Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Banned books resource

Forbidden Library is a nice web site for people interested in banned and challenged books. The about page states:

The books listed on my site were all challenged on some grounds by groups who wished to impose restrictions on them. Some were removed from reading lists, some were removed from school or public libraries, some were burned in bonfires. I do not claim that all of the books in my list are for the same age group, nor do I believe they are all equally suitable for academic reading lists. I merely report documented challenges to books, and in some cases poke fun at the rationale used by those who object to the works mentioned.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Canada needs to get with the program

The Business & Human Rights in Vancouver blog reports that a recent Amnesty International report is critical of the Canadian government and its performance in the international arena: read the report for more details.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

40 years and counting

Today is the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom's 40th anniversary. From their web site:

Established December 1, 1967, the Office for Intellectual Freedom is charged with implementing ALA policies concerning the concept of intellectual freedom as embodied in the Library Bill of Rights, the Association’s basic policy on free access to libraries and library materials. The goal of the office is to educate librarians and the general public about the nature and importance of intellectual freedom in libraries.

Happy Anniversary, OIF!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Censoring Web 2.0

Here's something interesting:

With the continued rise of Web 2.0 and user-generated content, filtering/blocking access to that material by repressive regimes has become another hotspot on the censorship battleground. The Global Voices Advocacy group have a story about it here.

The group have also created an interactive Google map that points to the countries where this form censorship exists and the Web 2.0 sites that are blocked in those countries. The map also indicates locations where citizens and activist groups are speaking out against filtering/blocking user-generated content.
Global Voices Advocacy: Access Denied Map

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Toni Samek honoured

As our peers from the BCLAIFC blog have already noticed, our own Dr. Toni Samek has been honoured with the first annual Library Journal Teaching Award.

Toni brings her passion and expertise concerning issues of IF and SR to the classroom on a daily basis, and we thank her for doing so. Congratulations, Toni!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Interview with Toni Samek

We read banned books, and other stuff too… (the British Columbia Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee blog) has just posted an interesting interview with SLIS' Toni Samek. She talks about critical librarianship, inellectual freedom, and some current issues facing librarians.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

CBC censors itself

In an interesting case of self-censorship, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) removed an actively promoted documentary from its broadcast schedule shortly before it was to be shown on their news channel.

The documentary is an examination of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, which has been persecuted and repressed in China. Though the CBC has previously aired the documentary late at night, they bowed to pressure from Chinese officials to remove the documentary from the broadcast rotation.

As a quick reminder, the CBC is a Crown corporation funded by public money and responsible only to Canadian citizens and our government.

See the Globe and Mail article here and the CBC Arts article here.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Pakistan reaches crisis point

From Article 19:


For immediate release - 5 November 2007
Pakistan: Media Clampdown as Musharraf Bans Criticism

ARTICLE 19 is alarmed by the grave attacks on freedom of expression and human rights in Pakistan, including the arrest of hundreds of journalists, judges, lawyers and human rights activists, and the temporary closure of private broadcasters.

Pakistans media has increasingly been shaping public opinion through critical reporting on key events such as the Red Mosque siege. said Dr Agnhs Callamard, Executive Director, ARTICLE 19. It is therefore no surprise that Musharraf has taken these drastic actions to control the media in flagrant abuse of the right to freedom of expression and an illegitimate attempt to cling onto power.
On Saturday 3 November, President General Musharraf gave a televised address in which he declared a period of emergency rule and suspended elections scheduled for January 2008. Most private television news channels were taken off air and reports allege that as many as 1,500 media workers, lawyers and human rights activists have either been taken into detention or are being held under house arrest. A new Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO), adopted the same day, punishes, among other things, any criticism of the head of State, members of the armed services and any other senior member of government with a possible three-year jail term and 10 million Rp. (US$167,000) fine.

A statement issued today by the Prime Minister, Shaukat Aziz, reversed Musharrafs election suspension, promising that elections will go ahead as scheduled. Attorney-General Malik Abdul Qayyum further clarified: [T]here will be no delay in the election and by 15 November these assemblies will be dissolved and the election will be held within the next 60 days. This backtracking can be largely attributed to those within the country, especially the legal profession, who have strongly protested Musharrafs actions. Key Western allies including the United States and members of the European Union have also exerted pressure on Musharraf by strongly urging the holding of democratic elections as scheduled and the restoration of civilian rule.

ARTICLE 19 calls on all the Pakistani authorities, and Musharraf in particular, to release of all those held in detention or under house arrest for the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression and to oppose the government, to repeal the 3 November Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) immediately and to respect the right of the media to inform the public on matters of interest, including through criticism of any authorities. We also call on Western governments to use their influence to bring about these results and to press for a return to civilian rule through democratic elections.

File-sharing promotes music sales

As the recording industry continues to pursue file-sharing individuals in the US, a new study commissioned by Industry Canada/Industrie Canada reveals that file-sharing in this country may actually be promoting music sales, rather than hurting them. Despite the continued arguments by the RIAA and other groups, the study shows that Canadians who download music via peer-to-peer (P2P) software are more likely to purchase music on new CDs than individuals who do not use P2P programs.
Questions regarding copyright and the legitimacy of P2P file-sharing, electronic distribution (iTunes, Amazon), and the like continue to fly. Meanwhile, recent experiments by bands such as Radiohead and comments such as those made by Trent Reznor suggest that artists are exploring new music distribution models because the industry itself won't adapt to the new reality.

Friday, October 26, 2007


Just wanted you all to know that FLIF now has a account, where we will be bookmarking web sites and web resources of interested. We already have a few bookmarks up and will be adding more as we find them.

If you forget where to find us on, we've added a handy link list on the right-hand side of the screen to let you know where else you can find us online.

If you know of some interesting web sites, blogs, resources, or even other accounts that may be of interest to us, email us: FLIFblog @ gmail dot com

Sunday, October 21, 2007

ISP actively blocking subscribers from torrent network

An informal experiment by staff of the Associated Press indicates that at least one ISP is actively blocking user access to the popular BitTorrent protocols used for filesharing. This is a challenge to Internet neutrality and freedom to access.

Whatever your opinion on the legality and copyright issues of this technology, this means of data transmission and filesharing has been embraced by many companies and open source projects. Universally blocking subscribers from using this protocol clearly ignores the fact that torrents and other P2P programs do have legitimate uses.

So, unless the ISP in question is looking at the content of the files themselves (a violation of user privacy), then they are indiscriminately blocking access with no clear justification for such behaviour.

Read the ars technica article here.

UPDATE: posted 25 October 2007

The ISP in question has claimed that it is not acitvely blocking torrent traffic, but simply "delaying" such traffic to reduce lag time for more important data packets.

Here is a related Globe and Mail article.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Authors, Exiled

Did you know that there is a subject heading for exiled authors? There is. Next time you are looking for a good read, search for "Authors, Exiled". Subheadings include everythign from Language to Psychology to specific countries. The search works in both the EPL and the UofA online catalogues.

Little Sister Bookstore legal papers in SFU Library's Special Collection

BCLA's Intellectual Freedom Committee reports that the legal papers from the Little Sister's Bookstore have been acquired by the Special Collection at the SFU Library.

Little Sister's have been involved in court battles relating to censorship of gay and lesbian materials by the Canada Border Services. They alledged that Canada Border Services had been unfairly delaying (or worse) gay and lesbian books destined to the bookstore since they first censored the bookstores materials back in the mid 8o's. In January (2007) the Supreme Court ruled that they were not elligiable for advanced costs which they had intended to use to take the Canada Border Services to court. Without the money, they had to admit defeat and drop their plans to fight against discrimination. explains it further in this article.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

School Library Journal censorship links

School libraries are often at the crux of censorship scandals because of the delicate position in which they find themselves. Not only do they have to contend with curriculum demands and limited funding, they also have to be wary of The Parent. Many of the banned and challenged books today get on the list because of librarians and teachers attempting to strike a balance between intellectual freedom and parental concern about controversial books. Do you put The Higher Power of Lucky on your shelf or do you risk the wrath of the 5th grader's parents?
This link is the School Library Journal's round-up of censorship issues.

Monday, October 01, 2007

US Banned Books Week link round-up

As mentioned in the previous post, this week is Banned Books week in the US. I've gathered a few links of interest for you folks, starting with a bunch of links from Jassamyn West of One such link is to the write up about Banned Books Week from the Amnesty International USA site, where they highlight a few writers who have been persecuted for having an opinion.

If you want something a little more leasurely to peruse, Hatcher Graduate Library has a great set of pictures on Flikr highlighting some banned or challenged books, including the Harry Potter books, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, the controversial kids book And Tango makes three, and how could I not include a young fan being read Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. FYI, if you are in the neighborhood, each picture links you straight to the book in their catalogue for easy access.

Also on Flickr is the ALA's Banned Books Week group, which has lots of great pictures of banned or challenged books, displays, etc. And, of course, we can't forget ALA's Banned Books Week page, where they have tones of info and resources relating to celebrating our rights to read what we want.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

US celebrates Banned Books week

This week is Banned Books week. There's lots of great stuff going on and lots of great links to send you to, but I thought that I would start with everyone's favorite library cartoon hero, Dewey:

Friday, September 28, 2007

Right to Know Week

September 28th to October 5th is Right to Know Week in Canada. For the Albertan link, please visit

Library holds and privacy issues

Here's an interesting story about privacy issues relating to how libraries make holds available for their patrons to pick up. According to the article, the public library in question leaves the holds out on shelves where patrons can retrieve them, much in the same way that the UofA's Rutherford Library or the Edmonton Public Library does. The problem is that instead of using the first four letters in the patrons name and/or the last four digit in their library card number, private information is in full view (for example, people passing by can see the full name of the person who put the book on hold). And, while it is true that most people have nothing to hide, I think that I would be hesitant to put anything of a sensitive nature on hold. The examples that Mr. Jaffa (the patron who pointed out the issue) pointed out are good ones - I wouldn't want anyone to know if I needed resources on divorce or cancer. Those are private issues and the library ought to try and keep them private.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Censored art

Everything you ever wanted to know about censored art - the banning, the bleeping, and the out right media blackouts. This website will fascinate you and make you want to rent a banned movie or get down to that banned music:

By the way, did you know that in 1918 Manitoba banned comedy films? Were comedies that risque back then :)

Freedom of Expression Project, revisited

We've already posted the link to the Freedom of Expression Project, but I wanted to mention it again because it's a great website and they have tonnes of interesting and thought provoking news items. You can subscibe to the RSS feed (heck, you can even choose which subset of feeds oyu want - informaton and debate, drivers of change, etc.). You can check out their handy glossary, which has definitions for everything from "blog" to media democracy. They even have a great list of web resources.

Privacy vs. security

An interesting article on the privacy vs. security issue: Who's making decisions on privacy vs. security?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Woman refuses to return sex ed book

Critic of sex education book refuses to return library copies

Another great example of how force censorship can just make an item all the more popular. After writing a letter to a newspaper, the book in question became more popular. So what's going to happen now that the story made the news and is circulating far and wide.

... hmm, I wonder if my local library has that book.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Whistleblowing and librarianship

From the FAIFE-L listserv:

An interesting article discussing the issues relating to librarians and whistleblowing: Documents, Leaks and the Boundaries of Expression: Government Whistleblowing in an Over-Classificed Age. This article is particularly pertinent to anyone interested in working in a sector that might have confidential or controversial documents.

It's a new school year

Yep, summer is over. I no longer have to work my tail off and commute 2-3 hours day, so I have time to think about doing shocking things ... like up dating this blog. Did you miss us? Have you forgotten about us or given up on us? I certainly hope not. It's a new school year, so we are all full of enthusiasm and energy. Plus, there's a whole load of newbies coming into their first year, so hopefully we'll get a few new posters too.

Please note, I have added yet another list of links to the right side of your screen: Blogs. Yes, blogs. There are plenty out there, so I thought that we should share some of our favorites. I've added a few to get the ball rolling, but there will be more (and, feel free to let us know if there are any great blogs that you think we might like to add to our list).

Hope you all had a great summer, and (for all you students) hope that your up-coming year is absolutely fabulous and filled with intellectual freedom goodness.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Where do you draw the line?

This incident raises an interesting question concerning the thin line between freedom of expression and defamation or hate speech.

On 4 January 1994, the newspaper Le quotidien de Paris published an article by the Austrian historian and journalist Paul Giniewski (1926–), entitled “The obscurity of error” concerning the papal encyclical Veritatis Splendor (1993; The Splendour of Truth). In it,Giniewski wrote that “...Many Christians have recognized that scriptural anti-Judaism and the doctrine of ‘fulfilment’ of the Old Covenant in the New lead to anti-Semitism and prepared the ground in which the idea and implementation of Auschwitz took seed”. On 18 March 1994, the Alliance générale contre le racisme et pour le respect de l’identité française et chrétienne (AGRIF; General Alliance against Racism and for Respect for the French and Christian Identity) brought proceedings against the newspaper, its director, and Giniewski on charges of racially defamatory statements against the Christian community. Giniewski was convicted before domestic courts. On 31 January 2006, however, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said that it did not accept the argument of the domestic courts that Giniewski’s words amounted to accusing Catholics and Christians in general of being responsible for the Nazi massacres, and that Christians were therefore victims of defamation on account of their religious beliefs. The ECHR considered that Giniewski had sought to develop an argument about a specific doctrine and its possible links with the origins of the Holocaust. In so doing, he had made a serious contribution to a wide-ranging and ongoing debate. The article in question did not contain attacks on religious beliefs as such, but a view which Giniewski expressed as a journalist and historian. As in the Chauvy case (2004), the Court declared that “it is an integral part of freedom of expression to seek historical truth”, and that “it is not its role to arbitrate” the underlying historical issues. Giniewski’s article did not incite to disrespect or hatred nor did it cast doubt in any way on clearly established historical facts. The Court ruled unanimously that Giniewski’s freedom of expression had been violated.[Source: ECHR, Case of Giniewski v. France: Judgement (Strasbourg 31 January2006).]

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Open Library

A new project wherein users will be able to input structured data in a wiki format and thus open access all over the world.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Phoning it in

Telus Cleanses Image on YouTube
Take-down of pro-union films angers Internet speech advocates Bryan Zandberg Published: July 2, 2007
"Earlier this month, Telus ordered YouTube to take down at least 23 videos posted to the site. Each short movie was potentially embarrassing to the telecom's public image since they documented instances of the company's rocky labour relations. Telus claimed their presence on YouTube, a user-generated website, was an act of copyright infringement.YouTube's owners complied and took the videos off-line, but that set off alarm bells among union activists, who argue much of the footage never belonged to Telus in the first place."

Monday, June 18, 2007

London Public Library to install Internet filters on computers in adult section

In response to LPL's proposed installation of Internet filters in the adult section of the library, Prof. Toni Samek, PhD. has written this letter, available at :
17 June 2007
Dear London Public Library Board,
By way of introduction, I am an Associate Professor at the School of Library & Information Studies, University of Alberta, where I have taught since 1994. I am the author of the books Intellectual Freedom and Social Responsibility in American Librarianship, 1967-1974 (McFarland Publishing, 2001) and Librarianship and Human Rights: A Twenty-first century guide (CHANDOS – Oxford – Publishing, 2007). I convene the Canadian Library Association’s Advisory Committee on Intellectual Freedom. I am a member of the Canadian Association of University Teacher’s Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee. I serve on the Book and Periodical Council’s Freedom of Expression Committee. I am a founding member and first convenor of the Association for Library and Information Science Education’s Information Ethics Special Interest Group. Given my background, I am writing to this letter in order to express my deep concern over the London Public Library’s movement to place a filter on some of the library’s adult Internet access stations. Please accept this statement as an informed request that you please reconsider this disturbing pending curtailment of freedoms in your community.
From the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and its human rights stance (as reflected in its myriad of statements, resolutions, and urgent press releases, including its Internet Manifesto), on down to the Canadian Library Association (CLA), intellectual freedom is the first core value of librarianship. It is encoded into the CLA Code of Ethics (1976), which first directs Canadian librarians to uphold the CLA Statement on Intellectual Freedom (1974). It is part and parcel of what librarians stand for, including those who live and labour under the Ontario Library Association (OLA) banner.
As professional librarians worldwide know all too well, Internet filters are notoriously semantically, technically, and ideologically flawed. All filters (and their creators and purveyors) both provide a false sense of security and are not favourable to minority groups and disenfranchised individuals (women, GLBTQ populations, radical thinkers, dissenters, suspect communities, women, the girl-child, and so on). The library must not condone this misleading form of technology with its embedded targeting. If you want your library to remain welcoming to all, then you will have a clear conscience with open Internet access. To move from this solid democratic ground, is to erode the role and standing of your library in your community – and by extension in the broader community.
The Canadian library community and its sister communities are watching this development closely. Because what you propose is not a small step down. It is the tip of a very slippery slope. What does the future hold for your collection, your meeting room use, and your sponsorships? Is your library one of the last bastions of public space in your community? How many other spaces in London exist where people are really supported in being true to themselves, no matter what their religion, thought, age, association, dissent, race, philosophy, gender, disability, sexual orientation, nation of origin, citizenship, class, ideology, and so on?
I would be more than pleased to work with your library staff in order to provide some professional development in the area of intellectual freedom and the paramount need for it in library rhetoric and practice at a time when the global community is threatened evermore by just the opposite. Indeed, Amnesty International has just released a warning that the Internet “could change beyond all recognition” unless action is taken against the erosion of online freedoms. This is termed a “virus of repression.” [] I urge you not to participate in the growing negative global campaign against the free flow of information. The free flow of information is a key condition for education. London Public Library should be as proactive as possible about providing current, quality, multilingual and multi-format sustained education for Internet use – and for as diverse a range of community members as possible. In the long run, those hands that work for lifelong education hold far more hands than those of censors.
Finally, I would like to point out that the CLA’s Statement on Intellectual Freedom directly references and supports the Canadian Charter. What more needs to be said?
Sincerely,Dr. Toni SamekSt. Albert, Alberta

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What Cambodia doesn't want its people to know

Not everyone is going green these days...


(SEAPA/IFEX) - The Cambodian government has banned a report by a London-based environmental watchdog that accuses Prime Minister Hun Sen andtop government officials, as well as their relatives and cronies, ofplundering the country's forests through illegal logging.On 5 June 2007, government officials seized copies of the report and accused Global Witness, the organisation which produced it, of overstepping itspurview and attempting "to incite political problems". Despite Information Minister Khieu Kanharith's claim that "the suppression and confiscation of the report does not concern the freedom to publish and disseminated information, which the government strongly supports", Global Witness Director Simon Taylor has decried the government action as "senseless censorship." "Attempts to suppress this report will not make the facts that it presents disappear. We would very much like to know the legal basis for this decision," Taylor said in a statement."The reaction to this report raises a serious question for Cambodia's international donors," he added. The 95-page Global Witness report, "Cambodia's Family Trees: Illegal Loggingand the Stripping of Public Assets", is still accessible on the Internet. Released ahead of the 19-20 June annual meeting of Cambodia's international donors to discuss future aid to the country, it also accuses these donors of apathy regarding the problem. This is not the first time that the government has confiscated a report by the organisation, which has been monitoring Cambodia's forests for 12 years. In 2005, customs officers at Phnom Penh International Airport seized 2,000copies of "Taking a Cut", which contained similar accusations of corruption and illegal logging in the country (see IFEX alert of 22 July 2005).The government dropped the group as the country's independent forest monitors in 2003 and banished it in September 2005 after Hun Sen declared it "finished".

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cultural genocide 1992, article

The Independent (London) [Foreign News, p. 15]
August 21, 2000, Monday

Sarajeva - Heritage reduced to ashes as Serbs tried to wipe Muslims from history

THE ACRID smell of burning still wafts up as Lejla Gazic carefully unwraps a package containing charred fragments of yellowing paper. The burnt scraps, detailing housing construction in the Ottoman era, are some of the few extant records to survive the Serb bombardment of Sarajevo's Oriental Institute in May 1992.

Once the institute's collection filled 18 steel cases. Now these scorched remnants of a nation's history, together with a few handfuls of books and other records, barely fill the shelves of a single metal filing cabinet.

The institute's staff such as Ms Gazic are working with their colleagues abroad, as they catalogue and classify the few surviving records, and try to rebuild the institute's collection. "Less than 1 per cent of our collections has survived. We are preparing four books, cataloguing what is left. Archivists in Germany have catalogued some of our lost manuscripts, so now we have a record of the memory of our lost manuscripts," said Ms Gazic.

The reconstruction of the archives started after the war. But Ms Gazic and her colleagues know that however much can be reconstructed, an irreplaceable part of Europe's heritage is gone for ever. The destruction of the Oriental Institute was one of the most shocking acts of the Bosnian war that lasted from spring 1992 to December 1995. Bosnian Serb gunners deliberately targeted the building, which housed the largest collection of Ottoman, Islamic and Jewish manuscripts in south-east Europe. It was an attempt to wipe out not just Bosnia's Muslim population, but the very idea of the nation itself.

Incendiary shells were used to ensure the institute's collection was burnt as rapidly as possible. In those flames perished a priceless part of Europe's heritage, including 5,263 bound manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, Hebrew and Adzamijski, Bosnian Slavic written in Arabic; 7,000 Ottoman documents that catalogued centuries of Bosnian history as well as many thousands of other records and books, and works of poetry and literature.

Institute officials say the manuscripts were not moved to a safe place because nobody could then imagine they would be targeted. "It was the beginning of the war. Nobody could imagine that archives and books would be burnt. You can imagine that people might fight each other for some reason but not that they would burn someone's heritage. The cases fell right through to the second floor. When we opened them, there were ashes inside," said Ms Gazic.

The destruction of the institute's collection is a loss not just for Bosnia but for Europe and the world. Bosnia was at the northern end of the Ottoman empire - which lasted from the early 14th century to the 1920s - in contact with Venice and Dubrovnik.

Three months later, in August 1992, the gunners targeted the National and University Library, and once again the air over Sarajevo filled with charred fragments. Dr Kemal Bakarsic, librarian of the National Museum, said then: "All over the city, sheets of burning paper, fragile pages of grey ashes, floated down like a dirty black snow. Catching a page, you could feel its heat, and for a moment read a fragment of text in a strange kind of black and grey negative, until, as the heat dissipated, the page melted to dust in your hand."

This attempt to re-engineer the country's history still continues in Republika Srpska, that part of Bosnia under Serbian control, said Dr Enes Kujundzic, director of the National Library. In towns such as Banja Luka and Visegrad, the centuries old mosques and medresas (Islamic schools) have been dynamited.

The sites of the former Ottoman buildings have been levelled, and grass and trees planted over them, in a maniacal attempt physically to rewrite the Ottoman past into a Serb present.

"Bosanski Brod has been renamed Srpski Brod, Foca is now called Srbinje. All the Bosnian place names have been turned into Serbian ones. Now the Serbs have some doubts about what they did here, as every normal human being would. This is their means of justifying it," said Dr Kujundzic.

Cultural genocide 1992

From the FAIFE listserv, mid-May:

On this day 15 years ago: Burning books

Fifteen years ago this day, on 17 May 1992 gunners of the Serb-led Yugoslav army bombarding the Bosnian capital shelled and burned down the Oriental Institute in Sarajevo (Orijentalni institut u Sarajevu), destroying six centuries of records of Bosnia's history and intellectual life. The resulting blaze consumed the Institute's entire collection, including 5,263 manuscript codices dating back to medieval times and more than 300,000 archival documents, as well as the Oriental Institute's research library and catalogues.

Three months later, on 26-27 August 1992, Gen. Mladic's gunners loosed a concentrated barrage of incendiary shells on the National and University Library of Bosnia-Herzegovina, turning some 1.5 million books to ashes and charcoal -- the single largest act of deliberate book-burning in modern history.

The ashes have cooled long ago, but the damage to culture remains. Adam Lebor reported in 2000 on the efforts of Bosnian scholars to defy those who sought to rob them of their culture and history.

[PHOTO]: Ferman (rescript of the Ottoman sultan), dated 23 December 1832, authorizing the reconstruction of the Old Orthodox church in Mostar. The original decree, part of the judicial records of the Ottoman kadi's court in Mostar, was among the 300,000+ archival documents destroyed on 17 May 1992, when the Sarajevo Oriental Institute was bombarded and burned by
Serb forces.

[PHOTOS]: Views of the burned-out Oriental Institute, which occupied the upper two floors of this Austro-Hungarian-era building in the center of Sarajevo. The photo of the interior, taken in late May 1992, shows the top floor open to the sky with the remains of thousands of burned books, manuscripts and historical documents carpeting the floor.

Know your stuff to increase patron access to information

Free access blocked by unawareness and librarians - many African scientists not aware of free access to online scientific journals

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Is Starbucks anti-God or just telling it like it is?

Starbucks has been critized for printing "anti-God" and "anti-Christian" messages on their cups as part of their "The way I see it" series. Despite boycott threats, Starbucks has no plans to remove the messages. For the full story and to read the actual messages, see here.

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression appalled at attack on journalist in Mississauga, Canada

From the FAIFE-L listserv.

It's chilling to realize that freedom of speech can result in violent attacks, even in a country like Canada where that right is protected in our Charter.

(Toronto, April 19, 2007) CJFE is appalled and shocked by the news that journalist Jawaad Faizi was attacked in Mississauga, Ontario on the evening of April 17. Faizi works for the Mississauga-based newspaper, The Pakistan Post.

Jawaad Faizi describes being attacked by two men in his car outside the home of his Editor, Amir Arain. Two men, one armed with a cricket bat, smashed the car windows and hit Faizi inside the car. When they saw Faizi call 911 on his cell phone, they fled the scene. Paramedics and police, and his editor arrived soon afterwards.

According to Jawaad Faizi, the two men threatened him and said that he should cease writing against Islam, and against the Pakistan-based religious organisation, Idara Minhaj-ul-Quran, and its leader, Cleric Allama Tahir-Ul-Qadri. Allama Tahir-Ul-Qadri is a frequent visitor to Canada.

Both Arain and Faizi have received telephoned threats previous to this attack, and, in fact, on Monday, April 16, they filed a complaint with the police, and had also informed police about other threats they received in January. Police say that they cannot comment on the status of the investigation, but because of the nature of the attack this will probably be sent to the Criminal Investigation Unit and the Diversity Relations Unit.

"That this attack happened here in Canada is of great concern to us," said CJFE Executive Director Anne Game. "We call on the police to treat this matter extremely seriously and ensure that a full investigation into the attack is initiated immediately."

The attack, which sent Jawaad Faizi to hospital for treatment of injuries to his left arm, has caused him to miss two days of work. And on Wednesday, he received a call from the Vice-Principal of the school his three children attend, asking him to keep them at home, as they may pose a security risk.

Faizi states that he would be able to identify his attackers, which may put him at even greater risk of further attacks. In a phone interview with CJFE, Jawaad said "I had so many problems back home [in Lahore, Pakistan] as a journalist, but I'm shocked that this is happening here."

CJFE is very concerned about the nature of this attack and the potential chill on journalists writing about faith-based issues. This is a cautionary tale for us, and points to the need for vigilance in the protection of press freedom not just in other countries, but in Canada as well.

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is an association of more than 300 journalists, editors, publishers, producers, students and others who work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and around the world.

e-mail:, Internet:

FLIF updates

Apologies for the unintentional and long hiatus.

I have a few updates to pass on. With the end of the year came graduation, which means that we have lost our fabulous co-chairs, Tanya and Dai. Fortunatly, they are being succeeded by the equally fabulous Camilla and Melanie.

I'm still trying to keep the blog updated semi regularly (cough, save for the latest hiatus), but I expect that it will be a bit lax over the summer (sigh, I just don't get to play on my computer as much as I like to what with a real job and all). As always, if you have any links or news items that you think we should post, please feel free to fire them off to flifblog at gmail dot com

Hope spring is being good to all of you so far!

Thursday, April 19, 2007


It's the end of the term. Our brains aren't crammed to capacity with bits of school related knowledge. So, I figured that this would be a good time to remind you that FLIF blog will continue to update over the summer. It may not be updated as frequently as we have strived to update it throughout the school year, but it will be updated nonetheless.

So, feel free to alert us to anything that we should post, any cool links, and actions we should be promoting.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Privacy and confidentiality

Promoting privacy and confidentiality may seem counter to the idea of intellectual freedom and anti-censorship, but I think that it is important to under stand the importance of privacy and confidentiality in some contexts. Don Wood has written and interesting post: Why privacy and confidentiality are important.

Hometown Baghdad

This is really amazing : Hometown Baghdad. It's a web documentary of life in Baghdad. I've only watched a few of the episodes so far, but they have been really fascinating. We forget that Canada is a peaceful, relatively safe place to be that does not require baracading ourselves in our houses to stay safe.

Source: Thanks to Tanya

Remembering the looting of the Iraq National Museum

Four years and one week ago, between April 10th and 12th 2003, the Iraq National Museum was broken into, looted and a lot of old and valuable things were destroyed. The group SAFE (Saving Antiquities for Everyone) issued a call for candlelight vigils to be held. So, last week FLIF hosted such an event. Sadly, I was unable to attend, but I wanted to post about it because (a) I should have last week (please forgive me fellow FLIFers) and (b) I think that it is important for us to recognize that this kind of stuff is going on. Furthermore, the looting is being supported by buyers. People are buying illegally obtained national and historical treasures. And, many of those people are getting awya with it.

The destruction is terrible too (though, I have noted that looting garners more attention then damage done because of bombs and such - I guess no one wants to admit that they and their bombs are just as much at fault). At least when an item is stolen, it still exists somewhere. There's still hope that it will find its way back to where it belongs. But, when it is destroyed, then we lose a vluable piece of history. Not just that of Iraq, but of the world.

Hopefully the candlelight vigils will bring awareness to the masses - let them know that there is a whole lot more to Iraq then alledged terrorists and desert and humble little villages. There was also a history, a culture, and intellectual thread that deserves to be preserved.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

End of term madness

Sorry for the lack of posts ... it's the end of term and we are all feeling a bit overwhelmed with final projects.

Just for the record, this blog will continue through out the summer ... it is meant to be a continuous project, and we will strive to keep it as such.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Christian perspective?

An interesting article, "Conservative wants to set Wikipedia right", discusses Conservapedia, the latest wiki in town.

Conservapedia is for those who find Wikipedia to be biased towards a more liberal, anti-Christian and anti-American stance. It keeps a list of alledged Wikipedia biases, including the use of B.C.E./C.E versus the more Christian use of B.C./A.D. and the fact that the editors of Wikipedia are proportionally six times more liberal then the American population. Some of their more popular pages include ones on the theory of evolution and dinosaurs. Interestingly, George W. Bush made it into the top ten (number 9), but Jesus doesn't (number 11).

Long live freedom of speech!

Source: thanks for the links Sarah

Friday, March 23, 2007

Sometimes, online rebellions work

Online rebellion forces censors to back down on banned books

"A wave of online outrage has forced Chinese censors into an unprecedented
decision to allow eight banned books to remain on the shelves."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Freedom to read the Swimsuit Edition

Sports Illustrated censors itself: Sports Illustrated Withholds Swimsuit Issue from Libraries, Schools

Source: Tanya

Whistleblowers wiki


This is an interesting offshoot of Wikipedia: a website where whistleblowers can go to denounce unfair practices, especially in oppressive regimes,while keeping their anonymity.

Wikileaks is developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Our primary interests are oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the west who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their own governments and corporations. We aim for maximum political impact; this means our interface is identical to Wikipedia and usable by non-technical people. We have received over 1.2 million documents so far from dissident communities and anonymous sources.

We believe that transparency in government activities leads to reduced corruption, better government and stronger democracies. Many governments would benefit from increased scrutiny by the world community, as well as their own people. We believe this scrutiny requires information. Historically that information has been costly - in terms of human life and human rights. Wikileaks will facilitate safety in the ethical leaking movement.

Wikileaks opens leaked documents up to a much more exacting scrutiny than any media organization or intelligence agency could provide. Wikileaks will provide a forum for the entire global community to examine any document for credibility, plausibility, veracity and falsifiability. They will be able to interpret documents and explain their relevance to the public. If a document comes from the Chinese government, the entire Chinese dissident community can freely scrutinize and discuss it; if a document arrives from Iran, the entire Farsi community can analyze it and put it in context. Our first sample analysis is available from the news page, providing a look into the future of what Wikileaks can provide.

Source: IFLA listserv, FAIFE-L
... Thanks Melanie!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

France bans citizen journalists from reporting violence

Law could lead to imprisonment of amateur videographers and Web site operators who publish their images

By Peter Sayer, IDG News Service (March 06, 2007)

The French Constitutional Council has approved a law that criminalizes the filming or broadcasting of acts of violence by people other than professional journalists. The law could lead to the imprisonment of eyewitnesses who film acts of police violence, or operators of Web sites publishing the images, one French civil liberties group warned on Tuesday.

The council chose an unfortunate anniversary to publish its decision approving the law, which came exactly 16 years after Los Angeles police officers beating Rodney King were filmed by amateur videographer George Holliday in the night of March 3, 1991. The officers' acquittal at the end on April 29, 1992 sparked riots in Los Angeles.

If Holliday were to film a similar scene of violence in France today, he could end up in prison as a result of the new law, said Pascal Cohet, a spokesman for French online civil liberties group Odebi. And anyone publishing such images could face up to five years in prison and a fine of (E);75,000 ($98,537), potentially a harsher sentence than that for committing the violent act.

Senators and members of the National Assembly had asked the council to rule on the constitutionality of six articles of the Law relating to the prevention of delinquency. The articles dealt with information sharing by social workers, and reduced sentences for minors. The council recommended one minor change, to reconcile conflicting amendments voted in parliament.

The law, proposed by Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy, is intended to clamp down on a wide range of public order offenses. During parliamentary debate of the law, government representatives said the offense of filming or distributing films of acts of violence targets the practice of "happy slapping," in which a violent attack is filmed by an accomplice, typically with a camera phone, for the amusement of the attacker's friends.

The broad drafting of the law so as to criminalize the activities of citizen journalists unrelated to the perpetrators of violent acts is no accident, but rather a deliberate decision by the authorities, said Cohet. He is concerned that the law, and others still being debated, will lead to the creation of a parallel judicial system controlling the publication of information on the Internet.

The government has also proposed a certification system for Web sites, blog hosters, mobile-phone operators and Internet service providers, identifying them as government-approved sources of information if they adhere to certain rules. The journalists' organization Reporters Without Borders, which campaigns for a free press, has warned that such a system could lead to excessive self censorship as organizations worried about losing their certification suppress certain stories.

Source: IFLA's FAIFE-L listserv

Search engine censorship

Google, Yahoo, MSN (and likely many more) censor search results in some countries. Find out more in the Google Censorship FAQ, then thank your lucky stars if you are in a country where they don't censor the search results.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Working Together Project

This looks like it could be very interesting (especially for those of you looking to work in a public library setting): Working Together Project

In their own words, the the sites creators "hope to use this space to share what we’ve been learning from the community about social exclusion and public libraries and librarianship."

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Great Firewall of China

Great Firewall of China- this site lets you test a URL in real-time to see if it is visible to Internet users in China.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Censorship in Belarusian Internet cafes

The Belarusian Council of Ministers adopted on 10 February 2007 a new act on the Regulations on Functioning of the Computer Clubs and Internet Cafes that will impose new censorship rules on all the persons that use the public Internet access points.

According to the new regulations, Internet cafe owners or their authorized agents must keep an electronic registry of the domain names of the sites accessed by users. The electronic log should contain at least a 12-month history of all connections. State Security agents, police or state control inspectors are authorized to review the log in the cases listed by the legislation.

In cases of suspicion of infringement of this law, the Internet cafe management should inform the law enforcement bodies about such events.

The computer clubs and Internet cafes are not allowed to use programs propagating the cult of violence, cruelty and pornography, or disseminate banned information.

The Belarusian Government has very easy ways to regulate the Internet activity within the country, since the only Internet provider is the governmental Beltelecom organization, according to Reporters Without Borders.

See also:
Belarusian government adopts regulations on computer clubs and internet cafes (15.02.2007)

Belorussia tightens control over internet (15.02.2007)

Source: IFLA listserv

Censorship: Still a burning issue
Published: 22 February 2007

"If you want to know what defines an era, look no further than the authors, artists and activists who fell foul if it. Censorship is as old as civilisation itself - and the drive to suppress as strong today as ever. As 'The Independent' launches a major series of the greatest banned books in
history, Boyd Tonkin asks whether the thought police will ever learn"

"So read these formidable literary pariahs with an eye on our age, as well as theirs. In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking - but, otherwise, Cole Porter got it wrong. Heaven knows, anything definitely doesn't go these days. The prudes and persecutors have simply changed tack and chosen different ground, as they always have."

Source: IFLA listserv

More challenged books

Bookslut, a must have site for all book lovers (no, it is not a naughty site), has a great page that lists some challenged books and the reasons why they were challenged in some places. It also notes that for every reported challenge, there are 4 or 5 unreported challenges.

Another great resource is the Alibris site (it's like Chapters, but for independent new and used book sellers). They have a list (with reasons why) of banned children's books and a list of books that were banned for political reasons. They even have a list of frequently challenged authors (with links to their books).

Happy reading!

Keep reading those banned books!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Freedom to read the news

Freedom to read doesn't just encompass books, we also have the freedom to read the news, blogs, web-sites, and so on. News is one of those things that often contentious - on one hand we want to know what's happening, but on the other hand we don't always want on the gory details being broadcasted.

For example, the recent Pickton trial coverage resulted in a lot of talk about what's enough and what's too much.

But, sometimes we don't even get a chance to be offended or worried, because the news is censored from us. made a list of the Top 25 Censored Stories of 2007. Take a look and see if there's anything of interest to you on the list.

More challenged books

Bookslut, a must-have site for all book lovers (tsk, no, it is not a naughty site), has a great page that lists some challenged books and some of the reasons why they were challenged. It also notes that for every reported challenge, there are 4 or 5 unreported challenges.

Another great resource is the Alibris site (it's like Chapters, but for independent new and used book sellers). They have a list (with reasons why) of banned children's books and a list of books that were banned for political reasons. They even have a list of frequently challenged authors (with links to their books).

Keep reading those banned books!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

More Freedom to Read Week

"An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all." -Oscar Wilde

"Free societies... are societies in motion, and with motion comes tension, dissent, friction. Free people strike sparks, and those sparks are the best evidence of freedom's existence." -Salman Rushdie

"Every burned book enlightens the world." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

"If your library is not 'unsafe', it probably isn't doing its job." -John Berry, Library Journal, October 1999
Project Censored is a website that collects, as they put it, "the news that didn't make the news." Their main page features a list of the 25 most-censored news stories of 2007.

An interesting project that uses technology to ensure intellectual freedom: psiphon, which lets internet users in uncensored countries provide uncensored internet access to others who are not so lucky.

More book bans and challenges from The Forbidden Library.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to our on-going effort to staff a table in HUB. I have uploaded some photos of the table to flickr. If anyone else has photos from this week, please tag them "slisfreedomtoread" so we can keep them all together.


100 most frequently challenged books of 1990-2000

Today I want to introduce you to the American Library Association's list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000. After compiling challenged from across the country, they create this list for our enjoyment.

Some of the books on the list won't surprise you at all. For example:
But, there are some that at first glance seem really out of place, like:

James and the Giant Peach was challenged because of it's portrayal of child abuse (among other things - click on the link above to see some of challenges it has faced). At the beginning of the book, James is abused by his two evil aunts who take custody of him after his parents die in a bizarre accident. Though I agree that reading about an abused child is sad, the majority of the book is about his adventures in a giant peach. And, it has a happy ending.

Where's Waldo? has been challenged because of one of its intricately drawn characters - apparently there is a wee tiny little topless sunbather in one of the books.

At the top of the list, there's a great quote by Judy Blume, who is on the list *5* times:
“[I]t's not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. As always, young readers will be the real losers.”

She has a point. People won't write books if they think that they will be banned (it would be a waste of time) and youth have the misfortune of having well meaning parents, teachers and community leaders decide what is appropriate for them. I thank my lucky stars that I was one of the fortunate kids - my parents challenged me to think outside the box, and they weren't afraid of a wee little topless sunbather.

ALA also has a list of the most challenged books between 2000 and 2005, which includes the Harry Potter series and yet another Judy Blume (hmm, I'm starting the get the feeling that I should read some of her books).

Happy Freedom to Read week!!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Freedom to Read week

Happy Freedom to Read week. Please take a moment to check out the Freedom to Read web-site. They have a whole section dedicated to this week as well as a challenged books page which provides a list of 100 books that have been banned or challenged over the past few decades.

Some highlights from the list include the following:

The Bible was challenged in Saskatchewan because it could promote hatred towards homosexuals.

Daddy's Roommate was challenged for being a bad role model for children.

Harry Potter books
have been challenged because it was felt that the witchcraft, wizardry and magic making are inappropriate for young readers.

Of Mice and Men have been challenged for taking God's name in vain numerous times and for having no educational benefit.

Banned Books Challenge

The Pelham Public Library (Fonthill, Ontario) is challenging you to read as many banned books as you can (or want to) between February 26th and June 30th. Not sure what to read? There are almost as many banned books lists as there are banned books. When you visit their blog you can check out the lists that they have compiled of books that have been banned or challenged from 2006 and 2007, as well as many other lists (on the sidebar at the left).

They also have an extensive list of interesting links on the sidebar.

Freedom to read and beyond

This week is Freedom to Read week, the week where we celebrate the ability to read books without censorship.

You might be thinking, "But, Anne, we're in Canada. That doesn't happen here." But, it does. Books are routinely challenged by parents, community leaders, and the customs officers at the border. We may live in a free and democratic society, but that doesn't mean that we don't have to worry about censorship. Many forget that we are a very diverse country - we are home to multiple groups of people with differing religions, values, cultures, and so on. Inevitably, there will be a book that I think is great, but that you think is offensive.

Though I may have the right to access what ever book or intellectual property that I want (assuming that it is not illegal, like child pornography), you have the right to be offended by it and complain about it. The problem lies with giving the people who support the content access to it. While any library would love to be able to make all of its patrons happy, sometimes you have to say no to removing or banning a book just because one person or group finds it offensive. The idea is that if they don't like it, then they don't have to read it.

And, what about outside of Canada. Many countries are very intolerant of content that they find questionable. And, when I say "questionable" I mean anything from comments that are against the beliefs of the prevailing religion (or the religion in power) to comments that offend the leader (heaven forbid someone question a leader's actions). The Guardian recently reported that an Egyptian blogger was jailed for insulting Islam and President Hosni Mubarak. And, it's not just officials who are infringing on peoples freedoms. In a recent IFLA listserv posting, it was reported that (a Chinese portal and blog-hosting service) has been censoring blog posts by bloggers on its system.

These examples may not seem to be directly related to our freedom to read, but if you can't access a blog post or if the creator of the blog is jailed, you lose your right to read what they have to say. Freedom to read is tied directly to freedom of expression.

So, celebrate your right to read whatever you want. Find a book that has been banned or challenged and devour it. Try to guess how many of your favourite books have been banned or challenged somewhere. And, above all, count yourself as being one of the lucky ones - you won't get jailed for calling Stephen Harper a nitwit.

- anne

Banned Book Cafe

This week the Edmonton Public Library will be celebrating Freedom to Read week by hosting a Banned Books Cafe on Thursday night form 7-9PM at the Stanley A Milner branch.

There will be open mic readings of banned/challenged books, and everyone is welcome to take a moment to read a short passage form your favourite banned/challenged book.

I have class on Thursday nights (booo), but I encourage the rest of you to at least show up and support the right to read whatever the heck you want to read.

For more information, see EPL's Banned Books Cafe web-page.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Illegal Art

Illegal art, a digital exhibit/intersection between issues of intellectual property, creativity, and access.

The Illegal Art Exhibit will celebrate what is rapidly becoming the "degenerate art" of a corporate age: art and ideas on the legal fringes of intellectual property. Some of the pieces in the show have eluded lawyers; others have had to appear in court.

Loaded with gray areas, intellectual property law inevitably has a silencing effect, discouraging the creation of new works.

Should artists be allowed to use copyrighted materials? Where do the First Amendment and "intellectual property" law collide? What is art's future if the current laws are allowed to stand? Stay Free! considers these questions and others in our multimedia program. -- Carrie McLaren

Network Neutrality Basics

If you've never heard of the concept of network neutrality before, have a quick look at this informative video hosted by Youtube and produced by

While the video itself is United States centric, the basic concept has transnational applications.

Video: Network Neutrality

After watching the video, you may want to check out the varying high speed services offered by your very own internet service provider!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

More Scrotal Controversy...

Author Neil Gaiman posts his reaction to the school library censorship of Susan Patron's The Higher Power of Lucky. Gaiman sharply, humourously illustrates the absurdity of using the presence or absence of the word "scrotum" to distinguish between quality literature and "other" literature.

He also points to an excellent list of children's literature which also contains the word scrotum. Educational!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

CBC Radio censorship series

"Censor This! is a series of provocative documentaries, news features and interviews that explore some of the issues around music and censorship."

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Another day, another censored book

I would like it to be on the record that despite having a science background, this will be the first time I have ever had the chance to say "scrotum" in a professional setting: scrotum. Tee hee, that was fun!

See here for my brief, but passionate thoughts on the banning of the book "The Higher Power of Lucky".

- anne

Friday, February 16, 2007

Even the LC has intellectual freedom issues

Library Juice posted a long letter about issues at the LC. LC is trying to force the union describe specifics of what people say in the Guild office. This would give them access to who is saying what, which means that Guild members would be less likely to voice their honest opinion and that the LC has access to information which they could use to discriminate against workers (or, at very least labe them as trouble makers).

Anyway, it's an interesting read and reminds us that intellectual freedom issues come attached to our paycheques.
For me, intellectual freedom not only encompasses the right to think and say what you want, but also the right to access information. Access to information is necessary - it gives us the ability to learn and to gather information that could show us the truth.

For those of you who don't know me well, I'm a marine biologist and an animal rights activist (amongst other things). Way back in the good old days of marine biology classes, I learned about seal hunting and why the reasons for allowing seal hunting were flawed. Seals were not the cause of the cod stock collapse, nor were they impeding the recovering of stocks - that was our fault. And, hunters did not rely on seal pelts to survive another year, they could and did make more money with other endeavers. Politicians and hunters just wanted us to think that so that we would feel bad and let them hunt more seals.

These falsities and truths came out because of access to information. However, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is now trying to impede out rights to access information by increasing the observation distance (the distance observers have to be from the hunters). The current distance is 10 metres - DFO wants it to be 20 metres. This poses a problem because it would be very difficult, and at times impossible, to record the hunt. Recording the hunt shows the truth and provides access to information that most people would not have (let's face it, not many people are going to go there for their vacation).

So, observers have to keep their distance from hunters. But, and here is where injustice takes a nasty swing at us, the hunters are not required to keep any distance from observers. A drafted protest letter from the Animal Alliance of Canada states that:

"As a result, observers are regularly physically assaulted on the ice by sealers, charged at on snowmobiles, having their inflatable crafts rammed by sealing boats, etc. The only violence directed at people during the seal hunt is always committed by sealers upon observers."

To add insult to injury, the seal hunt happens in public space and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees us the right to observe and record the hunt.

So, even if you don't care about the seals (tsk!tsk!), you should care about the right to observe, record and access *truthful* information about the seal hunt. As future librarians access to information and peoples rights to the truth are very important, and we need to understand that attacks on these do not always happen within a library context (when was the last time you saw a seal hunt in your local library). As such, sometimes we need to fight the fight outside of the library.

- anne

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Video: "Protecting Privacy, Challenging Secrecy, and Standing Up for the First Amendment" a discussion marking Banned Books week.

My internet connection isn't fast enough to watch it, but I have read a number of blog entries about it and how interesting it is.

Debit instead of cheques

This is neat. People on welfare are getting a change to be able to have better control over their money and not be singled out just because they don't have an account: Debit cards replace Alberta welfare cheques

Friday, February 09, 2007

British Library funding cuts

From Dr Margaret Mackey:

I am sure most of you are aware of the budget cuts the government is proposing to impose on the British Library. According to a press release on the BL website, these cuts may force the library to start charging for users to access the collections (see:

If you think, as I do, that this is a really bad idea - please sign the online petition:

And do tell your friends to sign it too!

According to their website, the BL is actively campaigning against the proposed cuts and Lynne Brindley has asked those who feel strongly about this issue to contact the library and explain "why the British Library is important to you and give us permission to use your letter in our campaign.

Please e-mail with your name, contact number and message, or write to Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB."

So if you have five minutes to spare, do send an e-mail or letter too.

Hate literacy on Google

From our SLIS pres:

Here's a story that's making the rounds. Rock the Vote wanted to commemorate Martin Luther King Day on its website. Unfortunately its webmaster chose to highlight one of the top-ranked Google search results without evaluating the website. The website,, is actually hate literature from white supremacist group StormFront.

The authors of this blog post do discuss what they call Google's "democracy algorithm," the idea that we vote with our clicks. But aside from advising "hate-opponents" to avoid "misguided links," the authors largely ignore the information literacy issue that supercedes the Google issue.

ALA recognizes the need to protect everyone, regardless of nationality

This is over a week old, but it power is timeless:

[Recently] during ALA Council III was passed a Resolution in Support of Immigrants Rights: "Resolved, that ALA strongly supports the protection of each person's civil liberties regardless of that individual's nationality, residency, or status; and be it further resolved that ALA opposes any legislation that infringes on the rights of anyone in the USA (citizen or otherwise) to use library resources on national, state, and local levels."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Baghdad librarian

This is both fascinating and depressing at the same time - Baghdad Day to Day: Librarian’s Journal.

Source: Forwarded to the SLIS listserv by KM

Students rally for access to publically funded research

An interesting article:

February 1, 2007

Campuses declare "National Day of Action" in support of federal legislation

WASHINGTON, DC - February 1, 2007 -, the international student movement for free culture, in collaboration with the Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA), today announced that February 15, 2007 will be a "National Day of Action" for students that support open sharing of scientific and scholarly research findings on the Internet. Events nationwide will highlight the importance of taxpayer access to publicly funded research and rally support for Congressional passage of the Federal Research Public Access Act. The day also marks the fifth
anniversary of the landmark Budapest Open Access Initiative, when the worldwide open access movement first took form, and will be supported by the launch of a new Web resource and petition for public access, produced jointly by and the ATA.

The Federal Research Public Access Act was introduced last year by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and is awaiting reintroduction in the 110th Congress. The bill would require federal agencies that fund over $100 million in annual external research to make manuscripts of peer-reviewed journal articles stemming from that
research publicly available via the Internet. (For further information about the legislation, see http:// It is estimated that approximately half of the research conducted at universities is government funded. and its 36 chapters nationwide joins 72 other members of the ATA, 132 university and college presidents and provosts, and thousands of taxpayers, patients, researchers, and librarians that have voiced support for the legislation.

"Students are researchers, and were among the first groups to recognize the vast benefits of open access," said Gavin Baker, director of's Open Access project and author of a University of Florida student senate resolution in support of the Cornyn-Lieberman public access bill ( "Since many of their professors, advisors, and colleagues have conducted their work with the benefit of federal grants, it makes
sense that this work should be freely circulated and built upon. Students have coordinated their efforts on a national level to formalize their strong belief that public access to research is the way to move forward."

"Improving access to government-funded research results is critical to advancing science," said David Minh, a University of California San Diego graduate student who serves on the coordinating committee for Universities Allied for Essential Medicines. "Public access to research will not only benefit students and researchers in the United States, but will also empower scientists in the developing world - who have far fewer resources available to them - to accelerate the pace of biomedical research, particularly in neglected diseases."

"Students adding their considerable energy and significant weight to the momentum behind the issue is yet another sign of the strength and breadth of support for public access to research results," said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, founder of the ATA). "We encourage universities, libraries, researchers, scholarly societies, patient organizations, and consumer groups to support student researchers in making the National Day of Action a success."

Campuses nationwide will be announcing individual events and support for the National Day of Action in the coming weeks. For more information, please visit the for Taxpayer Access student resource at


The Alliance for Taxpayer Access is a coalition of patient, academic, research, and publishing entities that support free public access to the results of federally funded research and advocate passage of the Federal Research Public Access Act. The Alliance was formed in 2004 to urge that peer-reviewed articles stemming from taxpayer-funded research become fully accessible and available online at no extra cost to the American public. Details on the ATA may be found at

Source: CLA student listserv, forwarded from the SPARC Open Access Forum

Stealing intellectual property

There's a really big problem in Afganistan ... I mean, aside from the whole war and people dying thing. People are stealing museum artifacts and trying to sell them to foreign museums. I'm offended by this, but then I can't help thinking that I'm being a bit hypocritical as a white North American. We've been stealing artifacts for centuries. Both domestically (First Nation art) and internationally (ex, Egyptian artifacts). I remember reading a few years ago about museums taking responsibility for their stolen goods and returning some to their country of origin, but are we doing enough? Should we maybe compensate them for our actions? I don't have the answer, at least in part because I don't really know enough of the facts. But, it's something to think about next time you visit a museum.

Censoring kids computer use in libraries

There's an interesting conversation happening on the library_grrls LiveJournal community about what to do about young girls using library computers to bully others via e-mail. Someone asked what others would recommend and there are some interesting ideas about censorship and how much to censor, etc. It's a bit dry part way down, but I encourage you to read all the way through. The last poster (as of two minutes ago) made some very good points about how if it's not something we would stop adults doing, then we shouldn't stop kids from doing it because we're not their parents.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Feminist speak up

Another good link: Feminists for Free Expression. It's from the U.S., but free expression is free expression no matter where you are. They are feminist 'working to preserve the individual's right to see, hear and produce materials of her choice without the intervention of the state "for her own good."'

Google Earth does good

To many, Google Earth may be nothing but a mapping tool or a fun toy that shows aerial pictures of your house, but to others it's a tool that's essential for Social Activism. Michael Zimmer posted about how Google Earth can help social acivists. It's a couple months old, but interesting nonetheless.

Delete Censorship

This seemed like an appropriate link to fire out what with Freedom to Read week coming up and all: It's a site dedicated to freedom of speech and freedom of press.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

RSS feed for FLIF

Someone asked if we had an RSS feed (we do), so my big task for the night was to login and ad the link to the blog so that everyone who wants to subscribe to us via RSS could just sit back and let their computer do all the checking. And yet, I can't find a quick and dirty means of doing this. I assumed that as RSS is so cool and Google (who runs this blog program) is so with it, it would simply involve adding a page element, choosing a button location, and clicking "OK". Apparently I have to actually make an effort here and ad the button and link myself (sheesh). So, I am going to try and work this out, but in the meantime, if you'd like to subscribe to us, here's the URL my feed aggregator uses:

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Challenged Books in Canada

Freedom to Read Week is just around a month away, and before it arrives you might want to check out (or even read) some books that have been challenged, removed from shelves, and even shredded in Canada.

There are some extremely interesting, provocative, and even surprisingly familiar titles on the list. The list compiler(s) also did an excellent job of providing dates, contextual background, and case-specific details about the "objectionable content" in each book.

And now (for your amusement), Buttercup's Gut Reactions:

Most dubious disbursement of police spending:
Friday, Nancy. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Sexual Fantasies.
In brief: Several metropolitan libraries were searched for this book in two different police raids in two different provinces after the complaint of an anonymous radio talk-show caller makes its way to the Crown attorney’s office!

Unread title that inspired the most "unhealthy" curiousity (for this blogger, in any case):
LeBlanc, Pierre, and Robin Konstabaris. Scrambled Brains.
In brief: “The book includes recipes such as “Exploding Jesus Cake,” a section called “Cooking with Weed,” and one illustration in which a semi-naked man displays an intimate interpretation of roulade, a rolled meat dish usually stuffed with a pickle.”

Suspected of the “censor first, read later” approach:
Sernine, Daniel. Les envoûtements.
In brief: Although the narrative exposes the “bewitchments” as fraudulent, the book is charged with “promoting occultism.”

Most ironic challenge:
Dworkin, Andrea. Pornography: Men Possessing Women and Woman Hating.
In brief: The very book referenced by the Supreme Court of Canada in its interpretation of the landmark Butler/Obscenity case is detained by Canada Customs due to the conflicting interpretations of the judges.

Source: Buttercup, MLIS student

Monday, January 22, 2007

Protest censorship from the comfort of your own blog

You may have noticed that just to the right at the top of this page is a text box labeled "IRREPRESSIBLE.INFO". It's an Amnesty International initiative that lets people add censored material to their blog or web-site as a means of protesting censorship. As they put it:
"Undermine censorship by publishing irrepressible fragments of censored material on your own site."

If you'd like to add the box to your blog/site, go here and choose the size/shape you want, copy the html, and past it in. While there, sign the pledge on Internet Freedom.

If you need help with this, let us know ... I'm sure we can figure it out ... or find someone to figure it out for you :)

Hrant Dink murdered

Here's an Amnesty International news release that discusses the murder of the prominent Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, (editor of the newspaper Agos and contributor to the influential daily Zaman). He was shot in Istanbul on Friday.

Amnesty International believes that "he was targeted because of his work as a journalist who championed freedom of expression."

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The net and you

I thought that some of you might be interested to know that there is a newsletter about the net: "NetFuture: Technology and Human Responsibility". I haven't actually had a chance to do much more then browse through some, but it sounds good:

NetFuture is an electronic newsletter with postings every two-to-four weeks or so. It looks beyond the generally recognized "risks" of computer use such as privacy violations, unequal access, censorship, and dangerous computer glitches. It seeks especially to address those deep levels at which we half-consciously shape technology and are shaped by it. What is half-conscious can, after all, be made fully conscious, and we can take responsibility for it.
Granted, it's been on a rather long hiatus, but hopefully, now that it's finally back, it will publish more regularly.

Canada neutral about Net Neutrality?

An interesting article about the Canadian perspective with regards to net neutrality: "Canada Sleeps Through War to 'Save the Internet'".

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Securing access for the Canadian intellect... past, present, future?

There seems to be some truth in the idea that, at the present time and in the North American context, digital technology has greatly increased access to information for many.

Now I pose an immediate challenge to that goofy, sweeping declaration: will access remain secure--today, tomorrow, ten, one hundred or one thousand years from now?

One moment. We aren't talking about those fleeting moments of post-apocalyptic speculation that I have every once in a while--particularly when guilty of surrending too much autonomy/affection to an electronic gadget!

We are talking about the threat to human knowledge posed by ever-present changes in tech infrastructure, the vulnerable, transitory nature of digital information, and the challenges to preservation initiated by those who place "digital locks" on documents in the form of digital rights management software (DRM).

Surprisingly, the federal government has taken the first step to ensure that some online publications will be preserved--new regulations have been introduced by Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda. Effective January 1, 2007, these regulations create the legal and procedural process by which digital material will be deposited with Library and Archives Canada.

Michael Geist has an excellent article on this development--he discusses the details of the new regulations, how eligible online publications are defined, and the weaknesses of this new regulatory scheme.

A small, but progressive step in the larger struggle to preserve digital information so that future Canadians may think and learn and grow.

Source: Buttercup, MLIS student