It hasn’t gotten any better. Last year about this time, the news was grim with stories about the banning of certain books, political influence on what’s being taught in schools, and rhetorical fist fights on whether library material is appropriate given the subject matter. What little difference a year makes because Freedom to Read Week rises again with more threats against Free Expression.
You might have heard the news about some of the things going on in Florida with the passage of legislation like the “Stop Woke” Act, which has seen entire libraries boxed up at schools, or Gov. Ron DeSantis’ conservative takeover of a small liberal arts college. But this is not a Florida phenomenon, or even an American one. Here in Canada several anti-woke politicians ran for school boards last fall, and the Government of Alberta’s been recently accused of interference at Athabasca University.
So just in time for all this news is Freedom to Read Week, an annual endeavour from the Book and Periodical Council that encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Last year, Shelagh Paterson, the executive director of the Ontario Library Association, joined us to contextualize some of these issues which are still ongoing 12 months later.
So this week we will revisit Paterson’s appearance on the podcast in 2022, and you will hear her 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 again about Freedom Read Week issues in this edition of the Guelph Politicast!
Freedom to Read Week runs from February 19 to 25 this year, 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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Also, when you subscribe to the Guelph Politicast channel and you will also get an episode of Open Sources Guelph every Monday, and an episode of End Credits every Friday.