June 21, 2018

Stories, Songs, and Stretches! Online Certification Launching Spring 2019

Press Release from Connected Communities and Library Juice Academy

Stories, Songs, and Stretches! Online Certification Launching Spring 2019

June 21, 2018
Lexington KY
Media contact: Katie Scherrer, www.katiescherreryoga.com

Katie Scherrer of Connected Communities and Library Juice Academy are teaming up to release Stories, Songs, and Stretches! This online version of Katie’s certification of the same name trains participants to enhance preschool early learning with yoga-inspired movement and embodied play. Whether you’ve spent a career in the classroom or are brand new to working with kids 3-6, are an experienced yoga teacher or have never taken a yoga class in your life, Stories, Songs, and Stretches! will meet you where you are. This training is designed to respond to the unique needs—and share the diverse perspectives of—library staff, early childhood educators, and yoga teachers. It provides professional continuing education credits recognized by Yoga Alliance, most state libraries, and several state governing bodies of early childhood education.

Online training entails the completion of three, asynchronous, four-week classes:

Part One: Science and Standards
Take a deep dive into the science of yoga, national preschool standards in three distinct areas of early learning (physical literacy, early literacy, and social-emotional learning), and how they work together.

Part Two: Stretches and Stillness
Learn specific yoga-inspired mindful movement poses, sequences, and activities appropriate for preschool age children.

Part Three: Stories and Songs
Learn how to combine movement and play to create engaging, intentional, and fun programs and classes for preschool children and their adult caregivers.

Upon completion of all three modules, participants can complete a three-hour distance learning component and become certified Stories, Songs, and Stretches! program facilitators. Certified facilitators gain access to a private library of video demonstrations; branded, customizable marketing materials; and an online community of practice.

Workshops cost $175 each; all three training modules can be bundled together for $450. A diversity scholarship open to any interested person of color is available for every training session, which includes full tuition and a package of starter materials valued over $100. More information and application are available at www.katiescherreryoga.com. The first scheduled session of training will run March-May, 2019.

Katie Scherrer, MLIS, RYT is a library consultant and writer who worked for many years serving predominantly Latino communities as a bilingual children’s librarian. She has been teaching yoga to children and providing training to librarians and early childhood educators since 2012. The combination of these skills and passions led to the creation of Stories, Songs, and Stretches!, first as a book published by the American Library Association in 2017 and then as a certification program in 2018. Katie is also the coauthor of Once Upon a Cuento: Bilingual Storytimes in English and Spanish and one of the cofounders of the Be Project, a trauma-informed mindfulness education curriculum. More information about her work is available at www.connectedcommunitiesconsulting.com and www.katiescherreryoga.com.

Library Juice Academy offers a range of online professional development workshops for librarians and other library staff, focusing on practical topics to build new skills. Emphasis is on student interaction with instructors and with each other, supported by a variety of class assignments and reading materials. The instructors are librarians and LIS faculty who have developed specialized knowledge in the subjects they teach. Students come from all types of libraries and library positions. Bringing online continuing education to a new level since 2012. http://libraryjuiceacademy.com/

March 31, 2018

Webinar: Deborah Schmidle discusses the Certificate in Library Leadership and Management

Join us for a webinar on April 10th, in which Deborah Schmidle discusses her certificate program with Library Juice Academy, the Certificate in Library Leadership and Management. This six-course series provides a strong foundation in managerial skills, and is intended for new managers or those who would like to enhance their current knowledge base. Though these courses touch on organizational theory, the primary focus is on practical skills that can be readily adapted to individual needs.

Deborah Schmidle is currently the principal consultant at Schmidle Consulting Services. She has developed and taught numerous organizational development-related workshops and has facilitated strategic-planning processes for libraries and library organizations. She holds an M.L.I.S. from Syracuse University and a Certificate in Contemporary Leadership from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. Prior to retiring in March 2013, she was Director of Research & Learning Services at Cornell University Library (CUL).

Time: April 10th, 1pm EDT
Length: 50 minutes

No prior registration is needed to attend. Just follow this link at the time of the webinar:

February 27, 2018

Illinois Academic Librarian of the Year Award – Our sponsorship

We are proud to announce our sponsorship of the Illinois Academic Librarian of the Year Award. Established in 1985, this award recognizes an Illinois librarian who is making an outstanding statewide contribution to academic or research librarianship and to library development.

January 18, 2018

Free Exhibits Pass for ALA Midwinter in Denver

Contact us if you would like us to send you a free pass to the Exhibits Hall for ALA Midwinter in Denver, February 9th through 12th. We are going to be there, at booth 609, and we look forward to talking to you, answering your questions, and sharing ideas.

October 10, 2017

Newest classes at Library Juice Academy

Here are the newest classes that we have added to the Library Juice Academy lineup:

Introduction to Collection Development
Instructor: Robert Holley
Dates: January 8th to February 2nd, 2018

Dewey Decimal Classification
Instructor: Catelynne Sahadath
Dates: February 5th through March 2nd, 2018

Library of Congress Classification
Instructor: Catelynne Sahadath
Dates: April 2nd to 27th, 2018

Introduction to the Academic Publishing Industry
Instructor: Rolf Janke
Dates: March 5th through 30th, 2018

Foundations of Early Literacy: Using Your Knowledge to Enrich Library Experiences for Young Children and Their Families
Instructor: Saroj Ghoting
Dates: February 5th through March 2nd, 2018

Early Literacy-Enhanced Storytimes: Intentionality Is the Key
Instructor: Saroj Ghoting
Dates: March 5th through 30th, 2018

JSON-LD Fundamentals
Instructor: Robert Chavez
Dates: December 4th to 29th, 2017

August 16, 2017

New additions to the Library Juice Academy lineup

Here are some classes that we have added recently to the Library Juice Academy lineup:

Controlled Vocabulary and Taxonomy Design
Instructor: Jillian Wallis
Dates: September 5th to 30th, 2017

Introducing BIBFRAME: Moving Bibliographic Data into the Future
Instructor: Rebecca Guenther
Dates: October 2nd to 27th, 2017

Humanities Librarianship in a Digital Age
Instructor: John Russell
Dates: October 2nd to 27th, 2017

Supercharging Your Storytimes: Using Interactivity, Intentionality, and Community of Practice to Help Children Learn with Joy
Instructor: Saroj Ghoting
Dates: October 2nd to 27th, 2017

Working with Library Service Design Tools
Instructor: Joe J. Marquez
Dates: October 2nd to 27th, 2017

Introduction to Design Thinking
Instructor: Carli Spina
Dates: November 6th through December 1st, 2017

Introduction to JSON and Structured Data
Instructor: Robert Chavez
Dates: October 2nd to 27th, 2017

Exploring Librarianship through Critical Reflection
Instructor: Rick Stoddart
Dates: November 6th through December 1st, 2017

Introduction to Web Traffic Assessment Using Google Analytics
Instructor: Lisa Gayhart
Dates: January 8th to February 2nd, 2018

Web Accessibility: Techniques for Design and Testing
Instructor: Carli Spina
Dates: February 5th through March 2nd, 2018

May 27, 2017

ALA Annual Conference in Chicago

We are looking forward to the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, where we will be exhibiting as usual. The full catalog of books from Library Juice Press will be there, as well as materials related to Library Juice Academy. We look forward to meeting our customers and potential customers, answering questions, and talking about ideas. Find us in the exhibits hall at table 2636.

May 7, 2017

New: Library Juice Events Calendar

You can add this to your Google Calendar by clicking the plus-sign at the bottom. The calendar includes all events we are sponsoring or participating in: our colloquia, conferences we attend, webinars we put on, and the start of each month’s classes.

March 6, 2017

Personal Donor Challenge for EveryLibrary

We are very happy to renew our “Personal Donor Challenge” for EveryLibrary. EveryLibrary, if you don’t know them already, is a Political Action Committee that helps public, school, and college libraries win bonding, tax, and advisory referenda, ensuring stable funding and access to libraries. Last year, we helped them reach dozens of new monthly personal donors, and encouraged dozens more to renew their donations. This year, we’d like to ask you to help match our $1,000 donation by making a one-time contribution today. This means that if you donate $25, we will match that funding and turn your donation into $50 for libraries in the United States. Go here to donate: https://votelibraries.nationbuilder.com/libraryjuicechallenge

December 9, 2016

ALA Midwinter

We’re looking forward to meeting you if you’re going to be at ALA Midwinter in Atlanta in January. We will have our usual table in the Exhibits Hall. We are table number 1856. Come with your questions. We look forward to working with you.

May 12, 2016

EveryLibrary/Library Juice Academy Donor Challenge

We are renewing our EveryLibrary “Personal Donor Challenge” for 2016. It’s a challenge grant of $1,000, designed to attract 75 new $10 monthly donors to EveryLibrary. EveryLibrary is a great organization that supports public library ballot measures around the country. They depend on donations from you in order to do their work. We are very happy to offer our support, and we hope you will join us.

April 18, 2016

Interview with Shaundra Walker

Shaundra Walker is the Associate Director for Instruction and Research Services at Georgia College. She holds a B.A. in History from Spelman College, a Masters in Library and Information Studies from Clark Atlanta University and Ph.D. in educational leadership with a concentration in higher education administration from Mercer University. Her work and research in libraries and education is deeply influenced by her experience attending and working in minority serving institutions. Her research interests include the recruitment and retention of diverse librarians and organizational development within the library. Dr. Walker is teaching a class for Library Juice Academy next month, titled, Cultural Competence for the Academic Librarian. She has agreed to be interviewed about this course and her background for teaching it. [Read the interview…]

April 5, 2016

How Library Juice got started (and how it got its name)

I was just asked on Twitter how Library Juice got its name, from someone who wondered why we don’t state it in our “about” pages. I think a lot of people wonder why a serious business has what some might consider a silly-sounding name, so I think I should address that. The first part of the answer is that at the beginning, it wasn’t a serious business, but something very experimental and playful. So here is the story of how Library Juice got started…

Back in 1997, the World Wide Web was very new and very exciting. It was before social media, before blogs, before Twitter, and before Facebook (or Myspace or Friendster), but it nevertheless presented great new opportunities for networking and communicating with all sorts of people. At that time, I was a student in the MLIS program at San Jose State University (obviously before it was an online program). We were a cohort that was exploring the new potential of the Web for librarianship (although it must be said that the internet had existed for some time in text form, and librarians used Gopher and command-line databases like Dialog and Lexis-Nexis to a great extent already). SJSU was one of the more progressive programs, and a couple of years earlier had started a Listserv for the community of students, alumni, and faculty to communicate.

As library students go, I was particularly inspired by all the potential of libraries and their ethical foundations. I did a ton of outside reading, and found linkages between the curriculum and outside ideas, in philosophy and politics. I also delved into the history of progressive movements and activism in ALA, and was inspired by people who came before me, like Sanford Berman. I joined ALA SRRT and the Progressive Librarians guild in 1997, and became active in those organizations, and found my community there.

I had a burning desire to share what I was finding with the SJSU community that served as my entry point into this inspiring profession, so I began using the Listserv heavily. I reposted discussions and news items that came from other places, and wrote about political and philosophical topics that were of no interest to the majority of list members. I was posting very heavily, to the point that I was the most frequent poster on the list. I wasn’t engaging in arguments, I should add, just sharing what inspired me. But complaints began coming in about the volume of these “irrelevant” posts. At first I ignored them, but in January of 1998 I took heed and found a good solution. I announced to the list that I would be setting up my own email distribution service for people who were interested. (I got the idea from Phil Agre’s Red Rock Eater news service, which had been going for some time.) Very quickly, 80 people signed up, and I began distributing a weekly email.

With the first issue out, I saw that it needed a name. I don’t remember what other names I considered, but Library Juice seemed like it was a good description of what that distribution service was about. It was the “sweet essence” of librarianship as I saw it, with all its inspiring political and philosophical meaning. “Juice” also referred to the electricity behind the WWW as the emerging new medium for librarianship.

Library Juice, the email newsletter, ran until 2005, first as a weekly and then as a biweekly publication. After the first year it had around 2000 subscribers. Issues went out by email and were posted on a website as well. It was plain text, running to about 40K with each issue. It consisted of news items collected from other lists, email discussion threads, press releases, and short essays, often by me. This was the kind of material that would eventually be found on blogs, but before blogs, this email newsletter filled a definite need. (Back issues are all on the web, and can be found here.

Things gradually changed over the 7 or so years that I was publishing Library Juice, the email newsletter. One issue was that it became more complicated to send out an email to 2000 people, with spam blocking measures coming into use especially. With the emergence of blogs as a place where people could find press releases and commentary, the content had to change in order to provide something different. I began writing more essays and publishing essays by other people. I also began dredging up interesting articles from pre-1923 library journals, typing them up and republishing them in the newsletter. But the whole thing began to feel untenable, so in 2005 I discontinued it.

I felt that my avocation needed to continue somehow, and I wanted it to be something more than just another blog. I did turn the email newsletter into a blog (the blog you are reading now) in 2005, but wanted to do more. The possibility of publishing books had come to mind through a number of influences. One was the fact that a professor at SJSU, David Loertscher, had a side business publishing and distributing books himself, with High Willow Press. Another was reading about Ralph Shaw, a LIS professor in the 1950s, and the history of Scarecrow Press, which he started. Another was playing with the booklet product that Cafe Shops offered and seeing that laying out and printing a book was something doable. I learned about Lightning Source, which offered print-on-demand services to publishing companies. I had conversations with Tony Dierckins, a small press publisher in Duluth, MN, where I was living, and phone conversations with Robbie Franklin of McFarland Publishers. In 2006 I started working on the first four books published by Library Juice Press, which were published in December of that year.

As I got more serious, I started the company Litwin Books, LLC and spun off Library Juice Press as an imprint strictly for an audience of librarians. Although Litwin Books publishes a bit more broadly, the majority of new titles are still LJP titles, and most of our book sales are through that imprint. Between those two imprints and the smaller, more trade-publishing oriented Auslander and Fox, we’ve published 62 books all told, with about five to seven new titles coming out each year at the current rate. Publishing books was my avocation through my library career.

Fast forward to 2012… I had left my last library job to enter the PhD program in information studies at ULCA and had finished the first year of coursework. The funding situation for the following school year would be less strong than the first, and I needed to figure out a way to earn money on the side to continue my studies. I devised a plan to offer online classes for librarians’ professional development using Moodle, and began working on the project that summer. It quickly became a full time job, and I dropped out of the program before the second year.

Naming the online course business presented a dilemma. The Library Juice name was well-established, and had the advantage of an existing presence in the library community. Other names might have worked as well, but I decided to call it Library Juice Academy, to attach it to the brand that I had built, despite its sounding a bit silly in the new context. I sometimes wonder if having a silly-sounding name hurts the business, but things have been going well, so I don’t worry about it too much. I also wonder if using the same name as the publishing company was wise given that what we offer in terms of online courses, which are skills based and often technical, is so different from the books that we publish, which are political and philosophical. But again, it doesn’t seem to have hurt the business.

And that brings us to today. I’m happy to answer questions in the comments…

March 21, 2016

Library Juice Email Updates

You can get news from Library Juice Academy and Library Juice Press (and Litwin Books) via email. Here are the links to sign up:

Library Juice Academy email updates

Library Juice Press (and Litwin Books) email updates

We sometimes get requests to be put on our mailing list. Library Juice Academy hasn’t had one until now. The Library Juice Press mailing list has been going for a number of years and will continue.


December 10, 2015

Interview with Alison Macrina

Alison Macrina is a librarian, privacy rights activist, and the founder and director of the Library Freedom Project, an initiative which aims to make real the promise of intellectual freedom in libraries by teaching librarians and their local communities about surveillance threats, privacy rights and law, and privacy-protecting technology tools to help safeguard digital freedoms. Alison is teaching a class for Library Juice Academy next month, called Everything to Hide: A Toolkit for Protecting Patrons’ Digital Privacy. She has agreed to do an interview here, to tell people about the class and also to talk about the Library Freedom Project.

Hi Alison, thanks for agreeing to do this interview.

Hi Rory, thanks for having me.

I want to start by asking you to briefly describe the Library Freedom Project and a bit about how it got started.

Library Freedom Project is an initiative to bring practical privacy education and tools into libraries and the communities they serve. We teach librarians about threats to privacy from government, corporate, and criminal actors, privacy law and our responsibility to protect privacy, and privacy-enhancing technology tools that can be installed on library PCs or taught to patrons in computer classes. We work closely with the ACLU — particularly the ACLU of Massachusetts — and with The Tor Project, who are the technologists building a few of the privacy technologies we recommend.

I started Library Freedom Project after Edward Snowden began his revelations about mass surveillance in the summer of 2013. The Snowden revelations showed me that the problem was much more massive than any of us could have imagined — and this includes those of us who opposed the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act back in 2002. I was working as a library technologist at the time, and I saw libraries as the ideal places to fight back against this kind of pervasive surveillance. For one, we have a historic commitment to privacy and recognize the relationship it has to intellectual freedom and censorship. We’re often the only spaces offering free computer instruction classes, and our computer terminals are for many their only computer access. Furthermore, libraries have long prioritized service to marginalized populations — such as immigrants, Muslims, people of color, formerly incarcerated people, and people who are or have been homeless — and we know that surveillance affects these populations much more significantly than the general population. So it seemed to me an obvious way of combining our values and our commitment to our communities with a very real social need, and I began traveling around my home state of Massachusetts with staff of the Massachusetts ACLU, training librarians on surveillance resistance.

Is the training you’re giving them similar to what you’ll be teaching in your class with us?

There are overlapping topics, yes. But the class will cover a lot more ground.

So what will the class cover?

The class will start with some of the issues around surveillance and privacy, as well as threat modeling — understanding the capabilities of our adversaries and determining which particular ways we want to protect ourselves. We will cover many of the ways in which the internet is a hostile and insecure place. Then we will learn how to use the technology, getting into more advanced topics like PGP for email and OTR for chat.

Full disclosure: I’m planning to sit in on your class, because I want to learn about these things. I’m a little embarrassed to tell you, but I think I’m typical of librarians in that I am aware of privacy issues in general but tend not to do much to address the problem in my own work life. I use Google services heavily, along with Dropbox and Evernote, often for important things. I anticipate that your course will help me feel empowered and encouraged to make changes in my own work life, as well as to equip me to help others. Do you find when you do trainings that you have that effect on librarians? What are your thoughts on that?

I don’t think that’s something to be embarrassed about. You’re where most people are. And I do find that our trainings are empowering, because at the very least they give people a framework to understand these issues, and they can start making small, meaningful changes immediately. Privacy is ultimately about control, and the loss of that control can feel very discouraging. Taking back even a little of it certainly helps people combat their feelings of despair.

You’ve been doing the trainings for a little while now. What are some of the common issues that come up, that you expect to address in the class? What are some of the more problematic issues?

There are a great number of challenges — pretty much all of this information is new to the participants, the issues around privacy and surveillance are too big to know, the problems are massive, and the adversaries are powerful. Plus, most people are nontechnical (not an insult) and privacy-enhancing technologies can be more difficult than technologies that trade privacy for convenience. I will try to address those issues in the class the way that I do whenever I teach: people should know that even small changes can be significant, and that security is a process. The internet is a hostile place, and we have a lot of work to do to overcome that, but we can be successful if we take it one step at a time, adopt new strategies and get comfortable with them, and then move on to something new when we’re ready.

I just want to clarify that when you say “the internet is a hostile place,” you’re not talking about people who are assholes in the comment section; you are talking about spyware and things like that, right? In your experience, are we less than fully aware of the extent of the hostility you’re referring to?

Well, in some ways I do mean both. There are hostile individuals who want to dox feminists and marginalized people online, and they use some of the same resources that the intelligence agencies do. But mostly I mean that the internet was never designed to be secure or private, and the adversaries have so much power. People are DEFINITELY unaware of the extent of the hostility, and who can blame them? So much of it is invisible. For example, most people don’t know that Flash is ridiculously hostile, because they go on using it. Most people don’t know that leaving your software updates for days or weeks or longer is putting you in a lot of danger of exploitation. Most people — even those who followed the Snowden leaks — don’t have any idea of the capabilities of the intelligence agencies and how those are used against real people in our communities. I honestly don’t know anyone who knows the full extent of the internet’s hostility, because so much of the internet is essentially secret — proprietary, closed source technology that can’t be examined for security flaws or malicious code, and agencies that operate under incredible secrecy. Fortunately, the technology exists to protect us — but making that mainstream is its own Herculean task. That’s why libraries are the right places to teach this stuff. We have to make it mainstream.

It strikes me that we’re still under the strong influence of an idealistic cyber-utopian vision of the internet, as a technology that links the world together benevolently. What you’re saying is that people need to be made aware that the opposite is true, and that libraries should have a central role in teaching people to defend themselves in an environment that we formerly cherished for its openness. Is that right? If so, what does it mean for the library ideal of information sharing? I mean, I remember Sandy Berman quoted as saying, “I can’t have information I know would be of interest to someone and not share it.” Privacy education is about teaching people how not to share information. Is there a tension here, and do you think it reflects changing times?

The internet does need to be open, but that doesn’t mean that individuals should be exploited by its openness. I believe in transparency for governments and corporations, and privacy for individuals. There doesn’t need to be a tension, because you can define it easily across those lines. Libraries have long recognized this — providing information access has *never* meant “freely handing over patron records to the police with no warrant”; we know that privacy and intellectual freedom depend on one another. And Sandy Berman, bless him, maybe didn’t consider how much advertisers might want information about his lifestyle habits, his intellectual interests, and his associations, and maybe he didn’t consider how they’d use that information to shape public opinion and filter the results we get on the web — thus making it less open and free. He also probably didn’t imagine that those advertisers would use means totally hidden to the average user…not exactly openness or transparency. Furthermore, he probably never thought about how secretive and powerful intelligence agencies would grow in the Global War on Terror-era, to the point where they, too, have access to all that advertising data, plus anything else we share with a third party, plus a whole lot of other stuff too.

Now, simultaneously, my belief in a free and open internet means that I value free and open source software — software where the source code is shared openly and can be scrutinized for security holes or other privacy threats — thus making it the best option for people who want to defend against these adversaries. Using FOSS protects internet freedom, including privacy, and is one way we can make the internet a more democratic place.

Thank you, you’ve drawn the key distinctions that I needed.

So the Library Freedom Project trains librarians to do patron education about privacy. I wonder if you’re also interested in addressing library policies around patron privacy. What are some of the issues there? And is that within the scope of the project?

Yes, but we are a tiny organization and so we haven’t been able to make this a priority. I did help a small amount with the best practices guidelines created by the Intellectual Freedom Committee and the LITA Patron Privacy Interest Group. The guidelines address some of the major issues — that is, we’ve given 3rd party vendors so much access to patron data, we have not demanded secure transmission and storage, and so on. That’s how we wound up with the Adobe breach, something that we should be deeply ashamed of as information professionals. It seems to me that in our push to get more electronic content for our patrons, we left privacy out of our policies and contracts almost entirely, and now that’s come back to bite us.

Right after you answered that question you did a webinar, which I attended. I noticed that in your presentation you were addressing the librarians in attendance as the users of the tools, rather than explicitly as patron educators, or stewards of patrons’ privacy. It probably isn’t a meaningful difference, because either way the librarians need to know the tools they are going to be teaching. But in teaching to an audience of librarians as direct users of the tools, you assumed a degree of motivation that may not be as high as it is for political activists whom librarians may find themselves helping as patrons. Not that privacy isn’t something everyone should be interested in, but I know that in my case, if I decided to get involved with Deep Green Resistance I would start to get very concerned about privacy and would want to use Tor and PGP a lot, when in the course of my daily work I am not concerned to that degree. How do you navigate that issue in teaching and doing in-depth workshops? Are there any issues that have a different shape depending on whether the librarians are the users of the tools or the stewards and educators?

Well, when I only have 15 minutes to speak, my approach is quite different than when I have an hour or more. Also, I don’t think I was really addressing the librarians only as users of the tools — I referred back to April’s part of the presentation frequently, mentioning how tracking affects our communities, etc. I can’t really get into teaching strategies in a 15 minute presentation, but some of the resources I referred to on our site include a teacher’s guide.

I’m also not really sure what you mean about assuming a degree of motivation — people showed up to a webinar about privacy, which tells you something already about the motivation they have in learning about privacy tools. I don’t think it’s wrong to believe that they are thus motivated to, you know, do what I suggest that they do. Also, it is my experience that librarians are HIGHLY motivated to help their communities protect their privacy — whether those community members are political activists or domestic violence survivors or whatever. Librarians are service-minded people, and they tend to care very much about the ways their patrons are affected by privacy issues. April brought up a lot of those issues in the first half of the presentation — for example, how advertisers use algorithms to target people of color with predatory lending ads. If there are librarians who hear about how these issues affect our communities in serious ways, and they still don’t care to help them…I’m not really sure what to tell those librarians, frankly.

Also, our longer trainings go into much more detail about specific threats, cover a much wider range of tools, and offer teaching strategies as well. In those in-depth trainings, we cover the reasons why all people, not just political activists or people with more serious threats, have a reason to use these tools. For example, you mention PGP encryption. Maybe you’re unmotivated to use it, but if I explained to you how insecure and nonprivate email is, you might change your tune. You surely have had to send tax forms or other sensitive material over email, and that is incredibly unsafe without PGP encryption. Tor Browser also might seem like too much for you, but if you knew how much advertisers, analytics companies, A/B testers, and the like were collecting information about you and using it to filter your web content and create an information profile about you to sell you products, you again might feel differently. Those are only two examples. My assumption in teaching librarians is always that they are both users and teachers of the tools, because in order to be good teachers, they have to use the tools themselves and understand them.

That makes good sense. It will be good to see how you get into issues of patron education in more depth in the class. Patron education, and do you also get into issues of ensuring greater privacy for patrons in their use of the internet in the library? I recall you mentioning in the webinar that you have helped a couple of libraries install Tor on public computers. Is that a complicated thing, as far as getting admin to go along with it? Do you find issues with untraceable, anonymous services? I am thinking of this because I remember hearing a story about something that happened at my last place of work. There was a patron who used a public computer to send a serious threat, and the IT department tracked the computer using its IP, and then used the surveillance footage to ID him, and the police ultimately made an arrest. I know that the people in IT and in the admin office, at that place anyway, were interested in helping law enforcement, and they didn’t hesitate to violate the patron’s privacy in order to help the police. And in this case, he wasn’t just exercising his first amendment rights. I am pretty sure that at that library the administration would be reluctant to install a system that got in the way of their cooperative relationship with law enforcement. That’s not very nice to think about, but I bet it is common. Have you ever gotten pushback about things like installing Tor on a public terminal?

Yep, I will talk about teaching strategies. And yes, half the point of teaching these tools is trying to get libraries to install them on public PCs. As for the difficulty in getting admin to agree to things like that, it really depends on the library itself. Some libraries have agreed immediately — like the library in Lebanon, New Hampshire, where we installed our first Tor relay. Their board and director agreed to join the project unanimously. Others are harder to convince, but as more and more libraries start making this a norm, it won’t be as hard.

As for the situation you outline, that sort of activity is exceedingly rare, and most libraries will never have to deal with something like that. But what is incredibly common is that our communities face surveillance threats every time they use the internet, from pervasive advertising to overzealous intelligence agencies, and all the malware and criminal hacking that comes with using insecure tools. A browser that makes it easy for the police to identify the source of criminal activity also makes it easy for a domestic violence survivor to be tracked by her abuser, or for a poor person to be targeted by predatory lending schemes, or for children to be followed by malicious people, or for anyone to have their online activity tracked step by step. That is not a free internet, but an internet ruled by adversaries. That worries me much more than the rare occurrence of criminal activity on library computers. Furthermore, criminals have many options, because they are willing to break the law to achieve their ends — they can use proxies or spoof MAC addresses or find some other way of conducting their activities. Other people who need privacy don’t have those options, and we should prioritize their needs, because there are many more of them than there are criminals. It is of course a risk to give people the freedom of anonymity online, but in a democracy, we are often confronted with such decisions. As the ALA Freedom to Read Statement says: freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.

Thanks for saying all of this so well. I’ve been provoking you a little bit and I’m really glad that you’ve said all of this. I’m excited that you’re going to be teaching this class for us, and I hope you keep inspiring people to take control of their online privacy. Thanks for the interview.

Thanks Rory. I am really excited to teach the class — I’ve never had the chance to teach so many people over such a long course of time — and I’m excited to see what we can all learn from each other.