Surveillance in the Stacks: The FBI's Library Awareness Program
As part of its Library Awareness Program, the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted numerous counterintelligence activities in libraries, ... Show synopsis As part of its Library Awareness Program, the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted numerous counterintelligence activities in libraries, including requesting confidential information on library users based solely on their nationality. Written by a librarian whose own institution was the target of such intrusions and who later helped to develop confidentiality legislation, Surveillance in the Stacks is the first book to document and analyze the FBI's wide-ranging surveillance of libraries. Relying heavily on previously classified FBI reports, the book traces the recent history of federal library surveillance, documents the media and congressional response to the Library Awareness Program, and discusses the professional and legislative moves that have been taken to safeguard library confidentiality. Following a brief introduction, Herbert N. Foerstel begins his study with an overview of library surveillance, its background and significant examples, and a detailed analysis of the Library Awareness Program. Chapter 2 looks at the FBI's documented activities in libraries, including their visits to Columbia University, New York University, the University of Maryland, and the New York Public Library. The role of librarians in surveillance is addressed in chapter 3, which includes discussions of librarians as information filters, as assets, and as potential KGB agents. The final chapter on law and library surveillance, explores the issues of free speech and inquiry, state confidentiality laws, and attempts at legal restraints. The book also surveys the confrontation between the FBI and the library profession and relates the content of numerous disturbing FBI documents, including one thatreveals an extended investigation of librarians who criticized the Bureau's program. This timely work will be an essential addition to the collections of both public and academic libraries, as well as a useful resource for courses in special libraries, library ethics, and first amendment issues.
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