It’s now been just over two months since the official announcement naming the Library Freedom Project as one of the winners of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight News Challenge on Libraries. With Knight support, we’re scaling the Library Freedom Project in a huge way – taking our privacy training to libraries across the country – and the attention we received from the January announcement has helped us hit the ground running.
The Knight News Challenge on Libraries funded projects leveraging libraries as a platform to build more knowledgeable communities. The Library Freedom Project does this by educating communities about privacy and by training librarians on surveillance threats, privacy rights, and privacy-protecting technology tools.
Our original plan was to use the Knight support to scale the work we’ve done in New England to libraries across the country, and immediately after the Knight announcement, we were flooded with demand from libraries throughout the US and Canada – we’re currently organizing visits to Ohio, California, Indiana, North Carolina, Pennsylania, Idaho, and more.
But even in this short time since the News Challenge win went public, our work has scaled in ways we hadn’t imagined. After the Knight announcement, I was contacted by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) to speak at a special event in London: Libraries and Privacy in the Digital Age. I joined other speakers from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, and Article 19 to talk about the global implications of surveillance and how librarians can fight back. This event brought the Library Freedom Project’s work to the attention of a number of international librarians, so we’ve started to think about how we could take on a more international focus.
Right before heading to London, I attended Circumvention Tech Festival in Valencia, Spain, joining the Tor Project for their winter development meeting. Getting the chance to spend a few days with the technologists who build the tools the Library Freedom Project teaches was invaluable – I learned a great deal and made plans for even more ways our two communities can support each other in the fight for digital privacy.
We continue to work with the EFF and with ACLU affiliates in each state, and the ACLU of Massachusetts remains our core institutional partner. Our schedule is packed, both with our typical privacy trainings and with special events. Two weeks ago I spoke at Libreplanet, a conference for free software developers and advocates, telling them about the Library Freedom Project and the important role that technologists play the success of our work. Next week, Kade Crockford of the ACLU of Massachusetts and I will teach privacy workshops at CUNY, Bard College, and the New Jersey Library Association’s annual conference. In May, the Library Freedom Project will present the closing talk at the 2015 Lacuny Institute, whose theme this year is “Privacy and Surveillance: Library Advocacy for the 21st Century”. In June, we’re hosting our own special event after the ALA Annual Conference: Digital Rights in Libraries, where we’re fortunate to be joined by speakers and trainers from Creative Commons, Internet Archive, Hack the Hood, EFF, Mozilla, Freedom of the Press Foundation, and more.
Privacy training is an obvious need in our libraries and in our communities as a whole, and the News Challenge win recognizes the importance of this effort. The Library Freedom Project is taking seriously the work we have cut out for us. Thank you, Knight Foundation, for recognizing that we’re capable of it.
Finally, we are deeply indebted to our amazing community of supporters. We’d like to say thanks by sending you one of our new Library Freedom Project laptop stickers, pictured below. Please email us to snag one of your own!