Sunday, January 27, 2013

Human Library Events Recap

Local libraries and other centres across Canada, in partnership with the CBC, hosted a number of Human Library events on Saturday January 26. Events took place in Yellowknife, Surrey, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Windsor, Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, and St. John's. In Edmonton, the event took place at the Stanley A. Milner branch of the Edmonton Public Library. The Edmonton Journal has written an article about the event and includes the perspectives of the “books” as well as the “readers.” An associate manager of Stanley A. Milner was also quoted, describing the purpose and importance of the event:
“An event like this provides people with the opportunity to have a conversation with a person they might not otherwise meet and to help them understand the world, maybe, in a different way.”
The CBC hosted live webcam chats with a variety of Canadians: Susan Ormiston, Measha Brueggergosman, Robert Munsch, Shad, Grace Park, Margaret Trudeau, and Tammy Marquardt. A recording of the sessions is available from the CBC.

Sweater Vest Sunday

Today is also Sweater Vest Sunday! Raise awareness of the need to report challenged material to the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) by wearing a sweater vest. Visit the OIF Blog to find out more about Sweater Vest Sunday and how you can show your support.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

MLK Video Removed on Internet Freedom Day

Internet Freedom Day was celebrated worldwide on Friday January 18th. A website was created to provide suggestions on how to promote the occasion and spread awareness of the need for an open and accessible Internet. One of the actions suggested on this site is to share a copyrighted video on the Internet:
Engage in a small act of civil disobedience and share this video of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech. Dr. King’s call for racial justice is as relevant today as it was in 1963. Because this speech is copyrighted, if SOPA had passed, entire websites could have been shut down just for linking to it. This speech is too important to be censored by broken copyright laws. Please share it today.
As an article by the Washington Post has pointed out, Internet activists posted the video of the speech to Vimeo. However, Vimeo removed the video after only a few hours. Digital Trends has reported that the video was removed because it violated the Vimeo terms of service. The footage contained in the video is currently owned by EMI Publishing.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Remembering Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz was found dead at his Brooklyn apartment yesterday in an apparent suicide. At only 26, Swartz has a long list of achievements. A Wired article outlines his chief accomplishments:
When he was 14 years old, Aaron helped develop the RSS standard; he went on to found Infogami, which became part of Reddit. But more than anything Aaron was a coder with a conscience: a tireless and talented hacker who poured his energy into issues like network neutrality, copyright reform and information freedom.  Among countless causes, he worked with Larry Lessig at the launch of the Creative Commons, architected the Internet Archive’s free public catalog of books,, and in 2010 founded Demand Progress, a non-profit group that helped drive successful grassroots opposition to SOPA last year.
A section of the Official Statement from his partner and family reminds us of his profound impact on promoting social justice and intellectual freedom:
Aaron’s commitment to social justice was profound, and defined his life. He was instrumental to the defeat of an Internet censorship bill; he fought for a more democratic, open, and accountable political system; and he helped to create, build, and preserve a dizzying range of scholarly projects that extended the scope and accessibility of human knowledge. He used his prodigious skills as a programmer and technologist not to enrich himself but to make the Internet and the world a fairer, better place. His deeply humane writing touched minds and hearts across generations and continents. He earned the friendship of thousands and the respect and support of millions more.
Swartz was facing a federal jury trial to begin on April 1, 2013 for 13 felony charges. The charges stemmed from his alleged actions related to downloading four million JSTOR articles from MIT. The prosecutors called these actions stealing and believe that he intended to share the articles on file-sharing sites and peer-to-peer networks. If convicted of the charges, Swartz could have been fined up to $1 million and faced up to 35 years in prison.

To learn more about Aaron Swartz, see the recent CBC News and New York Times articles. Information about the Internet activism he was involved in can be found at the Demand Progress website.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Human Library at EPL on January 26

The Canadian National Human Library Day will be taking place this year on January 26. According to the CBC Edmonton Human Library event page,
National Human Library Day is a one-day event hosted by CBC and local libraries across the country, that provides an opportunity for one-on-one conversation between people who may have never meet otherwise in an effort to facilitate understanding and help dispel stereotypes. People from various walks of life, including CBC personalities, will volunteer their time as “living books.” Members of the public will have a chance to “check out” a “book” and ask questions to learn about the person and his, or her, unique or inspiring life.
The Edmonton event will be taking place at the Edmonton Public Library (EPL) Stanley A. Milner branch from 10 AM to 6 PM on Saturday January 26, 2013. At last count, 16 individuals from a variety of backgrounds had volunteered to be living books. However, 2 of the living books are “bestselling” in that they have already been fully reserved due to high demand. Living books may be reserved at the EPL website.

For more information on the Human Library initiative and other Human Libraries across the globe, visit the HUMAN Library website.