“Foerstel, himself one of the leaders in the effort to expose the FBI's notorious `spies in the stacks' program, writes as a partisan of privacy rights with a well-earned distrust of the FBI's efforts to excuse itself from observing those rights. In fairness to the other side, however, he also gives full play to the arguments for national security and for the prevention of the flow of `sensitive' information into foreign hands. In this extensively documented and thoroughly researched tale, he offers many stories of the courage and fortitude of librarians opposed to this program, from the jailing of Zoia Horn to the eloquent indignation of Columbia University's Paula Kaufman and the tenacious probing of Jim Schmidt and the American Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Committee. Less happy is his picture of the heavily politicized National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) and others who have acquiesced to the spying. The chapters on the political ramifications of the program and the legal context of library confidentiality are also valuable--although it is possible to argue with some of Foerstal's conclusions. But this illuminating, cautionary work is bound to remain an authoritative source on a vitally important subject.”–Library Journal
“The major strength of this work is that it raises some fundamental and basic questions pertaining to the relationship of citizens and the state. . . . This book is intended for scholars and professionals who are concerned with intrusive governmental activities and civil libertarians who are concerned about the erosions of fundamental rights to American citizens. All librarians in the United States should be interested in this book because the Library Awareness Program could, potentially, directly affect them and their libraries as well as their patrons.”–Perspectives on Political Science
“In an account of librarianship's own most recent Watergate, as it were, Foerstel documents and analyzes FBI counterintelligence activities in libraries. Under its Library Awareness Program, the bureau attempted to recruit librarians as 'assets' who would inform it when 'foreign' users consulted sensitive--although unclassified--technical information in their libraries. The G-men were amazed when librarians and the ALA protested this encumbrance of free access. Previous federal surveillance of library users, the development of the culpable program, congressional testimony, and specific cases of the FBI's approaching individual librarians all figure in Foerstel's study, which also includes exceptionally interesting in-depth discussion of the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science's compliance with the program and of the Special Library Association's stance on the program. Although very academic (e.g., one chapter is entitled 'The FBI in Libraries: Analysis, Survey, and Prognosis') and exhaustively documented, the book can be compelling and even, melodramatic as it may sound, frightening reading. It's also fun to browse the index for the names of professional acquaintances.”–Booklist
About the Author
HERBERT N. FOERSTEL is Head of Branch Libraries at the University of Maryland, College Park, and one of the leading experts on library surveillance.