New Privacy Resources Available from NYC Digital Safety

by Davis Erin Anderson, Program Manager, METRO Library Council

Many New York City residents use digital technology nearly every waking hour of their day. From using email at work to browsing social media on the subway to streaming television shows at home, we are consistently delivering a wealth of data about who we are and what we do online to Internet Service providers and myriad online entities. This information can be utilized to influence our behavior, and, more pressingly, can be used against us in the event of, for example, a successful phishing attempt or a data breach.

To help mitigate these issues, more than 1,000 library staff members across New York City’s five boroughs have now been trained in digital privacy and security. And we won’t stop there.

NYC Digital Safety is a partnership between Brooklyn Public Library, The New York Public Library, Queens Library, the NYC Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer, and METRO Library Council. Through NYC Digital Safety: Privacy & Security, NYC’s three library systems have published online resources specific to data privacy in the library environment.

The project achieved a milestone last month with the launch of nycdigitalsafety.org, the online home for seven online modules and training materials for an in-person training specifically for library staff. Built to be repurposed by library systems around the country, the online modules cover the following topics:

These modules include a quiz and a list of resources. They can be used as stand-alone guides to data privacy and security in the library. For those who choose to include an in-person element, materials with which to conduct a three-hour workshop are included at https://nycdigitalsafety.org/training/.

Having exceeded our goal of training one library staff member at every branch, NYC’s three systems celebrated with NYC’s first Library Privacy Week. We hosted a combined thirty events from October 15th through the 22nd. The week ended with a panel preview of an upcoming exhibit, wherein nine library branches across New York City hosted a resident artist for the Privacy in Public exhibit. Launching on December 15, this exhibit invited library patrons to consider what it means to offer up so much of our personal information in exchange for the convenience of online services.

We hope you’ll take a moment to peruse the resources now available to you via nycdigitalsafety.org. Please share any comments or feedback with us at deanderson [at] metro [dot] org.


Davis Erin Anderson is Program Manager at Metropolitan New York Library Council, where she leads projects, plans events, and teaches workshops that focus on technology, culture, and libraries.Davis has been a Mozilla Web Literacy Leader, an SLA Rising Star, and a Library Journal Mover Shaker. Prior to joining the library field, she performed with orchestras and taught music to teenagers and young adults.

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