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-Built Systems

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

LBS Meeting Minutes

All minutes available in OSF, under 'Files' in the 'MeetingNotes' folder:

Vendor Built Systems

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

VBS Meetings

2018-03-16 Minutes here: View Minutes

Instruction and Outreach

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

Instruction Meetings

2018-03-26 Minutes here: View Minutes

Professional Research Ethics

This sub-group will investigate surveillance ethics in library-based research. A Google Folder of the work is available here: View Folder.

A Zotero library for existing learning-analytics or patron-data principles documents and related material is here: View Zotero

Research Ethics Meetings

2018-03-15 Minutes here: View Minutes


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

Advocacy Meetings

2019-01-22 Minutes here: Download Minutes

018-02-28 Minutes here: Download Minutes

OSF Space

Minutes and other materials from this Working Group can be found at our OSF site:

All Group Meetings

2019-10-01 Agenda and Minutes:

2018-08-08 Agenda and Minutes:

2018-06-04 Agenda and Minutes:

2018-04-18 Agenda and Minutes:

2018-01-31 Agenda and Minutes:


Our next all-group meeting will be at the 2018 DLF Forum. Join us for a Working Lunch at noon on Monday, October 15.

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!


  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: