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Drones, Information and the Right to Know: FOI Day at NYPL, April 3, 2013


Of what concern are drones to librarians and other information professionals? I mean those drones, scions of the remote-control model airplanes of a more innocent age — now grown up and more sinister and troublesome than anyone might have predicted in their youth (or might they?)

The use of drones in the area of national security, not to mention law enforcement generally, has emerged as a hot topic recently. The topic isn't new of course. Nevertheless, the discussion has begun to heat up, with concerns expressed by some of our elected officials, among others.

And what should we librarians be concerned about here? Besides the obvious concerns raised by the secrecy, and the considerable lack of information and oversight, of various governmental programs (euphemism alert!) much in the news, there are other topics raised by the use of drones as information gatherers and the public's right to access that information.

Washington, D.C., public schools go to war.,[African American schoolchildren holding model airplanes and learning types of fighter planes during their civil defense class.], Digital ID 1260420, New York Public LibraryTo hear about, and discuss, some of these issues, NYPL invites you to join us on Wednesday, April 3, 2013, at 6:00 p.m. at the Science, Industry and Business Library (SIBL) for our annual presentation in honor of Freedom of Information Day. This year's guest speaker is Malcolm Byrne, Deputy Director and Director of Research at the National Security Archive based at George Washington University's Gelman Library. The title of his talk will be "Freedom of Information in the Drone Age."

Malcolm Byrne has worked at the National Security Archive since 1986, and since 1990 has supervised the research process of identifying and obtaining documentation for the Archive's collections. He currently directs the Openness in Russia and Eastern Europe Project, and the U.S.-Iran Relations Project, both of which promote multinational and multi-archival approaches to the study of recent, controversial historical events.

His co-authored/edited books include The Chronology (Warner Books, 1987), The Iran-Contra Scandal: The Declassified History (The New Press, 1993), The 1956 Hungarian Revolution: A History in Documents (CEU Press, 2002), the award-winning Mohammad Mosaddeq and the 1953 Coup in Iran (Syracuse, 2004), A Cardboard Castle? An Inside History of the Warsaw Pact, 1955-1991 (CEU Press, 2005), and most recently, Becoming Enemies: U.S.-Iran Relations and the Iran-Iraq War, 1979-1988 (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012). He is editor of the award-winning "National Security Archive Cold War Reader" series through CEU Press and co-editor of the Archive's microfiche publication series through ProQuest. His articles and book reviews have been published in the Harvard Journal of Cold War Studies, Iranian Studies, Middle East Report, Dissent, Beirut Review, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Moscow Times, and elsewhere. He has appeared frequently on national television and radio broadcasts. He is a graduate of Tufts University and earned his M.A. in Soviet studies and economics at Johns Hopkins/SAIS.

The National Security Archive was founded in 1985 by journalists and scholars to check rising government secrecy. The Archive combines a unique range of functions: investigative journalism center, research institute on international affairs, library and archive of declassified U.S. documents ("the world's largest nongovernmental collection" according to the Los Angeles Times), leading non-profit user of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, public interest law firm, global advocate of open government, and indexer and publisher of former secrets.


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