Monday, March 15, 2010

Quick link of the day: Textbooks in Texas

via the New York Times:

"Even as a panel of educators laid out a vision Wednesday for national standards for public schools, the Texas school board was going in a different direction, holding hearings on changes to its social studies curriculum that would portray conservatives in a more positive light, emphasize the role of Christianity in American history and include Republican political philosophies in textbooks."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Chilean Libraries Update

On February 27th, one of the most powerful earthquakes in history devastated a large part of Chile. The earthquake and 150 aftershocks affected six regions in the country, killing almost 300 individuals and impacting over 2 million people.

In the aftermath, many libraries have been damaged or destroyed. Early reports indicate that nearly 50% of Chile's libraries have been damaged, and six completely destroyed.

However, the news is not all bad. 133 public libraries have been able to restore their services. At the same time, of the 154 remaining libraries in the affected areas, no communication has been established with some, others remain closed or used as temporary headquarters for Municipal services, and many others have suffered structural damage.

In the wake of the disaster, Internet access is vital to Chileans seeking contact with friends and family. The BiblioRedes Program is Chile's largest network of free access to Internet, where the public library in one of every three communes is the only free access point for Internet. According to Gloria Perez Salmaron, Chair of Catalan Library Association, who has had direct communication with library staff in Chile, the employees of the public library maintain their conviction to help others and insist that these gathering spaces for the community should be included in the priority for reconstruction, such as hospitals, housing and roads. Reestablishing the BiblioRedes Program is a crucial part of the reconstruction process.

The American Library Association's Chile Library Relief group offers ways for you to donate to library relief efforts in Chile. Click here for more information.

image of the Biblioteca Pelluhue, San Javier, Chile from ALA Chile Library Relief Group.

Broward County Libs Offering Free Communication to Haiti

Broward County Libraries in Florida are offering free telephone and Internet access to Haiti over the next 30 days, as well as access to agencies assisting in relief efforts.

Library Journal reports: "Additional computers and data and phone lines have been installed at North Lauderdale Saraniero Library, Pompano Beach Branch, and Tamarac Branch, where study rooms have been converted into information access centers. During this 30-day period, customers can place free, ten-minute phone calls to Haiti at the three libraries. Toll-free 800-number service is also provided at no charge, as are Internet connections. AT&T is reporting that, despite the devastation to Haiti’s infrastructure, 30 percent to 40 percent of phone calls are getting through."

Visit the Broward County Haiti Relief Task Force on Facebook to read more about relief efforts in Florida.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Petition Jason Kenney for Equal Rights

Jason Kenney, the Canadian Minister for Citizenship and Immigration, blocked references to LGBTTI rights in a new study guide for immigrants released last November. Kenney is known for opposing same-sex marriage when it is debated in Parliament.

Recently, news of Kenney's action has become public. Documents reveal that Kenney omitted references to Canada’s decriminalization of homosexual sex and recognition of same-sex marriage rights, despite advice from his senior department officials. Earlier drafts of the guide contained these references. Visit the Canadian Union of Public Employee's website to sign an online petition against these actions.

Let's all tell Jason Kenney that Canadians strongly believe in the importance of the fundamental freedoms and rights outlined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The message to Kenney is as follows:

"I am writing to condemn your decision to remove all references to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans rights from Canada’s new guide for immigrants released last November.

The booklet provides immigrants applying for Canadian citizenship with information about Canada and why our country is a great place to live and work for everyone, especially members of the LGBTTI community.

As a representative of our federal government, you have a responsibility to uphold the rights of all Canadians as guaranteed under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter specifically mentions freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

I demand that all references to these rights be put back into the guide and further that your department proudly promote the importance of these rights to citizenship applicants."


Happy International Women's Day!

Today, March 8, 2010, is International Women's Day. The theme this year is "Equal rights, equal opportunities: Progress for all," and events are happening throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements: "A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women's craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more" (from site). Unfortunately, very little appears to be happening in Edmonton to celebrate, but that won't stop us from celebrating in smaller ways, perhaps by reading some Emma Goldman, Valerie Solanas, and Simone de Beauvoir!

Check out the time line over at Feminists For Choice.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

"Library of Humans"

Though many detractors have found the idea of lending out human beings as "living library" items essentialist and reductive, the concept is catching on in many libraries across Canada. Just recently, due to trademark issues, the Living Library project changed its name to The Human Library. On March 5th, Macleans covered Guelph University's Human Library project:

"When Chris Langley volunteered to help out with a project at his university library last year, he didn’t imagine he’d wind up becoming a book. The 25-year-old master’s student was intrigued by the notion of a human library, a space in which prospective readers scheduled half-hour time slots with real people and engaged in direct conversations about prejudice."

Read it here.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Freedom to Read Week Follow-up

Another Amazing Freedom to Read Week!
A Banned Books Cafe, a Freedom Ball, the release of banned books all over the city, and students promoting intellectual freedom to the University Campus - it's been a busy and fun Freedom To Read Week! Highlights included Toni Samek's stirring talk at the Banned Books Cafe at the downtown public library and a brave and funny kid taking the podium to openly voice his dislike of Charlotte's Web. A performance by Latino social justice rappers, the People's Poets, at the Freedom Ball was especially poignant in light of the unfortunate events befalling Chile. Created by Edmontonians, art, postcards, and posters about intellectual freedom were displayed in the beautiful new Art Gallery of Alberta.

On campus, the Canadian Library Association Student Chapter and the Future Librarians for Intellectual Freedom promoted Freedom to Read Week to the wider campus community. A display of banned and challenged books drew the attention of many curious passers-by, and we shared many amazing dialogues from a variety of perspectives on intellectual freedom issues. There were even some impromptu live readings from banned books! (thanks M!) We raised a record setting $200.00 in donations that will go toward the Greater Edmonton Library Association's Prison Project Subcommittee's innovative initiatives at the Edmonton Institution for Women. It's been a busy and inspiring week, and big thanks to everyone who helped out at the table or stopped by to chat with us in HUB Mall.


photo credit: T. Forman & M. Cooper

Friday, March 05, 2010

Death of the Book?

We don't think so! Read this surprising article in the Times on how books outnumber games on iPhones.