Libraries for Privacy

We are working to support libraries and their users in protecting their digital privacy and security with workshops, surveys, and toolkits.

Libraries offer a vital service to their communities, a space for all, irrespective of race, sexual orientation, gender, income or belief, to express themselves, communicate and discover new and challenging voices.

They are also spaces that enable many to access the Internet to participate in the digital debate that frames communication, service provision and civil discussions. But in a world of increasingly pervasive surveillance powers, these services may come at a cost; a diminished private space within which people can express themselves free from the threat of coercion or suspicion.

Supported by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and working with the Library Freedom Project, the Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals in Scotland (CILIPS) and the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) we are working to support libraries and their users in protecting their digital privacy and security.


Held in libraries across Scotland, this series of workshops highlights the changing legal landscape regarding surveillance, outlines challenges for public, academic and specialist libraries and offers practical guidance as to tools, approaches and behaviours that libraries can undertake to protect digital privacy and strengthen their security. So far we have held sessions at Glasgow Women’s Library and the Central Library in Edinburgh.

Here are the upcoming sessions. Every session is free of charge and offers hands-on support for exploring Privacy-Enhancing Technologies (PET) within the context of libraries in Scotland

22nd March: AK Bell Library, Perth –
18th April: Stromness Library, Orkney
19th April: Kirkwall Library & Archive, Orkney

Please keep checking this page for updates regarding booking information and further sessions when they are confirmed.

If you work in a library in Scotland and are interested in hosting a workshop please get in touch, we would love to work with you to support your team.

Please email Nik Williams, the Scottish PEN Policy Advisor on nik.williams [at] to discuss this project in more detail.


We are currently designing a toolkit that will further support libraries in Scotland to build capacity to protect the online privacy and security of both their institution and users. It offers a summary of surveillance legislation, step-by-step guides for the installation of PET and ways libraries can incorporate new technologies within their digital literacy classes and improve their own digital infrastructure.

We are keen for this to be built by library staff to ensure it reflects the expertise of the field. We are looking for individuals with experience of the library sector to participate in focus groups and feedback sessions to strengthen this resource.

If you are interested in taking part, please email Nik Williams on nik.williams [at]

Scottish PEN are working with: