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.