Library Freedom Project

Library Freedom Project is radically rethinking the library professional organization by creating a network of values-driven librarian-activists working together to build information democracy. 

What does Library Freedom Project do?

Libraries are essential for democracy.

We provide librarians and their communities the necessary skills to turn our ideals into action, focused on issues like privacy, intellectual freedom, and information democracy.

Our LFP privacy advocates work collaboratively to drive policy, teach stakeholders, and enact change. Our work is informed by a social justice, feminist, anti-racist approach. We believe in the combined power of long-term collective organizing and short-term, immediate harm reduction.

Core Values

LFP is a community of practice that puts people first. Our network is based in trust and care; we want everyone to feel safe showing up as their whole selves. LFP is open to library workers at all levels because people know more than they think, and can be effective advocates based on their own lived experiences. Library workers are what make libraries function because labor creates all value. We strive for LFP to reflect the diversity of our library communities, and we want every person in LFP to think of themselves as a leader.

Our work is rooted in an ethic of care and humanity. Our training is grounded in a practice of harm reduction. We strive to be trauma-informed in all our work. We genuinely care about one another and the people we serve. We pride ourselves on being welcoming, inclusive, accessible, and accountable. We prioritize principles of universal design in our trainings, resources, and in-person events.

We recognize the injustice and inequity in our world, and how those oppressive systems show up in libraries. To us, solidarity means standing with the people most marginalized by our current political system. We create programming and resources that can empower people to resist oppression and better their lives through collective action. We believe that people are the experts of their own lives, and we acknowledge the individuality and humanity of all the people we serve.

Libraries continue to be the keystone of intellectual equity. LFP recognizes that the existence of libraries is inherently political and takes a progressive approach to protect their integrity. Challenging the expectations of traditional trade groups, we follow our own justice-based ideals of the role of librarians and train them to be anti-neutral champions of intellectual freedom.

We believe that an abundant future is possible if we fight for it. In order to create this future, we need empowered communities ready to commit to collective action. We strive to bring tools and strategies to our communities that can help them organize. We operate through a deliberately anti-racist, anti-capitalist, anti-surveillance lens as we advocate for information democracy.

It was the summer of 2013 when Edward Snowden’s revelations were published detailing US government mass surveillance. Around the same time, the nascent Black Lives Matter movement began after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, and quickly began to sound the alarm against both interpersonal and police-involved racist violence against Black people.

During this time, Alison Macrina was working as a librarian at a public library. Already a lifelong activist for political and social justice causes, she began to make connections between what Snowden revealed about government spying, and what Black Lives Matter activists were illuminating about racist targeting. Alison had been motivated to become a librarian in part because of the librarian-activists who had years before opposed the USAPATRIOT Act at a time when public dissent was marginalized. These librarians had rightly recognized that broad surveillance powers were not only undemocratic and unconstitutional, but would serve to further target already vulnerable members of our society, such as people of color, Muslims, and immigrants. What Snowden had revealed brought forth the worst of what these librarians anticipated could come from the Patriot Act. Alison wanted to continue this legacy of radical librarianship, connect with other values-driven librarians, and bring practical information to the public about how to protect privacy, intellectual freedom, and information access.

Alison began by teaching classes and installing privacy software on patron computers at her public library. She connected with Kade Crockford and Jessie Rossman of the ACLU of Massachusetts, and together they began offering trainings for other librarians in the region. There was a high amount of interest in this work, and it quickly snowballed. Alison began making connections with more people and organizations in the privacy space, including April Glaser and others at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, as well as technologists at the Tor Project. Media attention for Alison’s work soon followed, and at the end of 2014, she was awarded funding from the Knight Foundation’s News Challenge for Libraries to take her work across the United States. Thus, Library Freedom Project was born.

Since then, Library Freedom Project has trained thousands of library workers on the practical application of our values using a social justice lens. At LFP we refer to these values as “information democracy” – meaning that people should be able to access the information that they need safely and freely without barriers. Meeting library workers around the country, Alison realized that there was an opportunity to build deeper community around this work. In 2018, she launched Library Freedom Institute, an intensive training program for library workers to gain skills on protecting and promoting information democracy. Participants in Library Freedom Institute would learn together in a supportive environment, and then invited to continue building together as part of the LFP community. Alison ran different versions of LFI from 2018 through 2022.

Today that LFP community is thriving, with nearly 150 members across the US, and some in Canada and Mexico. Our community collaborates together on resources, programming, policy and more. We host meetings and support one another in making this work happen in our library communities. We continue to build through our newly launched LFP regional hubs – spaces for library workers to connect, learn, have generative conversations, and help to build the library world that we all want. 

Learn more on our website about selected media coverage of our work, the generous support of our sponsors, and how to get involved in LFP.

Ayoola White
LFP Member

“I value how the Library Freedom Project takes threats to privacy seriously while also taking a harm reduction approach to the topic. This is one of few library professional organizations I know of that rejects the notion of neutrality in favor of liberation and working together to keep one another safe.”