Headshot of Mel Baldwin

Prioritizing Trans Privacy

June 3, 2024

With nearly 400 active anti-trans bills pending in state legislatures as of April 2024, it is a dangerous time in the US to be gender nonconforming, someone whose gender expression does not align with the traditional male or female binary. And for trans people of color, studies show the risk of discrimination and violence is … Continue reading Prioritizing Trans Privacy

Dulcé Sloan speaks on stage during the closing session for the 2024 Public Library Association Conference on April 5 in Columbus, Ohio.

Protect Yourself

April 8, 2024

“I have a copy of the Magic School Bus that I might have checked out in 1991 from the library in Sandy Springs,” Sloan said. “It’s somewhere in my mom’s house. If you want to go to Stone Mountain, maybe you can find it. I think I have the fine in my purse if you … Continue reading Protect Yourself

Glen J. Benedict (right), access services librarian at the University of the District of Colombia in Washington D.C. and Mel Baldwin, adult services librarian at Granville County (N.C.) Library System, present “Upholding Trans Patron Privacy & Information Access” January 21 at the 2024 LibLearnX Conference in Baltimore.

Protecting Trans Patrons

January 21, 2024

This is one of the scenarios library workers were asked to ponder during “Upholding Trans Patron Privacy and Information Access,” presented January 21 at the American Library Association’s 2024 LibLearnX conference in Baltimore. Privacy is “not just a service aspect,” said Glen J. Benedict, access services librarian at the University of the District of Colombia … Continue reading Protecting Trans Patrons

Photo of Latia Ward, Academic Insights column. Text says "Academic Insights by Latia Ward"

Accessing Justice

June 1, 2022

This scenario is an example of both a reference transaction and an access-to-justice issue. Many people do not have easy access to an attorney and will come to the library seeking legal information. Librarians are not authorized to give legal advice, but they can direct patrons to useful organizations and resources. According to Jessica Steinberg, … Continue reading Accessing Justice

The Connecticut Four. From left: Barbara Bailey, Peter Chase, George Christian, and Janet Nocek

Defenders of Patron Privacy

September 1, 2021

With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), they challenged the climate of surveillance and government overreach that followed the September 11 attacks, showing the nation that librarians would stand by the rights of patrons and civil liberties. Here, the four share their memories of the experience and its resonance today with American … Continue reading Defenders of Patron Privacy

Former school librarian Helen Adams recalled the rise in surveillance technology in schools after the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School.

No Minor Concern

June 25, 2019

“Ensuring library users’ confidentiality frees them from fear of retaliation or intimidation as a result of reading a book, visiting a website, or consulting other library resources,” said Candice Mack, senior YA services librarian with the Los Angeles Public Library system. “This is regardless of age.” Deborah Caldwell-Stone, interim director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual … Continue reading No Minor Concern

Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one. --Neil Gaiman

Ten Reasons Libraries Are Still Better Than the Internet

December 19, 2017

Sixteen years ago, American Libraries published Mark Y. Herring’s essay “Ten Reasons Why the Internet Is No Substitute for a Library” (April 2001). Technology has improved exponentially since then—social media didn’t even exist yet. But even the smartest phone’s intelligence is limited by paywalls, Twitter trolls, fake news, and other hazards of online life. Here … Continue reading Ten Reasons Libraries Are Still Better Than the Internet

Connecticut Four Reunite Against FBI Overreach

September 28, 2016

In 2005, an original section of the Patriot Act allowed the FBI to compel anyone they presented with a National Security Letter (NSL) to hand over detailed personal information, including library borrowing and internet search records, about any individual being investigated. The law also allowed the FBI to accompany NSLs with gag orders forbidding their recipients from disclosing that … Continue reading Connecticut Four Reunite Against FBI Overreach