The Distance Between Our Values and Actions: We Can’t Be Passive When it Comes to Privacy


  • Meredith Farkas Portland Community College



library patron privacy, library user confidentiality, Connecticut librarians Patriot Act, library third-party trackers, library database privacy, learning analytics privacy, library analytics privacy, patron consent private information


In September 2021, the WOC+Lib collective published a searing "Statement Against White Appropriation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color's Labor (BIPOC)," decrying the exploitation and abuse of BIPOC library workers. One of the many hypocrisies the group took issue with was:

the proliferation of anti-racism statements put out by information institutions and organizations in 2020 without also taking on actions addressing the lack of Black, Indigenous, or People of Color workers or how the BIPOC within those very libraries and organizations have been ostracised and disrespected for years prior to 2020, while allowing the mistreatment to continue. (WOC+Lib, 2021)

In the midst of the international uprisings for racial justice following the murder of George Floyd, many libraries put out antiracist statements affirming their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Yet in a recent survey of library directors, only 31 percent of academic library directors agreed that their “library has well-developed equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility strategies for employees" (Frederick and Wolff-Eisenberg, 2021, p. 10). The lack of progress made in these areas suggests that while diversity may be a library value, dismantling systems of oppression to improve DEI is not a top priority at most institutions.


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Author Biography

Meredith Farkas, Portland Community College

Meredith Farkas (she/her) is a Faculty Librarian at Portland Community College, a proud member of the Library Freedom Project, a perpetual beginner, and a recovering workaholic. From 2007–2021, she wrote the "In Practice" column for American Libraries and has also authored the blog Information Wants to be Free since 2004. Meredith was honored in 2009 with the LITA/Library Hi Tech award for Outstanding Communication in Library and Information Technology, and in 2014 with the Association of College and Research Libraries Instruction Section Innovation Award. She has held many different leadership and management roles in her career, but her favorite is working with students and faculty as an instruction librarian.




How to Cite

Farkas, M. (2022). The Distance Between Our Values and Actions: We Can’t Be Passive When it Comes to Privacy. OLA Quarterly, 27(1), 43–49.