Technologies of Surveillance

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The Technologies of Surveillance Working Group was formed at the end of the 2017 DLF Forum by Yasmeen Shorish and Shea Swauger. This group came out of the Surveyance or Surveillance? Working Lunch at the Forum and is dedicated to interrogating our relationships with data collection technologies. Libraries are increasingly investing in systems that can track and correlate user behavior.

This group will interrogate the methods and ethical implications of these technologies and seeks to establish guidelines for how to operationalize interrogation of technology, wherever we encounter it in our profession. To that end, we expanded our initial idea of three sub-groups to five, based on community feedback. Our investigative areas are:

Library-led Systems

This sub-group investigates the systems that libraries create, such as open source repositories.

Vendor Supplied Systems

This sub-group investigates the systems that libraries purchase or lease, such as an ILS or database.

Instruction and Outreach

This sub-group investigates effective outreach and instruction strategies for our communities on topic related to data collection and privacy.

Professional Research Ethics

This sub-group will investigate surveillance ethics in library-based research.


This sub-group will investigate how to resist administrative pressure to surrender library data to campus and/or engage in privacy-damaging assessment practices.


20180228 Minutes here: Download Minutes

Next Call: April 11, 2018.

Join the call: Optional dial-in number: 866-287-9301. Alternate Number: 202-750-4186. No PIN needed. International Access Numbers:

Get Involved

Please join our DLF-administered listserv. We also have a Slack space set up, with channels for each of the subgroups. Email Shea Swauger to gain access to the Slack space.

Data collection behavior extends far beyond the systems that libraries have direct connections with. One way to help track the news stories and investigative work done in this area is through Twitter, using the hashtag #panoptitech. Follow this tag and add any relevant stories that you come across!

All Group Meetings

2018-01-31 Agenda:


Our next all-group meeting is scheduled for April 18, 2018 at 2pm Eastern. Join here:


  1. The Library Freedom Project has some slide decks to start:
  2. NISO Consensus Principles
  3. ALA Privacy checklists and best practices:
  4. Michigan’s courses/events on privacy: and
  5. Cornell’s resources:
  6. Prototyping Jason Griffey’s Measure the Future, which doesn’t capture identifying information (and he’s been vocal about privacy within libraries), but how to navigate communicate the usage of a tool like this.
  7. Karen Coyle’s privacy audit: