of privacy in the U.S. Constitution, case law, and federal and state statutes, followed by a discussion of intrusions on the privacy of library records – and the responses of librarians – from the 1940s to late 2005.



Adams, H. R. “Privacy & confidentiality: Now more than ever, youngsters need to keep their library use under wraps,” American Libraries, 33(10) (November 2002), 44–48.

Drawing on interviews with school and youth services librarians across the country, Adams presents a variety of privacy issues that affect young patrons and describes the ways in which librarians work to protect privacy.



Hildebrand, J. “Is privacy reserved for adults? Children’s rights at the public library,” School Library Journal, 37(1) (January 1991), 21–25.

Explores the difficult questions that often arise regarding the confidentiality of children’s library records, such as: to whom is the library responsible – the child possessing the library card, or the parent who is held financially responsible? Does a parent have the right to know what a child has borrowed? Does protecting children’s privacy prevent parents from being involved in their child’s reading and borrowing?





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