Freedom to Read Week is a chance to talk about issues of censorship and free expression, especially in the context of what we can read and access at our local and school libraries. There’s been a lot of back and forth in the news lately about what young people should be allowed to read, or not, in their school library, so for this podcast, we got the biggest librarian we could find.
To mark Freedom to Read Week 2022, we’re joined by Shelagh Paterson, the executive director of the Ontario Library Association. In the last month, there have been two big stories in the news about the content of school libraries. The first was about a graphic novel removed by a Tennessee school board for reasons not related to the narrative. The other was closer to home, with allegations of transphobia for a school board delegation about appropriate books for kids.
These are the ideal conditions for this year’s commemoration of Freedom to Read Week. A project from the Book and Periodical Council, Freedom to Read Week is an annual event that encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That’s the logline, but what about the practical reality when it comes to what books go into libraries, and who gets to make the decision?
Paterson will join us to talk answer that, and other questions. She will talk about the meaning of intellectual freedom and freedom of expression, as well as censorship, and how we can deal with the misinformation and disinformation landscape without censorship. Paterson will also talk about how not all libraries are created equally, the digital divide in terms of access to information, and the other kinds of barriers that should remind us that not everyone’s access to information is equal.
So let’s talk about Freedom Read Week issues in this edition of the Guelph Politicast!
Freedom to Read Week runs all next week from February 20 to 26, and you can find all sorts of materials here. You can also click here to learn more about the Ontario Library Association. If you want to cut out the proverbial middle man, you can visit your local branch of Guelph Public Library, and they can probably point you in the right direction of some challenging materials.
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