Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Deconstructing the LAC Code of Conduct

Thanks to those of you who have signed the Don't Muzzle Librarians and Archivists petition on Please take a moment to look at this petition if you have not yet had a chance to.

It is discerning that the LAC Code of Conduct was created by Dr. Daniel Caron, the Librarian and Archivist of Canada. It is notable that while Dr. Caron holds this title, he is not qualified or educated as a librarian or archivist as he does not hold an MLIS degree. The LAC has seen sweeping changes under Dr. Caron's direction which will have a detrimental impact on all Canadians.

It is important to consider the implications these changes may have down the road with respect to our nation, national bibliography, potential censorship, and control in terms of the collective identity and memory of Canada. For example, a legal deposit of all expressions are now being selected according to a narrow view of our history. The Toronto Star has an informative article on this issue. Further information on the state of Library and Archives Canada is available from the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) at

The LAC Code of Conduct has a section outlining the political activities which staff members may engage in:
“4.4.3 Political activities
Public servants have the right to engage in political activity as long as it does not impair and is not perceived to impair their ability to perform their duties in a politically impartial manner. LAC employees who are considering involvement in political activity should seek the advice of the LAC Delegated Political Activities Representative before taking any action. The Delegated Political Activities Representative will assess the file and liaise with the Public Service Commission of Canada (PSC) as necessary to ensure that the employee’s request is processed for the PSC’s approval. PSC approval is required before an employee undertakes any activity relating to political activity and/or seeks nomination for or is a candidate in a federal, provincial, territorial or municipal election.” (p. 17)
Does this mean LAC staff should give up any hopes of being a Liberal, PQ, or NDP candidate as this nomination is directly in conflict of values and ethics? This seems unconstitutional and highly imposing on our freedom  of thoughts and political affiliations. Please share any thoughts in the comments section of this post.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Petition: Don't Muzzle Librarians and Archivists

Q with Jian Ghomeshi's opening essay on Library and Archives Canada is a wake up call for us to take action. We cannot talk about the muzzle on scientists anymore. It is a done deal. We need to sign this petition, Don't Muzzle Librarians and Archivists, on before it is too late.

An Open Letter to The Honourable James Moore

March 23, 2013

The Honourable James Moore, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages
15 Eddy Street
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0M5

Dear Minister Moore:

We are deeply concerned and surprised by the directives in Library and Archives Canada’s new “Code of Conduct: Values and Ethics”. This Code infringes on the civil liberties of our fellow librarians and archivists as embodied in our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as their national professional codes, values, and ethics as stated in Canadian Library Association’s position statement on Intellectual Freedom.

While you have stated that the responsibility for introducing this code rested with Dr. Caron, the Librarian and Archivist of Canada, this code is clearly driven by and derived from the “Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector” that your government introduced in 2012. While the government claims to operate at arms length from Library and Archives Canada, this code is a clear imposition of government policy on this institution.

Librarians and archivists are citizens, having the fundamental right to freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression, including freedom of the press and other media communication, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of association. They are also scholars who make important and significant contributions to research and the body of knowledge. The new Code, under the contentious Section 4, Conflict of Interests and Ensuing Terms of Personal Activities, denies Library and Archives Canada employees the fundamental rights to express themselves, to engage with associations, to teach, and to speak at conferences.

If the same values and ethics were to apply to all civil servants, such as politicians, it would therefore be impossible for any civil servant to comment or speak publicly in any conferences, institutions, press, and various platforms, as these, under the conditions of the new Code, would also be considered as potential high risks and conflicts of interest.

This new Code is directly in opposition to the federal “Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector” that Prime Minister Harper espouses: respect for democracy, people, integrity, stewardship, and excellence. The government’s blatant lack of respect on all points is apparent in this draconian new Code, which implies mistrust for this noble profession.

Librarians and archivists follow the Canadian Library Association code and have the “basic responsibility for the development and maintenance of intellectual freedom. Both employees and employers in libraries have a duty, in addition to their institutional responsibilities, to uphold these principles”. This core value in librarianship is an indication of its integrity. This is a profession that serves the public good in an effort to support a healthy and open democratic society for all Canadian citizens. Librarians and archivists cannot complete such responsibilities without intellectual freedom themselves.

They cannot exhibit respect for democracy and people when they are denied this respect. They cannot uphold integrity, stewardship, and excellence when sweeping government policies prevent them from doing so.

As you publicly stated in the media, you practice “at arm’s length” to Library and Archives Canada’s policymaking. As specified in the “Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector”, we urge you to play a “critical role” that your position as a minister precludes, “… responsible for preserving public trust and confidence in the integrity of public sector organizations and for upholding the tradition and practice of a professional non-partisan federal public sector.” We urge you to engage in a dialogue with Dr. Caron, and revise the Code.


Future Librarians for Intellectual Freedom

Are librarians the new threat?

Last week, Munro's article exposed a chilling new Code of Conduct for Library and Archives Canada (LAC) employees. LAC identified librarians and archivists as "dedicated professionals, ...seeking and sharing knowledge" in their statement of principles. However, the treatment of such committed staff is not aligned with these principles. LAC employees are restricted from teaching and presenting at conferences as these are considered "high risks" activities.

Are librarians and archivists the new threat and in need of muzzling? Will demanding a "duty of loyalty" mitigate this perceived threat? Interesting concerns raised in this video:

Andrew Cash, Member of Parliament for Davenport and NDP Deputy Heritage Critic, asks Heritage Minister James Moore about the muzzling of civil servants at Library and Archives Canada during Question Period on March 18, 2013

Listen to Myron's critique on As It Happens on the chilling effects or follow his blog, Bibliocracy for further insights to LAC Code of Conduct.

More information:

British Columbia Library Association's Press Release - March 20, 2013.

Canadian Library Association's statement urges revisiting LAC Code of Conduct.

Wojtek Gwiazda of Radio Canada International interviews James Turk, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (14 minutes and 11 seconds). James Turk discusses the problematic sections of "duty to loyalty" and "high risks"in the code.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Chicago Public Schools Remove Copies of Graphic Novel Persepolis

Many news outlets have reported on the removal of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis from Chicago Public Schools (CPS). According to American Libraries, though the CPS CEO initially asked for copies of the graphic novel to be removed from both classrooms and libraries, the decision was quickly revised to include just classrooms. Even though the school libraries may retain their copies of Persepolis, some library organizations have criticized the decision to remove the graphic novel from schools. Barbara Jones, the Director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom and Executive Director of the Freedom to Read Foundation, has written a letter to the decision-makers, urging them to reconsider their decision. In addition, the Freedom to Read Foundation has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for information from the CPS regarding the removal of Persepolis.

The Chicago Public Libraries has published a press release regarding this issue, explaining that the title has been singled out for “strong” content including torture.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Toronto Public Library to Introduce Ads to Back of Due-Date Slips

A move by the Toronto Public Library (TPL) connects with the discussion of issues concerning library funding, particularly concerning sponsorship and advertising in libraries, as well as library neutrality. According to the Toronto Star, library due-date slips will feature advertisements on the back of the paper by the end of the month or early next month. This is a six-month pilot project that will save the library approximately $20,000.

Only a handful of advertisers have committed to the project, including “a newspaper, a continuing education institution, and a cultural production”. It is noted that advertisements targeting children will not be permitted. The full TPL Advertising Policy is available online.

Nonprofit Quarterly has produced an article which contains more information on the TPL initiative as well as the advertising initiatives of other public libraries in the United States.