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Refuge of a Scoundrel: The Patriot Act in Libraries

Overview

The USA Patriot Act may be the most complex and controversial federal statute in American history, argued to undercut American civil liberties in countless ways, including a dramatic extension of domestic surveillance. Providing a broad picture of how the new surveillance powers affect all Americans—citizens and non-citizens alike—the lessons of this book will be relevant to any businesses that maintain personnel records and electronic data that were considered confidential before the Patriot Act, as well as a ...

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Overview

The USA Patriot Act may be the most complex and controversial federal statute in American history, argued to undercut American civil liberties in countless ways, including a dramatic extension of domestic surveillance. Providing a broad picture of how the new surveillance powers affect all Americans—citizens and non-citizens alike—the lessons of this book will be relevant to any businesses that maintain personnel records and electronic data that were considered confidential before the Patriot Act, as well as a broad range of individuals, including librarians, bookstore owners, students, scholars, journalists, businessmen, and anyone concerned with American civil liberties.

Informative appendices include the historic University of Illinois survey of public library surveillance since September 11, 2001, and copies of some of the standard court orders that may be served to libraries and bookstores.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

This is one of the single most important resources for anyone curious about the sweeping effects on personal privacy under the Patriot Act. Although librarians and library administrators will find useful information about their responsibilities in regard to the provisions of the Patriot Act, the book is also an important resource for all individuals concerned about government surveillance techniques and concomitant responsibilities and personal freedom and privacy to use and exploit the resources of their local information sources (libraries, both academic and public, and bookstores)….This book is recommended for all libraries, small or large, public or academic; further, it is a must for any individual interested in a very careful, thoughtful, and detailed portrayal of governmental surveillance issues in information centers….Highly recommended.

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Libraries and Culture

If you only read one professional book this year, I suggest that you make it this one. From directors, reference librarians, systems librarians, to catalogers and other professional staff, this book is a must read….This book is especially important for all librarians who actively engage in protecting First Amendment activities because it thoroughly explores and chronicles governmental efforts to restrict these rights. For those who may think that things are really okay and that all of the necessary battles took past in the distant past, you will think again after reading this book!…This work is well written, carefully researched and documented, and recommended reading for every citizen, and especially librarians.

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Technical Services Quarterly

Foerstel has given a major portion of his energies over the past two decades to writing about this ongoing struggle. During this time, he has been on the front line to observe and particpate in many of these skirmishes. His latest book continues this important work and should be a source of pride for all library workers.

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College & Research Libraries

Foerstel, a librarian and author of several works on the First Amendment, has written a passionate attack on the law and describes its negative impact on library users, librarians, and libraries throughout the country….[a] book entitled ^IRefuge of a Scoundrel^R does not puport to offer a balanced perspective, and one can't fault an author for not writing the book some readers may want. The worst terrorist attack in American History has placed in stark relief the debate about maintaining national security while preserving our civil rights and liberties. Foerstel has done an admirable job in advocating the latter.

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Booklist/Professional Reading

[A]nalyzes all aspects of the USA Patriot Act directly affecting libraries and offers advice on what to do if your library is approached by law enforcement under authority of Section 215 of the act.

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C&RL News

One of the undeniable effects of the USA Patriot Act is that many libraries have begun to rethink the user records they maintain. Author Herbert N. Foerstel addresses this and other implications of the very complex and controversial legislation in ^IRefuge of a Scoundrel:The Patriot Act in Libraries.^R Beginning with the origins of library surveillance and continuing on to the specifics of the Patriot Act-including gag orders for librarians and the laW's effects on library policies on patron records-Foerstel also discusses state versions of the law, congressional oversight, and resolutions opposing the act.

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American Libraries

This is the most important book this reviewer has read this year--and the most frightening. It succinctly details the latest effort by the U.S. government to undermine the rights of Americans to free expression and privacy, with a particular focus on libraries and librarians….Foerstel's impressive documentation proves that despite the book's brevity, it covers the subject fully and deeply. Highly recommended.

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Library Journal

Library Journal
This is the most important book this reviewer has read this year-and the most frightening. It succinctly details the latest effort by the U.S. government to undermine the rights of Americans to free expression and privacy, with a particular focus on libraries and librarians. An activist in resisting the FBI's snoopers when he was head of branch libraries at the University of Maryland, Foerstel is widely published on First Amendment issues and serves on boards of both the National Security Archive and the Freedom To Read Foundation. He opens with a long first chapter on the history of modern government surveillance of libraries, basically a summary of his Surveillance in the Stacks: The FBI's Library Awareness Program. Forestel then recounts the history of the USA PATRIOT Act and discusses the implications for libraries and bookstores. In Chapter 5, "Fighting Back," he summarizes current efforts to resist or change the Patriot Act's provisions and concludes with an indictment of Attorney General Ashcroft's claim that the FBI did not use the Patriot Act to gain access to library records. Foerstel's impressive documentation (appendixes include the University of Illinois GSLIS's survey of public library surveillance, plus samples of standard court orders that may be served to libraries and bookstores) proves that despite the book's brevity, it covers the subject fully and deeply. Highly recommended.-John Berry, Library Journal Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591581390
  • Publisher: Libraries Unlimited
  • Publication date: 1/30/2004
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Table of Contents

A Recent History of Library Surveillance

The USA Patriot Act

The Patriot Act in Libraries and Bookstores

Making Things Worse: Government Actions Beyond the Patriot Act

Fighting Back: Responses to the Patriot Act

Appendix A: Public Libraries and Civil Liberties-- Questionnaire

Appendix B: U.S. Attorney Preservation Demand Letter

Appendix C: U.S. District Court ECPA Order with Schedule

Appendix D: U.S. District Court Subpoena in a Criminal Case

Appendix E: U.S. District Court Search Warrant

Selected Bibliography

Index

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