Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday Vote-day!

Today is voting day here in Canada, and we're encouraging everyone to go to the polls. Go vote. Now!

Not yet registered? You can register at your local polling stating.
To find your local polling station, use this tool from Elections Canada. The tool will also give you a list of candidates in your riding.

To register at your polling station, you can do a couple things:
  • provide valid ID that shows your name and address

    • on one document, such as a driver's licence

    • on two documents, both with your name and at least one with your address, such as a health card AND a utility bill

  • swear an oath, and have a registered voter vouch for you also under oath

More information on registration can be found here.

Finally, of all the Edmonton-Strathcona candidates we contacted using the CLA's election widget, only Green Party candidate Jane Thrall got back to us in time for election day. She noted that the Greens do not have a specific library policy, but that she herself is library supporter. Ms. Thrall responded to many of those CLA questions, so the rest of her points are directly quoted below.
  • Libraries, along with Universities, are the keepers of public knowledge. Assuch, we have a duty to ensure that they remain open, public, and protected from the attacks of those interested only in maintaining a monopoly on knowledge (read: copyright lawsuits)

  • Libraries should be free to the public. Some jurisdictions in Canada now charge substantial annual fees to obtain library cards (e.g. in Edmonton, it is $12, which is a lot of money when you are on a shoestring). Libraries greatly benefit lower income Canadians, as they prevent knowledge from being the domain of the wealthy, and these are exactly the people least able to afford escalating fees.

  • The Green Party of Canada recognizes that the creators of knowledge need some form of legal protection to ensure that they can profit from their works, but at the same time, we must not allow the pendulum to swing entirely to their side, as this would decimate the library system, and no municipal government would want to take the legal risk of being responsible for such institutions.

  • The Green Party recognizes that many of society's problems can be solved through increased literacy and education, and libraries are crucial to this.

  • Libraries often are the only public places that offer free access to the internet, access that is becoming more and more essential in modern life.

  • Libraries are one of the few remaining "public meeting places" that are physically embodied, rather than some message board on an arbitrary website. As such, they take an essential role in the crossroads of our society.

  • Net Neutrality is an issue that will continue to increase in importance. The government of Canada must ensure that corporate interests to not interfere with the ability of Canadians to communicate over the Internet. The companies that have argued that they must "throttle" internet traffic (Bell, Rogers, Telus) base their arguments around the fact that internet traffic is increasing more rapidly that the Internet's ability to carry it. The Government of Canada has a critical role to play here, encouraging the development of more advanced network infrastructure (communication lines, etc). Canada was an early leader in early days of the net, but government lethargy and inaction has had a definite impact, with Canada's "connectivity" ranking steadily dropping relative to other nations in the developed world.

Thanks for your comments!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

It's still election time, with one week to go until Canadians head to the polling stations to choose a new government.

The Canadian Library Association has created this handy widget that will allow you to easily identify the major party candidates in your riding. Also, it will automatically generate an email for you, asking the candidate(s) to respond to issues of particular concern to libraries and librarians. Provide some basic information, then simply select the candidates to whom you wish to send the message, and submit.

Wondering what our four local major party candidates would say, FLIF sent a message using this widget. Here is the full-text of message sent:

As a student interest group that is actively involved within our library community, FLIF (the Future Librarians for Intellectual Freedom) is writing to you today to find out your position on key issues that the library community is currently facing:

1. The Canadian Library Association (CLA), as well as many Canadians, continues to have growing concerns regarding proposed amendments to the Copyright Act. If elected, will you support the need to introduce copyright legislation that would ensure users’ rights are recognized in balance with the rights of creators and rights holders?

2. Literacy continues to be a top priority for libraries and educational institutions. If elected, will you support the need to implement of a national literacy strategy?

3. The Library Book Rate, a Canada Post service since 1939, provides a reduced rate for mailing library books between libraries and from libraries to their users. If elected, what would you be willing to do to ensure that a reduced rate of postage for library materials is maintained in order to support one million Canadians?

4. Industry Canada’s Community Access Program (CAP) provides Canadians with affordable public access to the Internet and the skills they need to use it effectively. If elected, what would you be willing to do to ensure that CAP stays alive, in order to help Canadians, wherever they live, take advantage of emerging opportunities in the new global knowledge-based economy?

5. Network (Net) Neutrality is the principle that all information or services sent over high-speed internet access should be treated equally, with no degradation or prioritization or privileges based on content, source, ownership or destination of information or service. In 2008, Net Neutrality became a very important issue in Canada. Where do you stand on addressing Net Neutrality?

Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to hearing from you soon at flifblog@gmail.com. You can visit us online at flifblog.blogspot.com

Let's see if we get any responses.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Naomi Klein on the Colbert Report

Author and activist Naomi Klein recently appeared on the Colbert Report to promote her book The Shock Doctrine. She discusses the financial crisis in the States, and the role of government in society.

Video for Canadian viewers here.
(US viewers can see the video on the show's site.)

In a time of political and economic uncertainty, it's good to have a prominent Canadian participating in mainstream discussion. Besides, Naomi is a big fan of librarians and information professionals.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Catching the public's eye

One of our local independent newspapers, Vue Weekly, has recently published a piece on book challenges and censorship.

We don't know what prompted author Carolyn Nikodym to write on this topic, but having these issues in the public eye is a good thing, so we'll take it. In case you missed, here's the link.