U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Surveillance in the Stacks: The FBI's Library Awareness Program

NCJ Number
H N Foerstel
Date Published
181 pages
This analysis of the FBI's Library Awareness Program focuses on the recent history of Federal library surveillance, the media and congressional responses to the program, and the efforts by professional librarians and legislators to safeguard library confidentiality.
FBI surveillance of libraries, their employees, and their users is longstanding, but activities intensified during the 1960's and 1970's. The counterintelligence activities included requests for confidential information on library users based solely on their nationalities. In response, the library profession confronted the FBI over the issue of the proper balance between First Amendment rights and national security interests and developed legislation to protect confidentiality. The analysis concludes that the FBI has espoused and exploited unfortunate Federal executive policies with respect to technology transfer and information control and that Federal policy to restrict information and monitor those who use it is anti-intellectual, xenophobic, and ultimately harmful to our national security. Chapter reference notes and index