Monday, November 23, 2009

Christmas Book Drive!

The CLA Student Chapter at the University of Alberta is currently running it's annual Christmas book drive.

Last year the organization donated 251 books to local community partners and hopefully we can help them exceed that number this year. With the economic trouble the past year has brought, it is as important as ever to try and support our community.
They are collecting new and used books of all types to give to a number of local charitable organizations and literacy groups.
They are especially looking for new books for children (up to 12 years), paperbacks, aboriginal titles, popular fiction and current bestsellers. The CLA Student Chapter will be distributing the donated books to various groups including the GELA Community Bookshelf, Santas Anonymous and Prison Sub-Committees

Books and cash donations can be dropped off in the blue 'gift boxes' and collection jars in the SLIS office or the student lounge on campus. Cash donations will be used to purchase new books for Santas Anonymous.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Jessamine County Public Library Staff Fired Over Censorship of Graphic Novel

BoingBoing is reporting that two library workers at a Lexington Kentucky public library Jessamine County Public Library have been fired in response to an attempt to keep a copy of Alan Moore's graphic novel "The League of Extraordinary Gentleman: The Black Dossier" out of circulation. The two employees collaborated to keep the book unavailable by keeping it checked out for over a year and then removing the hold when an 11 year old requested the book. Both employees have been fired and the library management are not commenting on the situation, referring to it as a personal matter.

Another article from THE BEAT has a slightly longer discussion about censorship in public libraries and where materials like Moore's graphic novel should be shelved.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Obama Discusses Internet Censorship at Shanghai Town Hall

President Obama is currently visiting China and held a town hall meeting with students in Shanghai where he took the following question:

“Should we be able to use Twitter freely?”

Obama's answer was diplomatic, candid and sets an excellent tone for discussion of this issue. The meeting was live broadcast in China and through the White House website with simultaneous translation. The questions and Obama's responses remained up and accessible hours after the event:

“I should be honest, as president of the United States, there are times where I wish information didn’t flow so freely because then I wouldn’t have to listen to people criticizing me all the time,” he said. But, he added, “because in the United States, information is free, and I have a lot of critics in the United States who can say all kinds of things about me, I actually think that that makes our democracy stronger and it makes me a better leader because it forces me to hear opinions that I don’t want to hear.”

Read the entire NYT article here

Sunday, November 15, 2009

IBBY Children in Crisis

The Internation Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) has a wonderful project focusing on the power of bibliotherapy to help children who have been traumatized by war, civil disruption or natural disasters. The IBBY Children in Crisis Fund supports the theraputic use of storytelling and books through bibliotherapy as well as creating or rebuilding collections tailored to the community they are supporting. The program aims to provide immediate emergency help as well as long term.
Current projects are talking place in Gaza, Columbia, Lebanon and Afghanistan.

IBBY has a Canadian chapter and they accept donations toward these humanitarian projects through the main IBBY website (in US dollars, Swiss Francs or Euros).

Monday, November 09, 2009

Help out the Edmonton Food Bank

The Edmonton Food Bank Needs Your Help!

Supplies at the Edmonton Food Bank are lower than they have ever been in the last 8 years and the organization is facing other challenges, including the cancellation of the Bright Nights Festival - a major source of funding and food - so please consider helping out this amazing resource for Edmontonians in need.

You can buy a $5.00 package for the Food Bank at your local grocery store - most stores offer this option or something like it - and please ask people you know to do the same.

Alternately, you can organize a food or fund drive at work or school!

The Food Bank does have a list of most needed items here: link.

Thanks for your support in keeping this valuable agency alive and thriving!


Sunday, November 08, 2009

Library 101!

I have been meaning to post about this multimedia project for awhile, please visit Library101 to check out a wonderful collection of library resources and essays (including a great cheesy video made in collaboration by many librarians).
There are essays from various library supporters (including President Obama!), it is largely US focused but is a fun look at current library trends.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Scandalous YA Reading Experiences -

If you live in Edmonton, think about picking up a copy of this week's SEE magazine. The cover story is a great editorial written by six women about reading sexually explicit or scandalous books in their teens. Their stories ring true and while many of them are funny, it is also troubling to see their reading choices being limited by adults.

Divine Secrets of the YA Sisterhood - SEE Oct 15/09, Issue 829

In the first writer's experience, it seems too bad she didn't take up the opportunity to read V.C. Andrews' Flowers in the Attic and discuss it with her mother - who seems very cool and openminded to suggest it.

Penny McKee Branch New Location Announced

The Penny McKee Branch Library in Edmonton has announced their new location - in a former bar and strip club.
The branch was not able to remain in the Abbotsfield Mall and are moving a block away into their new location by the end of the year. There are plans to heavily renovate the Roadhouse Grill building, adding windows and an aquarium.
The new location is causing some controversy, the CBC has been reporting on the announcement of the new location today. Concerns have been raised by some members of the community that the library will be 'too close' to drunks. This seems to presume that only certain members of the community will (or should) use the new location, and that library-goers need to be protected from the community at large.
This should be a very interesting transformation for the Penny McKee Branch and their users.
Please follow the link to the CBC story, the discussion going on in the comments is particularly interesting. It looks like there are a lot of people in favour of this move (or at least in favour of keeping the branch open in the community no matter where it will be)

CBC - Library's Move into Former Bar Stirs Controversy

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sign up for the next tour of the women's prison

If you're interested in getting to know more about the FLIF/GELA partnership with the Edmonton Institution for Women and the multiple opportunities for volunteer involvement, sign yourself up for a prison tour. Let Kirsten know before October 23 so you can fill out security clearance. Here are the deets:

"GELA has organized another tour of the Edmonton Institution for Women (11151 - 178 Street) for Saturday, November 7 at 3 p.m. Any interested members of the library community are welcome to sign up for the tour. Cathy, the inmate librarian will be leading the tour so you can learn first hand about all the great GELA library projects, like our bookclubs and Storybook project.

A list of participants and their completed security clearance forms must be submitted by me to the prison by Friday October 23. The tour lasts about 1 ½ hours and can accommodate approximately 12 people so sign up soon!

To sign up for the tour and receive your security clearance form, please email Kirsten Wurmann at kwurmann @

Thanks for your interest,


On behalf of the GELA Prison Library sub-committee"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

GELA Prison Committee Book Club Project Meeting

If you're interested in getting involved with book clubs at the women's prison, here are some details about upcoming meetings. The book clubs have been really popular with the women and they've been reading some awesome books - to find out more come to the meeting!

"Book Club meeting:

At the last committee meeting, we discussed having a Book Club Subcommittee (I suppose that would be a sub-Subcommittee..?). I’d like to have a meeting within the next few weeks, but I recognize that October can be very busy. Nevertheless, I’m going to throw out a few dates in October and a couple in November. I was thinking of holding it at Remedy (close to the U of A and on a bus route) at 5:30 – does that work for everyone?

[FYI - The next book club meeting at the prison is on November 7th & the book is A Thousand Splendid Suns]

Here are a few dates:

(this Friday) October 16th

(next Friday) October 23rd

Tuesday, October 27

Monday, November 3rd

Thursday, November 5th"

Visit the blog and let them know what date works best for you!


Thursday, October 08, 2009

September 30, 2009 Meeting Minutes

Minutes from the September 30, 2009 FLIF Meeting

1. Round table introductions!

Thanks to everyone for coming to the first FLIF meeting for Fall 2009! Sorry the introductions were a little brief, but hopefully we will get to know each better throughout the year.

2. Points to Highlight for Community Bookshelf Project

What’s it all about

The Community Bookshelf Project works with inner city agencies to provide free reading materials for Edmontonians who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless. These individuals are may be embarrassed or unable to access other sources of reading materials. For many people, reading offers them an escape and a healthy way to use their time. In some cases, reading has helped people to kick addictions and make a new start.

Where do the books go

Books are distributed regularly distributed to a few select agencies and on an as-needed basis to other agencies.

We drop books at:
• The Bissell Centre – a daytime drop-in centre for inner city residents that also offers other services like showers, laundry facilities, food and help finding housing.
• Boyle Street Community Services – Boyle Street is also a daytime drop-in centre for inner city residents though it also houses a number of other services including the Learning Centre Literacy Association and Street Works. We are currently looking at new opportunities to work more closely with the Learning Centre on some innovative evening programs for Boyle Street clients (we’ll be looking at FLIF to help if this happens!).
• HIV Edmonton – an agency offering drop-in services for Edmontonians living with HIV. Approximately 60-70% of their clients are homeless.
• Operation Friendship – a multipurpose agency for seniors. Operation Friendship runs a daytime drop-in centre for inner city seniors and also operates 5 housing facilities for seniors in the inner city.

We help at events like:
• Homeless Connect – a one-day event for inner city residents held at the Shaw Conference Centre. Attendees can access a wide variety of services from legal help to getting IDs to having their teeth cleaned. The Community Bookshelf Project sets up a table with free books at each event. We usually bring about 20 boxes of books (donated by Edmonton Public Library) and have anywhere from 200-400 people drop by the table. If anyone is interested in dropping by to see what it’s all about, the next event is happening on Sunday, October 4 from 10-3pm. We’re happy to have any extra help! (If anyone is interested, let me know! People can come by for a whole shift or just an hour, it’s up to them)

Where do we get the books we donate

FLIF book drives, donations from local libraries (especially Edmonton Public Library) and personal donations.

Community Walk

We’re thinking of organizing a community walk for anyone interested in getting to better know Edmonton’s inner city. We’re looking at end of October – weather permitting.

3. Greater Edmonton Library Association (GELA) Women’s Prison Subcommittee

What’s it all about

Over the years FLIF has developed a strong partnership with GELA and many of our members have participated in their prison project. This initiative provides services to the women at the Edmonton Women’s Federal Correctional Institution. Over the summer GELA had participated in “vamping” up the library space, by weeding out books, bringing in new titles and giving the space a paint job. Other projects that go on throughout the year include

1. The Storybook Project-This is an opportunity for mother’s in the institution to record themselves reading stories so that they can send them to their children. The pilot project was completed over the summer using Audacity (Tara gave us some of her insights on how the project went). The women who participated were able to send the book and CD to their child. GELA hopes to continue with this project throughout the year.

2. Book Club-Several times a month (usually on the weekend) two GELA members go to the prison and read selected titles for the book club. To see a tentative schedule of what is coming up in the fall visit the GELA blog (). This project requires some what of a regular commitment as it includes the completion and discussion of specific book titles.

3. Prison Training Sessions- To volunteer at the prison there are two 3hour sessions that must be completed. We are still trying to coordinate times for the new training sessions. The first session is an orientation and tour of the prison and the second session is a safety orientation. Stay tuned for this fall’s schedule.

4. Streetworks

What’s it all about

Streetworks is a program offered by the Boyle Street Community Centre that focuses on harm reduction. There are counselors and nurses on staff that work closely with the community and they provide various services and offer education regarding safe intravenous drug use. The organization does have a small, but very significant collection of harm reduction literature. This is a very new partnership and over the summer two FLIF members did an assessment of the collection and developed a plan on how to get their library catalogued and put online so that their resources can be more efficiently and widely utilized. Although there had been little developments with the project we hope to get it launched over the next few months.

5. APIRG (Alberta Public Interest Research Group)

What it’s all about

The APIRG partnership is very new but we are hoping that it will flourish throughout the year. Located in HUB mall, APIRG is a campus based resource centre who’s main focus is community based research, education and social activism. We were approached by them in early September after they were impressed by our banned book collection that we displayed while we were tabling with CLA for Freedom to Read Week last February. APRIG has a small, but very unique collection of literature that they receive through donation and a small budget every year. We have offered to help them catalogue this material using the Edmonton Free Library and they are very excited in becoming more involved in 2010 Freedom to Read Week

6. Freedom to Read Week

What it’s all about

FLIF in collaboration with the CLA student chapter host’s Freedom to Read Week in February. We usually share a table in HUB mall and offer the campus community information on intellectual freedom and social responsibility, display recently banned or challenged books and provide walker’s by a brief history of the event. CLA and FLIF have in the past also made buttons and bookmarks that are sold at a very small fee (all proceeds go to GELA). More to come concerning this year’s events!

7. Benefit to Promote Canadian Literacy?

What it’s all about

We hope to build a new partnership with UBC’s Librarians Without Borders this New Year! We are open to fresh ideas on how to go about doing this, but so far we thought that a neat idea would be to have some sort of benefit event in Edmonton where the proceeds can go towards one of their current projects.

8. Call for 2010 Co-Chairs!

If you are interested in the co-chair position, please send one of us an email! Also let us know if you have any questions about the meeting or if you have any specific interest in any of the initiatives that we have discussed so far.
Brianna- berban @
Julie- jruel @
Madelaine- mvanderw @

OR flifblog @

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Another Amazing Homeless Connect!

This Sunday, October 4th, more than one thousand people showed up at the Shaw Conference Centre for the biannual Homeless Connect Edmonton Event. Attendees had access to a variety of services, including haircare, foot and dental care, taxes, free winter clothing, legal advice, and FLIF was there alongside the Greater Edmonton Library Association's Community Bookshelf Project. Our table was spread with a wide variety of free books, donated by EPL as well as personal donations, and we provided readers' advisory for people looking for a good read.

In total, 22 boxes of donated books were distributed, with 8 of those boxes going to the George Spady Centre and Boyle Street Community Services. We all had a great time talking books with the attendees and can't wait for the next event!

CBC has some coverage of the event here and the Edmonton Journal has a more in-depth article here.

We'll let you all know the date of the next one and we highly recommend volunteering as a great way to connect with the community.


Friday, October 02, 2009

"American Girl" Homeless Doll?

Wow! We're confused! How do we feel about the new "homeless" American Girldoll, Gwen?

Sickened? Disgusted? Or a great way to spend $95.00?

What do you think?

Read the article here.

"American Girl dolls are expensive and extremely popular - among the most sought-after toys among girls from ages four and up. Each doll comes with its own storyline, and a relatively new doll is causing quite a stir. "Gwen," which debuted this year, is portrayed as being homeless.

"I think it's really a good idea, because homelessness affects everybody, at different economic levels," Herb Smith, president of the Los Angeles Mission, remarked to Kauffman. "I actually think it's a good teaching tool."

Not so fast, say some homeless advocates, such as one who observed to Kauffman that she finds "the whole concept to be extremely disturbing. It's not a doll I would ever buy for a child."

There are between 7,000 and 10,000 homeless children in L.A. alone, Kauffman notes, and it's doubtful many, if any, could afford Gwen's $95 price tag."

Is this a good way to raise awareness about homelessness? Hmmm.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Anarchist Bookfair this Weekend

It's short notice but all of you intellectual freedom fans should really come check out the Edmonton Anarchist Bookfair this weekend, October 2-4 at the Edmonton Ukrainian Centre (11018 97 Street NW). This free event has been running since 2002, and provides the people of Edmonton with a chance to access radical information, to share ideas, and an opportunity to connect with like-minded folks. Independent documentaries will be screened, you can participate in skill-share workshops, and there will be tons of radical literature to browse through. And if you're not an anarchist, that's okay, because everyone is welcome!!!!

We're really excited about the opening speaker, Victoria (Vikki) Law, an activist and author who will speak about the issues faced by incarcerated women in Canada and the US, as well as women's resistance and organizing in prison. Law will facilitate a discussion on how people on the outside can support women in prison. This talk will be of particular interest to those involved or interested in the GELA Prison Project, and it would be great if members of the progressive library community in Edmonton could show up to participate in the discussion and share our experiences and initiatives with Law.

If you'd like to hear CJSR's Adamant Eve interview with Law (airing tomorrow at 5:30pm) click here.

Victoria Law is also the author of Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women, an absorbing legal and social analysis of the racism and sexism underlying the criminal justice system in America. Check out Radical Reference's review of the book here.

Bitch Magazine's Kari Lyderson interviewed Law for their Spring 2009 issue, read it here.

Finally, Vue Magazine has an article about Law in this week's issue.

Don't miss out! Unless (like some people) you have to work. Take notes please!


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Knowledge is Power: Access to Information in Alberta

Did you know that it's Right to Know Week in Alberta? It all started yesterday with the International celebration of Right to Know Day, and continues up until the 2nd of October. Alberta's festivities are a tad belated, and will be held on October 7th in Edmonton.

Find the details below, courtesy of the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership

"Calgary—The importance of citizen access to government information will be the focus of Knowledge is Power: Access to Information in Alberta events in Calgary and Edmonton on October 6 and 7, 2009. Hosted by the Alberta Press Council, University of Alberta Centre for Constitutional Studies and the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership, the events are part of the national Right to Know Week.

Keynote speaker Darrell Evans, Executive Director of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, will address the need for advocacy and activism to get access to information and to keep that access from being eroded over time, and recount some of the notable successes citizens have had in exercising the right to know in Canada.

“Governments will always try to dominate the political agenda and control citizens by controlling access to information,” says Evans. “But from the perspective of a citizen, ‘the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.’ That means it’s our civic duty to counter the spin by demanding timely access to the key government records that tell us what’s really going on.”

Evans will be joined by panelists Linda McKay-Panos, lawyer and Executive Director of the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre and; in Calgary, Lorne Motley, Editor-in-Chief of the Calgary Herald; in Edmonton, Alan Mayer, Editor-in-Chief of the Edmonton Journal.

McKay-Panos will discuss how Alberta’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) legislation functions and what changes are needed to improve the legislation.

Motley and Mayer will emphasize the importance of the right to know from the media’s perspective as a key source of public information for citizens in a democracy. The Editors-in-Chief of Alberta’s two major dailies will also offer examples of the obstacles to access to information in Alberta.

In Alberta, the public’s right to know is guaranteed by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The public’s right to information allows any person to request records under the control of a public body relating to the decisions, operations, administration and performance of government. The underlying principle is that citizens are best equipped to hold government accountable, and are better able to participate in the democratic process, when they have timely access to relevant information."

If you'd like to attend, here are the times and locations:

Event Details:
(1) WHEN: Tuesday, October 6, 2009, 7:30 - 9:30 PM
WHERE: EPCOR Centre, Engineered Air Theatre, 205 - 8

(2) WHEN: Wednesday, October 7, 2009, 7:30 - 9:30 PM
WHERE: University of Alberta, Glacier Room, Lister Centre,
87th Ave & 116 St, EDMONTON

Happy Right to Know Week!!!!!

FLIF Meeting this Wednesday in Henderson Hall


This Wednesday, come on down to Henderson Hall at noon to find out more about how you can be a part of Future Librarians for Intellectual Freedom (FLIF). We need your fresh ideas, your enthusiasm, and as little or as much time as you can commit. We'll tell you about what we're involved in and what we hope to do in this coming year. We also need some junior co-chairs so FLIF will have some souls to carry the torch into next year.


See you there!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Banned Books Week!

Hey everyone,

We're a little late in the game, but it's Banned Books Week for our neighbors down south! Running from September 26 until October 3rd in 2009, it's the only national celebration of the freedom to read in the U.S.

From the website:

"It was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than a thousand books have been challenged since 1982. The challenges have occurred in every state and in hundreds of communities. Click here to see a map of book bans and challenges in the US from 2007 to 2009. People challenge books that they say are too sexual or too violent. They object to profanity and slang, and protest against offensive portrayals of racial or religious groups--or positive portrayals of homosexuals. Their targets range from books that explore the latest problems to classic and beloved works of American literature."

Click here for the American Library Association's top ten most challenged books of 2008. We're proud to say that we've read, and enjoyed, almost all of them - and yes, even Gossip Girl. Shhhh!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Homeless Connect volunteer opportunities!

There are 2 shifts remaining for the upcoming third Homeless Connect Edmonton on Sunday, October 4th at the Shaw Conference Centre. You can choose from 9:30am-12:30pm and 12:30pm-3:30pm, depending on your love of sleeping in or not.

This event is a fantastic chance to work directly with the community and network with agencies and service providers who FLIF and GELA work with throughout the year - and you'll get a chance to hang out with us - yay!

Let us know at flifblog @ if you can make it, we'd love to get to know you better! Alternately, join the GELA Community Bookshelf Project group on Facebook and send Amelia Martin a message that you can help out.

Thanks gang!

Brianna, Julie, and Madelaine

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Expression and Discrimination under Alberta Human Rights Law

The Centre for Constitutional Studies at the University of Alberta is holding a panel discussion on the Boisson V. Lund case on October 1st.

Find the details below:

"Join us for a panel discussion on the Boisson v. Lund case.


* Yessy Byl, Human Rights Education Project, Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre
* Janet McCready, Peacock Linder & Halt LLP (Counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association)
* Patrick Nugent, Chivers Carpenter Lawyers (Counsel for Dr. Darren Lund)
* Patricia Paradis, Paradis & Associates

Thursday, October 1, 2009
5:00 - 6:30 p.m.
231 Law Centre
University of Alberta

This event is free and open to the public."

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Breaking news guys! After the ominous threat of closure, the Free Library of Philadelphia is staying open!!!! Thanks in part to over 2000 letters of protest sent to state legislators (we CAN make a difference!), the jobs of 3000 employees are no longer at risk and the FLP can continue to provide important library services to the citizens of Philadelphia.

We think this calls for a celebratory drink! That was a little scary for a while there...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

UN International Day of Peace, Sept. 21, 2009

The John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights has just announced the events organized in celebration of the United Nations International Day of Peace. As librarians, we're committed to education, enlightenment, tolerance, and ultimately peace, so show your face at City Hall Plaza at noon and show the world that librarians are fighting the good fight. Heck, you can even make a huge placard, just no spelling errors, okay?

See the below details, courtesy of the JHCPHR:

"On Monday, September 21st, 2009 the United Nations International Day of Peace will be celebrated worldwide and for the sixth year in Edmonton at 12:00pm at the City Hall Plaza, (west of the Cenotaph). The World Peace Flag will be raised up the flagpole at the southwest corner of the south plaza. The 'World Peace Flag' has the word 'peace' written on it in 37 languages representing many of the world's languages and reflecting the common desire and pursuit of peace by all the world's peoples.

The program will include musical performances and speakers who will define peace in today's world from many perspectives. A moment of silence will be observed to honour the world-wide "Million Minutes for Peace Pledge". All are welcome, rain or shine. A proclamation from City of Edmonton Mayor Mandel will be read.

The United Nations' International Day of Peace - marked every year on September 21 - is a global day when individuals, communities, nations and governments highlight efforts to end conflict and promote peace. Established by U.N. resolution in 1982, "Peace Day" has grown to include millions of people around the world who participate in all kinds of events, large and small.

Speakers at the event include: David King, former Minister of Education, Member of the Legislative Assembly and current Executive Director of the Alberta Public School Boards’ Association, and Councillor Amarjeet Sohi to speak on Edmonton’s Racism Free and Multiculturalism Initiatives.
This annual U.N. event is supported by several organizations of Edmonton's peace community: Project Ploughshares, Raging Grannies, Women in Black, Unitarian Church of Edmonton Social Justice Committee, The Edmonton Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights, Edmonton Interfaith Centre, Earth's General Store, and Racism Free Edmonton Initiative.

For more information, contact: Netta Phillet, Helen Ready,"

Monday, September 14, 2009

The closure of Philadelphia's Free Libraries

A moment of silence for the untimely demise of Philadelphia's Free Libraries.


As posted on their website, the FLP will be closing the doors of all branches as of October 2, 2009 as a result of a so-called "lack of funding."

An open letter to all FLP patrons reads:

"All Free Library of Philadelphia Customers,

We deeply regret to inform you that without the necessary budgetary legislation by the State Legislature in Harrisburg, the City of Philadelphia will not have the funds to operate our neighborhood branch libraries, regional libraries, or the Parkway Central Library after October 2, 2009."

The mind boggles. How can the wealthiest nation in the world NOT afford to contribute to the education of its citizens? See Cory Doctorow's amazing rant over at Boing Boing for a little catharsis, and ponder on this:

"Picture an entire city, a modern, wealthy place, in the richest country in the world, in which the vital services provided by libraries are withdrawn due to political brinksmanship and an unwillingness to spare one banker's bonus worth of tax-dollars to sustain an entire region's connection with human culture and knowledge and community."


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Homeless Connect website updated

As mentioned in today's meeting, FLIF is looking for volunteers to help out at the upcoming Homeless Connect event. You can visit the website for more details, but just remember - it's coming up really soon, so mark those calendars in Sharpie for October 3rd and 4th.

Super Secret Special Speaker!

With no small amount of excitement did we hear the breaking news of the AMAZING keynote speaker booked for the upcoming February SLIS PD Day. We can't tell you who he/she is until the news is formally announced, but keep visiting the blog - we'll reveal the name soon!

Hint: He/She has been pivotal in promoting social justice and intellectual freedom issues in librarianship for a good many years now. Who could it be???? We are, as the kids say, pretty pumped about this event.

Upcoming FLIF meeting

Just a heads up to all future Future Librarians for Intellectual Freedom that our first meeting will be held in Henderson Hall on campus on Wednesday, September 30th at noon. We'll bring some fattening snacks and will spend about 30 minutes introducing you to planet FLIF. We hope to have one or two special guest speakers and we'll also talk about upcoming openings for junior co-chairs and blogmasters.

Thanks for listening to us at today's Bagel Day and we hope to see you at the meeting! Remember - any amount of commitment is welcomed and we just appreciate that there are others out there committed to the cause of promoting IFSR issues in librarianship.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The dystopian future is now!

Cushing Academy, located about 90 minutes outside of Boston, has taken a step that's caused quite the uproar in the library blogosphere: they've discarded all books from their library collection. James Tracy, headmaster of the New England prep school and mastermind of the bookless library claims, “When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books.’’

The death of the book has been loudly proclaimed from all corners for some time now, but this particular initiative seems like a disturbing harbinger of things to come. The $12,000 cappuccino machine, in particular, strikes us as a giant middle finger to less financially secure students who traditionally have relied on print collections:

"Instead of a library, the academy is spending nearly $500,000 to create a “learning center,’’ though that is only one of the names in contention for the new space. In place of the stacks, they are spending $42,000 on three large flat-screen TVs that will project data from the Internet and $20,000 on special laptop-friendly study carrels. Where the reference desk was, they are building a $50,000 coffee shop that will include a $12,000 cappuccino machine."

And eighteen e-readers to satisfy the reading needs of the entire school? The ALA's Keith Michael Fiels remarks,

“Unless every student has a Kindle and an unlimited budget, I don’t see how that need is going to be met,’’ Fiels said. “Books are not a waste of space, and they won’t be until a digital book can tolerate as much sand, survive a coffee spill, and have unlimited power. When that happens, there will be next to no difference between that and a book.’’

Of course, if there's anywhere this experiment may have a chance of succeeding, it's an upscale prep school - it's when this type of thinking percolates into the public library system that we truly have some enormous issues on our plate. Thoughts?

Sunday, September 06, 2009

A few odds and sods in the Edmonton library community

First off, if those student loans/scholarships are treating you well this September, you have the chance to hobnob with John Wood, founder of Room to Read on October 5th at the Sutton Place Hotel in Edmonton. Details are below:

"- Imagine a world in which every child can read
- Envision a world where every child has access to books
- Picture a world where all children realize their full potential!

Join us....
for lunch to meet John Wood, Founder of Room to Read, a Time Magazine Asian Hero and author of
Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: an Entrepreneur's Odyssey to Educate the World's Children.

Monday, Oct. 5, 2009
Sutton Place Hotel, 10235 101 St.
11:30 am - 1:30 pm

Tickets: $60. per person, $500. for 10 person table.
To register contact:; 780-481-6308
Space is limited, reserve your seat today!
World Change Starts With Educated Children"


Next up, the Greater Edmonton Library Association is having its Fall Social for all members (psst! membership is free for SLIS students!) at one of our favorite places - Martini's Lounge, a haven of free popcorn and sweet 1980s jams. It's located at 9910 109 Street, near the Legislature and a hop, skip, and jump from Grandin LRT station. Show up on Thursday, September 10, 2009 for an opportunity to meet and mingle with some movers and shakers in the Edmonton library community.


Finally, for those of you waiting with baited breath to join the ranks of FLIF, we'll be at the upcoming Bagel Day in Henderson Hall - that's this Wednesday, September 9th. We'll be talking briefly about our purpose, our initiatives, and various positions you can volunteer for within the group. See you there!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

United Nations' University/University of Alberta volunteer opportunities

Get those planners out - it's going to be a busy autumn!

For all those interested in human rights - and you wouldn't be here if you weren't, right? - there are opportunities to get involved with the UN University and U of A's upcoming international conference, "Towards 'the Dignity of Difference,'" happening October 2-4. That is, if you can find enough time between volunteering at Homeless Connect and celebrating not one, but TWO FLIF co-chair birthdays! A variety of positions are available - check out the details below, provided courtesy of the FGSR:

"United Nations' University - October 2-4
John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights is seeking volunteers to help with final pre-conference planning and onsite assistance for United Nations' University and University of Alberta's international conference entitled "Towards 'the Dignity of Difference'", scheduled to be held October 2-4 in Edmonton. The conference's objective is to examine the impacts and implications of the most recent iteration of the Western-centric discourse represented in Samuel Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations and Francis Fukuyama's The End of History theses. It will bring together some of the most prominent scholars in the relevant fields, as well as many distinguished public figures including: Fred R. Dallmayr, Hassan Hanafi, Benjamin Barber, Robert Cox, Hamid Dabashi, Tanya Narozhna, Roger van Zwanenberg, and Vesselin Popovski. The following committees have volunteer spaces available: conference promotion, local arrangements/onsite arrangements, registration, transportation, and social committee. If you are interested in getting involved in the exciting work of this international conference by volunteering your time, please contact Siavash Saffari ( indicating your area of interest, times when you are available and language spoken. We will be happy to discuss options or answer any questions you may have."

See you all there,


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tintin under lock and key at the Brooklyn Public Library

A future FLIFer tipped us off on an article in today's New York Times, "A Library’s Approach to Books That Offend," by Alison Leigh Cowan.

Apparently, in 2007, due to a patron's objection to the depiction of Africans in Herge's Tintin au Congo, the Brooklyn Public Library moved the offending title from the public area of the library to a locked area with restricted access. As Cowan cites in her article,

“Policies should not unjustly exclude materials and resources even if they are offensive to the librarian or the user,’’ says the Web site of the American Library Association, which adds, “Toleration is meaningless without tolerance for what some may consider detestable.”

Check the article out and decide for yourself if restricted access is the best answer to formal objections lodged by patrons. Should "detestable" titles remain accessible to all? Take a look at the CLA and ALA Intellectual Freedom statements, where FLIF thinks you'll find your answer.

It's also very worth perusing the comments on the article for an insight into the public's perception of libraries and censorship...225 comments and going strong - there seems to be some powerful feelings out there!

Thanks C.H. for the tip!


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Volunteers needed for Homeless Connect Edmonton

Hi folks,

With the summer winding down, FLIF is gearing up for another year of activity and activism in the library community.

The Greater Edmonton Library Association's (GELA) Community Bookshelf Subcommittee will have a table set up at Homeless Connect Edmonton to distribute free books to attendees.

All new and present FLIF members are invited to volunteer for the next event on Sunday, October 4th at the Shaw Conference Centre.

Volunteers are needed for both days of the weekend. The book drop-offs and set-up for Homeless Connect will happen on Saturday, October 3, while tabling and take down will happen on Sunday, October 4. Previous events have been very successful, and the more people we have, the more we can interact with the community. Plus, as we all know, the more the merrier!

Please join the GELA Community Bookshelf Subcommittee on Facebook and let Amelia know of your willingness to lend a helping hand, or you can either send us a message at flifblog at or just show up at the inaugural FLIF meeting yet to be announced for September.

Thanks gang, and welcome back!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chinese blogger succesfully fights back?

Chinese censors are notorious for limiting the free speech of citizens. However, it looks like the Net has been loosened a little, as a Chinese court has sided with economics professor and critical blogger Hu Xingdou in his fight against authorities for shutting down his website. According to this article in the Financial Times, this is "first-ever case won by a victim of internet censorship in a Chinese court."

Is this a sign of changing times? Or a one-off situation unlikely to be repeated?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Small changes to the Community Bookshelf meeting

Just a notification of a small change of plans for tomorrow's Community Bookshelf meeting. The location has been changed, and if you're planning to attend, please contact Amelia Martin at for more details.

Also, the Community Bookshelf subcommittee is still looking for additional volunteers for Homeless Connect - particularly in terms of helping to drop off the boxes of books beforehand (Saturday, May 23rd). And if anyone is interested in helping drop off some items at Operation Friendship in the near future, please let Amelia know!

Thanks everyone!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Community Bookshelf Meeting

All interested FLIFers are invited to attend the upcoming Community Bookshelf Subcommittee (formerly known as the GELA Bissell Centre Subcommittee) meeting. For more information on this project, click here. If you'd like more information, please feel free to contact Amelia Martin at amartin @

The Community Bookshelf Subcommittee meeting is scheduled for this Thursday, May 7, at 6pm at the downtown Stanley A. Milner library (6th floor). Ask the security guards to key the elevator for you.

Also, Amelia Martin is seeking volunteers able to help with a bookdrop at Operation Friendship on Thursday or Friday, May 7-8. They're running out of books and are eager for a new drop off. If anyone is free, please let her know via the above email. A vehicle is always much appreciated to transport the books.

Thanks, and we hope to see you there!

Brianna, Julie, and Madelaine
FLIF Co-chairs, 2009-2010

A fond farewell and a brief introduction

With classes completed and papers submitted, FLIF co-chairs Richard and Masha are graduating and leaving the FLIF fold. Congratulations to both of you, and many thanks for a wonderful two years of service in Future Librarians for Intellectual Freedom! New co-chairs Brianna, Julie, and Madelaine have some mighty big shoes to fill and we look forward to continuing the fine work you've done.

In addition to existing partnerships, we hope to broaden our horizons with a greater focus on issues in international librarianship. Stay tuned for more information!

Brianna, Julie, and Madelaine,
FLIF Co-chairs 2009-2010

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Progressives head to the Alberta Library Conference

The Alberta Library Conference happens later this week. The conference theme is “Cultivating our Future: Seeds for Success,” and the program includes a variety of sessions/themes that relate to issues of intellectual freedom and social responsibility. The environment, alternative materials, and services to diverse communities and excluded populations: all of these will receive some attention at this year’s conference.

Here are some of the sessions that, we think, bring together libraries and the library and information profession with outreach movements, social change, and IFSR issues. And if you need a reminder of what those issues are, please see the post linked here.

Session B1 Thinking Critically About Sustainable Development
Presenter: Keith Seel

B7 Connecting with New Canadians: Growing Library Services and Programs for Culturally Diverse Populations
Presenters: Shannon Vossepoel and Tamara Van Horne

B11 Dollars and Sense: The Marriage of Economic Success and the Nonprofit/Voluntary Sector
Presenters: Karen Lynch and Russ Dahms

C6 Perspectives on Aboriginal Publishing: A Look at the Aboriginal Publishing Industry from an Aboriginal Viewpoint
Presenters: Larry Loyie and Constance Brissenden

F5 Public Libraries as Community Places
Presenter: Francine May

F9 Growing a Prison Library: The Greater Edmonton Library Association Experience
Presenters: Kirsten Wurmann, Valla McLean, Liz Dennett, Allison Sivak

F11 Lorne McRae Intellectual Freedom Lecture
Presenter: FLIF (Masha, Richard, Tara, and Madelaine will be heading to Jasper to share our student perspectives and discuss some of our current and future projects. We’re honoured to have the opportunity.).

G3 Libraries as LEEDers
Presenter: Gerry Meek

G6 Gender Expression: an Interpretation of the CLA’s 2008 Statement on Diversity and Inclusion
Presenter: Moyra Lang

G10 Open Access: What’s In It for My Library?
Presenters: Andrew Waller and Heather Morrison

H3 Sustainable Library Design: Attitudes for the Future
Presenter: Carmel Gatt

H8 Serving Socially Excluded Populations through Community Development Librarianship
Presenter" Amelia Martin

H9 Growing Your Library’s Resource Landscape
Presenter: Leeanne Morrow

H10 Advocating an Alberta Feed to CLA’s Annual Survey on Challenges in Canadian Libraries
Presenter: Toni Samek

We recommend that you try to catch these sessions if you can. Too bad so many of them overlap :( If there’s an ALC session that belongs on this list that we missed, please let us know by emailing flifblog @ (without the spaces).

All the best to the presenters, their guests, and all conference-goers. See you in Jasper!

Monday, March 23, 2009

FLIF receives UofA Senate recognition

FLIF is pleased to inform you that our student group has been nominated for the University of Alberta Senate's Beyond These Halls community service recognition program.

This Senate distinction recognizes the community service efforts of all groups and individuals that are nominated, but they also select certain individuals/groups to acknowledge at a celebration event. We have recently been informed that the Senate has selected FLIF as one of the groups to be specifically recognized at this ceremony.

Group members, supporters, and guests may join the festivities, and any FLIF committee members and anyone from the School or community wanting to attend are welcome.

The celebration event is:
Wednesday, March 25th
Timms Centre for the Arts
The Senate office has requested RSVPs to

We want everyone to know that it is the commitment of our members and FLIF supporters that make us a strong student group, one able to give back to our community. It is nice to have the efforts of past and present FLIF committee members and efforts recognized in this fashion, and our thanks go out to everyone for their encouragement. Finally, we feel that the partnerships we’ve forged with the UofA CLA Student Chapter and the members of GELA's advocacy and outreach subcommittees have created unique opportunities for FLIF. We hope that these groups and their members will share this distinction with us, as their excellent contributions make us the group we are today.

Masha and Richard
FLIF Co-chairs, 2008/09

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Banned books cafe and Journal story

I just got in from the Banned Books Cafe at EPL. This was another great event celebrating Freedom to Read Week. Members of the audience read from banned or challenged books, including some of our FLIF members. Thanks to Caroline and Ray for their efforts organizing this event, and for inviting us to join them. Thanks as well to EPL for hosting, and continuing to remind our community about the freedom to read.

Also, a story from today's Edmonton Journal was brought to my attention. It discusses Amin Amir, a Somali-born artist cartoonist now living in Edmonton. His political cartoons are read internationally, and their content would cause him no end of troubles in Somalia. It is in part because of the intellectual freedoms we enjoy here in Canada that Mr. Amir is able to continue his work. (Link here)

Monday, February 23, 2009

FtRW is here

In support of Freedom to Read Week, the UofA CLA Student Chapter and Future Librarians for Intellectual Freedom (FLIF) are participating in this annual information campaign.

Members of our respective groups can be found in the HUB Mall pedway between 9am to 3pm each day this week.

Come learn more about Freedom to Read Week and intellectual freedom, buy some of our swag (we have buttons!), or simply check out the controversial material we’ll have on display.

With a minimum donation of $2, you're eligible to enter our raffle for an iPod Shuffle. All proceeds from the buttons and raffle will be donated to the Women’s Prison and Bissell Centre Projects sponsored by the Greater Edmonton Library Association. (For more information on these projects, please visit GELA's advocacy and outreach webpage.)

See you there!

Here's a quick shot of today's setup (with apologies for the poor image quality).

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Other FtRW resources

Looking for some good resources on banned and challenged books? Want to know more about censorship? Here are a few items you might check out.

Sandra Bernstein's "When the Censor Comes"

The CLA/Freedom to Read challenged books and magazines list (pdf)

The 2007 results of the CLA first annual Survey of Challenged Publications (pdf)

ALA's Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books of the 20th Century (with explanations)

ALA's list of 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books (1990-2000) (pdf)

In 1986, the ALA sought to clarify the language around book challenges and book banning. Regarding a challenge:

* Expression of Concern. An inquiry that has judgmental overtones.
* Oral Complaint. An oral challenge to the presence and/or appropriateness of the material in question.
* Written Complaint. A formal, written complaint filed with the institution (library, school, etc.), challenging the presence and/or appropriateness of specific material.
* Public Attack. A publicly disseminated statement challenging the value of the material, presented to the media and/or others outside the institutional organization in order to gain public support for further action.
* Censorship. A change in the access status of material, based on the content of the work and made by a governing authority or its representatives. Such changes include exclusion, restriction, removal, or age/grade level changes.
(copied from here)

More than just the freedom to read

With Freedom to Read Week upon us, we want to remind everyone that intellectual freedom and social responsibility go hand-in-hand. LIS professionals engage with a variety of issues in their personal and professional lives, and here are just some of the past and present topics related to intellectual freedom and social responsibility. These can be found in our society and beyond, and it is important that we be mindful of these issues as we celebrate this event.

Academic freedom
Alternative press, media and publishing
Book censorship and challenges
Burning books
Collection development and management
Community development and outreach
Confidentiality and privacy (eg. FOIPP, PIPEDA)
Copyright, copyleft, and fair use
Destruction or looting of libraries and cultural properties/artefacts
Democracy and citizenship
Diversity and cultural awareness
Environment and sustainability
Free speech in the workplace
GLBTQ, gender, and identity
Hate speech and revisionism
Homelessness and poverty
Human rights
Information access and dissemination
Intellectual freedom
Internet access
Internet filtering and monitoring
Labels and rating systems
Legislation regarding freedom to access information
Library funding (especially for public and school libraries)
Licensing of media and other technology
Literacy and reading
Non-traditional materials and materials in other languages
Open access
Open source
Outsourcing and privatization
Public spaces/forums in libraries
Social networking
Social responsibility
Surveillance and mass registration
Technology and the digital divide

Thursday, February 19, 2009

IBBY/PEN Canada Banned books event

I've been meaning to post this. Thanks to Becky for the reminder...

Banned Together
Alberta's finest read the censors' favourites

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Freedom to Read Week, some of Canada's best authors will gather in Edmonton to read from outrageously entertaining, informative, and thought-provoking books for young readers.

Research has shown that one third of books that have been challenged in Canadian schools don't make it back onto the library shelves. Responding to a recent rise in censorship, our province's top creators of books for grownups are joining with their kidlit counterparts to send a powerfully subversive message: no one should stand between a growing reader and a good book.

Greg Hollingshead, Myrna Kostash, Linda Goyette, Todd Babiak, Jocelyne Verret, Caterina Edwards, Marina Endicott, Gwen Molnar, Marty Chan, Kuot Alith and Theresa Saffa will read from children's and young adult books that have been challenged.

You might hear excerpts from Kevin Major's Hold Fast, which was banned for containing foul language, mild sexual content and - egad! - bad grammar; Dennis Lee's Lizzy's Lion, which is apparently too violent and promotes cannibalism; Gwen Molnar's I Said to Sam, which according to one principal had words like "exotic" and "elaborate" which were far too difficult for grade two students.

The event, a joint initiative of IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) and PEN Canada, will be held at 7 pm on February 26, at the Grant MacEwan Conference Theatre (5-142 10700 - 104 Avenue). Admission is free of charge.

For more information or to schedule interviews, please contact Merle Harris (IBBY Canada - Alberta Chair) at or (780) 444-7214.

What: a celebration of Freedom to Read Week
When: Thursday, February 26, 7 to 9.30 pm
Where: Grant MacEwan Conference Theatre (5-142 10700 - 104 Avenue), Edmonton

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Banned Books Café at EPL

Once again the Edmonton Public Library will be hosting a Banned Books Café during Freedom to Read Week.

Banned Books Café
At 7 pm on Thursday, February 26, 2009
Stanley A. Milner branch (downtown)
Free admission

"Celebrate your freedom to read, view and listen during Freedom to Read Week! Come to the Centre for Reading & the Arts, Stanley A. Milner Library to hear readings from challenged books and to participate in discussions about censorship and your freedom to read."

EPL also has a freedom to read website for teens:

A little bit of FLIF history

For those that are curious about the venerable origins of FLIF, here's a link to a 2004 article from School Libraries in Canada. It's an inspiration to read about the inaugural year: documentaries! craft fairs! free books! CJSR appearances! Take a look and leave some comments about what crafty and creative activities you think FLIF should get involved in.

Concordia/GELA Freedom To Reed Week Event

Celebrate Canadian Freedom to Read Week!

Concordia University College Library and the Greater Edmonton Library Association

Toni Samek
Those Free Little Words:
Freestyle Talk about
Canada’s Freedom to Read Week

Friday, February 27, 2009

Come out in support of Canada’s Freedom to Read week by attending this public lecture by award-winning scholar Toni Samek from the U of A’s School of Library and Information Studies. Toni is the author of Intellectual Freedom and Social Responsibility in American Librarianship, 1967-1974 (2001) and Librarianship and Human Rights: A Twenty-first century guide (2007). Enjoy a further opportunity to engage in discussion at a wine and cheese reception and the Concordia Library Gallery.

Presentation at 2:00 pm in the Concordia Auditorium
Wine and cheese reception in the Library Gallery from 3:00 – 5:00 pm

GELA Members: $10.00
Non-Members: $20.00

To register or for more information, email

Monday, February 02, 2009

This is the result of big-box chains

Were you planning to attend Canada's annual book fair/publisher's trade show? Well, it's likely you won't be going.

This recent CBC report indicates that both the national BookExpo and the Toronto Book Fair have been canceled.

These shows, normally targeted at large and small booksellers, have been cancelled after three of four major publishing houses withdrew from the show. The article cites Canada's largest bookstore chain as the reason behind the withdrawals, since there are fewer and fewer independent booksellers to target.

This G&M report confirms the cancellation, but make no mention of the rationale other than the aforementioned withdrawal of certain publishers.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Freedom To Read Week: An Excerpt from Toni Samek

The Canadian Library Association (CLA) University of Alberta Student Chapter and the Future Librarians for Intellectual Freedom (FLIF) have started planning and preparations to recognize Freedom to Read Week (FtRW) on campus during the week of February 22 - February 28, 2009.

We're hoping to use this blog as a place to collect and discuss background information and highlights related to this commemoration. We encourage our members to contribute content and links as we gear up for FtRW events.

Below is an excerpt from Toni Samek's guest editorial in Feliciter (Vol. 52 No.1 2006). It provides a helpful anchor for Freedom to Read Week activities in that it looks beyond classic challenges to library resources and considers the broad threats to intellectual freedom.

"Librarians’ development and articulation of the broad concept of intellectual freedom has been an important and necessary step in the evolution of librarianship into the 21st century. In 2006, our understanding of intellectual freedom transcends struggles over classic challenges to library resources as well as more recent controversies around open Internet access policies. We grapple continuously with intellectual freedom issues on countless fronts at local, national and international levels. These issues include commercialization of public space, copyright and access to information, cultural destruction, digital preservation and obligations to memory, imposed technologies, anti-terrorism legislation, privacy, privatization, self-censorship and information suppression, social exclusion, limits to the international exchange of ideas, transborder data flow, implications of World Trade Organization agreements such as GATS, freedom of inquiry, and access of citizens to government information" (18).

Could any of these examples be incorporated into our promo materials or posters?

- Masha

Monday, January 19, 2009

It's your economy too.

The economy. Library issue? IFSR issue? When you consider that the economic downturn hits everybody (and usually harder on the underprivileged), and that library budgets experience cuts while library usage increases, then I say yes, the bad news is a library issue.

As more and more major governments near and far pledge stimulus packages for their struggling economies, it makes sense to ask what stimulus is in the first place. That's why I like this brief article from the Globe. The reminder is that stimulus means spending, not saving; by putting money back into the economy, rather that cutting taxes, we encourage others to do the same.