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." http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/info.html

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 @ gmail.com 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, intfaith@shaw.ca Helen Ready, hready@shaw.ca

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: roomtoreadedm@yahoo.ca; 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!