open medicine

One of my favourite sessions at the PKP Scholarly Publishing Conference was Dr. Anita Palepu speaking about the history of Open Medicine. This is a prime example where intellectual freedom and information policy issues (like open access) connect. The abstract says the session:

Presents the experience of founding a new independent open access medical journal in the wake of a controversial instance of editorial interference and suspension of academic freedom that had resulted in the firing of the Canadian Medical Association Journals editors, followed by the resigning of the remaining editors and board.

She was a really engaging speaker, but her energy doesn’t come across very well on the mp3 recording. You can view her slides and listen to her presentation here.

geoff berner


when i was in library school we did an exercise on what to do when an item is challenged. the role play was based on items that had been challenged in lower mainland libraries. we were given an item along with the reasons that the patron gave for wanting the item banned or reclassified. the item that my group got was geoff berner‘s CD whiskey rabbi because of the song lucky god damn jew. someone thought the song was antisemitic and should be banned from the library. his bio states that he is Jewish and sometimes sings about how “suffering has not ennobled the Jewish people above the rest of humanity”:

Ià ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢m a lucky God damn Jew, Lucky God damn Jew,
Ià ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢m a lucky God damn Jew, Lucky God damn Jew.
Lucky! Lucky! All the time! Now I’ve got my own country,
Where I am free to persecute People with less luck than me.

you can listen to this song for yourself. another timely favourite of mine is the rich are going to move to the high ground.

according to his bio he wants “to drag klezmer music kicking and screaming back into the bars”. a folk fest favourite of mine, he’s playing this saturday night at the railway club. wanna go?

filters suck. and they don’t work.

i just caught the tail end of an interview on CBC radio’s Search Engine with Tom Wood, the 16 year old Australian who hacked the $84 million porn filter created by the Australian government in about 30 minutes.

download this episode, the interview with Tom is from 15:00 to 19:13.

this makes me laugh, even though i don’t play WoW (the original song is from Avenue Q):

Persepolis–the movie!

Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi, is one of my favourite graphic novels. I love her art and all the strong, and dynamic, female characters. This book is available at almost 30 public libraries (and at some academic libraries too)–so if you haven’t read it, it shouldn’t be that hard to get your hands on a copy.

Persepolis the movie (erm…animated film if you prefer won the Prize of the Jury at the Cannes Film Festival 2007. I’m loving the song.

scrotum is just another word for sac

After reading many articles (New York Times Books,, American Libraries) on the hullabaloo about The Higher Power of Lucky, I finally was able to get my hands on a copy of the book and read it for myself. In case you missed the kerfuffle, the word “scrotum” is one of the words that Susan Patron uses in this Newbery award winning book. Some people, including librarians, really took issue with that. As a local librarian said, “scrotum is just another word for sac”.

I loved the book. I especially loved the protagonist Lucky, who is a spunky, confident and intelligent 10-year old girl. I also enjoyed the story and the writing. Some school librarians in the US said that it is not quality literature. This argument is used to censor through selection.

Here’s a short video with an interview with Susan Patron, who is also a children’s librarian. Neil Gaiman is quoted at the beginning:

I’ve decided that librarians who would decline to have a Newbery book in their libraries because they don’t like the word scrotum are not real librarians (who I love unconditionally).

I think they are rogue librarians who have gone over to the dark side.

The Asylum Street Spankers sing a song called The Scrotum Song. I think it’s pretty funny (and a bit rude too), enjoy!

ain`t on the globe and mail bestseller list

I first got involved with the intellectual freedom committee (IFC) by presenting on the Ain`t on the G&M panel at the BCLA conference.

Here`s the rationale behind presenting lesser known materials, often from small independent publishers (from the IFC page):

For the past three years, members of the BCLA Intellectual Freedom Committee and other librarians committed to building diverse collections in public libraries gave an introduction to the value of seeking quirky, less-mainstream and less-hyped materials for patrons. In this session, books, DVDs and videos are introduced at breakneck speed! None of the materials will ever appear on a bestseller list or as an Oprah pick, but we believe the public library has a much more important function than just providing commercially-driven materials.

Here are the lists from 2007, 2006 and 2005–does your library have many of these books?


one of my goals for the summer was to read the protocols of the elders of zion.A   i want to try and read the original text of books that i know i will find difficult and objectionable, sorta like putting my intellectual freedom money where my mouth is, or something like that.

unfortunately work has eaten up most of the summer, and i haven’t even finished harry potter.A   the only good thing about the vancouver public library strike is that i’ve had the last HP for 6 weeks.

a sweet friend showed me this on the youtubes, it’s pretty catchy:

no-bake sale



At the BCLA conference this April we ran a no-bake sale with the Information Policy Committee to raise awareness and money for the Little Sister’s Defense Fund. We asked conference participants to make a donation for a brochure that explained the history of the Canadian Boarder Services Agency’s ongoing seizures of books bound for Vancouver’s famous queer book store. This has been going on for over 20 years.

Not only did we have a great time, dressing up in pink wigs and vintage aprons, but we raised $420 in just 2 hours.

We were also successful in passing a motion at the AGM for the BCLA Executive to send letters to the Minister of Justice and opposition party critics to affirm that people need access to legal resources to be able to challenge government policy. Letters will also be sent to the Minister of Public Safety and opposition party critics to request the Minister to instruct Canadian Boarder Services Agency to stop censoring.