VPNs in Libraries

Hey y’all. We just wrapped up that awesome facial recognition lecture, and I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. Truly illuminating. But I want to talk about a slightly different project that also has a place in my heart. I was part of a team that proposed a grant to the IMLS on the topic of libraries and VPNs. We’re looking for test libraries who may want to be involved with round 1 of the roll out once the software is ready to roll out. If you, your director, or your sysadmin might be interested, or you just need more info, please let me know. I’d love to work with you and your libraries on this.

Here is the link to the grant: https://www.imls.gov/grants/awarded/lg-36-19-0071-19


I met Chuck (from Lebanon Public Libraries) back in March, and he was telling me about this project, I’m so glad to hear you got your funding!


Chuck is amazing and this project wouldn’t have happened without him. I’m so excited to see where it goes and even more excited atm because we actually got funded.

We’re still looking for a few alpha testers for the project (after the software has been built) and I think this would be a great opportunity for libraries to get themselves on the map with some awesome press. I’m currently working on a draft on how to propose it to directors and trustees/boards, so hopefully that will help streamline things.

Please please please ask questions if you have them!


Hope to talk with you and Chuck soon. Expecting great impact from this project.


We’re so excited. I just want to get this group involved too, I think there is a lot of room here to grow and I want everyone to get every opportunity to be as progressive in their libraries as possible!


I wanted to boost the signal on this and see if anyone might be interested in working as a alpha site for this idea. I have a few, but more is good just in case anyone has to back out. Please let me know if you need more info!

edit I want to reiterate I think this is a massively cool project and could go a long way to show your commitment to protecting patron privacy. I really think LFI members would be a great group to get involved and while I know we are all busy I think having this group on board would go a long way to showing a lot of value in the project. I have a meeting on the topic next Monday and I’ll be able to bring back more information, but if you have questions now I’ll do my best to answer them or get back to you asap with more information.

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Unfortunately, my system is far too huge to sign on to the alpha testing for this, but I just wanted to say that i think this is an amazing project & I hope you find some great libraries to test with. I would have never thought of something like this for a grant, so kudos to you & the team for coming up with the idea & extra kudos to James & IMLS for funding important projects like these!


Hi TJ,

I had asked my director about this with no concrete answer given, but I will press them on this today.

One question I have about the implementation is – are you envisioning this being an opt-in service where patrons could either use the VPN service or not use it if they don’t want? The reason I ask is that I notice that more and more websites are preventing access to VPNs – like my banking website won’t let me access it with my VPN on. The errors that these websites usually return do not indicate that the issue is related to the VPN – I get a “password incorrect” response from my banking website.

Awesome! As far as I know, yes, they will be able to opt out, just for those reasons you mentioned. I’ll hopefully have more information after our next meeting, but I’d love to get you on board and here your concerns. That would go a long way in helping us tailor the technology to libraries needs.

Also, stupid banks.

I got a tentative yes from the director! Let me know what the next steps are or if you need anything else from me/us. Feel free to email me at wmarvell@tclib.org


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Let me check with my regional office staff and see how they feel. The IT librarian usually let me test out new tech before the other libraries, so I might be able to talk him into this. Any particularly persuasive arguments I should use (other than the obvious privacy elements)?

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I always think of using our library’s VPN as the way that I can access files on our shared drive when I’m away from the office. The privacy issue is just an added bonus!

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Hey all, I’m looking for more beta testers for this technology if your library is interested please let me know, and if not, I’d love it if you could spread the word to other libraries who might be. I don’t use social media apart from Twitter so if anyone can spread the word beyond have people email me at professionalirritant@riseup.net

Sorry to bump the topic but we’re preparing for round 2 and want as many libraries on board as possible!