Penn State librarians featured on podcast for authoring book on privacy literacy

Practicing Privacy Literacy book cover art and head shots

Sarah Hartman-Caverly and Alexandria Chisholm

Credit: Penn State

READING, Pa. — Penn State Berks Thun Library reference and instruction librarians Sarah Hartman-Caverly and Alexandria Chisholm were interviewed on New Books Network's Library Science podcast to discuss their 2023 book, "Privacy Literacy Practices in Academic Libraries: Theories, Methods, and Cases."

Podcast host and interviewer Michael LaMagna said the book “argues that academic libraries and librarians should be taking a leadership role in advocating for and providing educational opportunities around privacy literacy” and that Hartman-Caverly and Chisholm “provide the information and tools necessary to assume these roles.”

“Having Sarah Hartman-Caverly and Alexandria Chisholm join the podcast to discuss their new book, 'Practicing Privacy Literacy in Academic Libraries: Theories, Methods, and Cases,' was a way to continue the important discourse around the important topic of privacy literacy, as their work offers a considerable contribution and adds to the existing literature on this topic in the field of library and information science,” said LaMagna, adding that the mission of the New Books in Library Science podcast is public education.

The episode explores the co-editor and contributing authors’ theories of privacy and digital wellness along with their privacy literacy toolkit and open-licensed privacy literacy curriculum, as well as contemporary approaches to safeguarding patron data in libraries and the limitations of FERPA, the range of library instruction modalities for delivering privacy literacy learning experiences, students’ perceptions of institutional use of their data in learning analytics systems, and approaches to practitioner-facing continuing education in privacy literacy.

Hartman-Caverly emphasized that her and Chisholm’s approach to privacy “is about respect for persons — not about protection of data, and not about configuring technology,” explaining that this approach is more welcoming to practitioners as well as learners. “If you care about people, you, too, can be a privacy literacy educator.”

LaMagna highlighted that a strength of the volume is providing a range of methods and approaches for integrating privacy literacy into academic library instruction programming from a diverse group of contributing authors. “I’m glad that you’re bringing in the theory and then talking about it in practice, how a practicing academic librarian could integrate this,” he said. Chisholm invited listeners to make use of the open educational resources (OERs) that the co-editors have freely licensed for reuse and adaptation that are available on their workshop series homepage, their Digital Shred Privacy Literacy Toolkit, and in the Association of College and Research Libraries’ ACRL Framework for Information Literacy Sandbox.

Hartman-Caverly said their goal is always to reach other educators and demonstrate that privacy is a worthy topic of teaching and learning.

“Privacy is something that students care about and are curious about in their personal lives, and has natural connections to almost every academic discipline,” she said. “Privacy is about respecting people, not just about protecting data. By placing people back at the center of our privacy literacy work, we’re prioritizing ethics and a full consideration of actual and potential privacy harms, which opens up new avenues for privacy learning experiences, including sessions focused on intimate privacy and the intellectual privacy implications of generative AI like ChatGPT.”

Chisholm added, "We're also highly committed to supporting library workers in their journey to confident professional self-efficacy in what is an admittedly intimidating area of instruction. Privacy literacy often brings to mind emerging technologies and constantly evolving societal and legal concerns; that moving target, paired with an expectation for technological expertise, can be daunting to even the most seasoned library educator. The intent of this book is to broaden library folks' understanding of privacy literacy and to inspire creativity and action in their local contexts."

Chisholm also explained that the collaborators are currently developing a practitioner-facing "Privacy Literacy Field Guide" with an anticipated release in 2025.

Libraries are a natural venue for privacy literacy teaching and learning, which is not comprehensively supported by other campus units, according to prior research by Hartman-Caverly and Chisholm.

“Libraries have always focused on how individuals engage with the broader information ecosystem, and privacy has long been a professional ethic of librarianship. Intellectual privacy, or the ability to seek, consume, and consider information free from interference or surveillance, is necessary to learning, to scholarship, and to exercising freedom of expression,” said Hartman-Caverly. “Privacy literacy education is a natural extension of libraries’ commitment to privacy and intellectual freedom and is something libraries are called to provide in the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights.”

"Privacy literacy offers a creative new pathway for critical and ethical explorations of our information ecosystem, including the algorithmic interventions and manipulations we experience in our everyday lives,” said Chisholm. “Personalization, attention engineering, and persuasive design are just a few examples of how our media consumption and online experiences have been significantly transformed in the last decade."

Chisholm said there are endless connections between privacy literacy and information, digital, and media literacies which library educators already address and embrace in their instruction. Her algorithmic literacy workshop puts a new spin on typical fake news and media literacy sessions.

Published by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) in September 2023, "Privacy Literacy Practices in Academic Libraries" is the first book-length volume to highlight the emergence of privacy literacy work in academic library instruction and other specializations, including patron services, digital collections, disciplinary research collaborations, policy development, and institutional research with learning analytics and student data. Co-editors Hartman-Caverly and Chisholm were previously recognized for their contributions to the field of privacy literacy in the 2021 ACRL Environmental Scan, and as recipients of the 2021 ACRL Instruction Section Innovation Award for their Digital Shred Privacy Literacy Initiative. The Digital Shred Privacy Literacy Initiative comprises a practitioner-facing privacy literacy toolkit, an open-licensed privacy literacy curriculum, and associated scholarship to support other educators in delivering privacy literacy learning experiences.

The New Books Network features author-interview podcasts highlighting academic publications in more than one hundred subjects, disciplines, and genres. The Network sees 1.5 million episode downloads and reaches approximately a half million listeners each month. The episode, "Practicing Privacy in Academic Libraries: Theories, Methods, and Cases," is available in the Library Science, Education, Higher Education, Media, and Scholarly Communication channels of the New Books Network podcast wherever podcasts are streamed.