Olympic Living Library

A couple of years ago I heard about Scandinavian libraries where you could “check out” a person and talk to them about their life. It seemed like an interesting way for people to develop empathy for people who are not like themselves.

The living library concept has been adopted by libraries all over the world. The hope is that the information passed on by a human book will help counter ignorance, prejudice and discrimination.

The living library concept has been incorporated into the Olympic homeless pavilion. This pavillion has been set up to explain the poverty in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to journalists, spectators and tourists from around the world. Visitors can listen to a Real Homeless Person from the Downtown Eastside talk about their experiences. I agree with the Vancouver Sun article that argues that this idea is contrived.

Nobody needs publicity shots of smiling politicians, pre-canned 200-word testimonials or human books to find out about life in the city’s poorest neighbourhood.

You just need to go outside.

The homeless and destitute still fill our streets. And they will be there in their unnatural habitat, whether you like it or not, for the world to see, during the Games.

I am angry and frustrated that so much money has been spent on a spectacle, while there have been cuts to social services like education, libraries, and legal aid. The homeless need homes, not to be books in a living library.

“Just a little piece of tape”: VPL Marketing Director clarifies rules about non-Olympic sponsor logos

from greenpeanut on flickr

A couple of days ago   The Tyee reported that VPL’s Marketing and Communications Manager Jean Kavanagh’s sent a memo in November 2009 to   staff outlining rules about branding and logos of non-Olympic sponsors. The quote that stuck in my head was Kavanagh’s advice to stick a little piece of tape to cover a non-sponsor logo:

The same care (about non-sponsor logos and brands) must be taken for audio-visual equipment. The branch should try to get devices made by official sponsor Panasonic. Should staff only be able to find Sony equipment, the solution is simple. “I would get some tape and put it over the ‘Sony,’” Kavanagh said. “Just a little piece of tape.”

Her email to staff she explains that:

We cannot ever use the VANOC logo. The City as Host City can use the Games marks in conjunction with the City logo but we must obtain permission to do so every time we want to use them. All such requests must be sent to me and I forward the request to our City VANOC liaison.  If you want to insert any VANOC branding/photos with posters/materials we also must obtain approval. I have a good sense of what gets approved so please talk to me before work is started on such materials.

There are also strict rules for using logos/branding of Games sponsors so again please contact me with any ideas before things get underway. The Library doesn’t really deal with the major sponsors, but if for example a branch was involved in a Host A City Happening event and a local Bank of Montreal wanted to sponsor it we would have to say no. The Royal Bank is the official banking sponsor. Some branches may have an opportunity to participate in torch relay activities and all these rules will apply then. Information about the torch relay will be available in the new year.

Kavanagh’s memo outlines several potential branding conflicts and proposes

For example, do not have Pepsi or Dairy Queen sponsor your event. Coke and McDonald’s are the Olympic sponsors. If you are planning a kids’ event and approaching sponsors, approach McDonald’s and not another well-known fast-food outlet.

If you have a speaker/guest who happens to work for Telus, ensure he/she is not wearing their Telus jacket as Bell is the official sponsor.

If you have rented sound equipment and it is not Panasonic or you can’t get Panasonic, cover the brand name with tape or a cloth.

If you are approaching businesses in your area for support and there is a Rona and Home Depot, go to Rona. If there’s only a Home Depot don’t approach them as Rona is the official sponsor. Try other small businesses

VPL has a Sponsorship Policy that outlines the principles of the library:

Vancouver Public Library is a cornerstone of the community. Sponsorships must not undermine the integrity of the non-commercial public space that the Library provides. In developing sponsorship arrangements the Library will:

  1. not compromise the public service objectives and practices of the Library or of the sponsored event, service, programmes or activity;
  2. protect its principle of intellectual freedom and equity of access to its programmes, services, and collections;…

Download the VPL memo

Media links

The Tyee: Librarians Told to Stand on Guard for Olympic Sponsors

CTV Olympics site: Library asked to cover up non-sponsors’ logos during Games

Posted in freedom of information, policies Tagged: corporate sponsorship, non-commercial space, olympics, public, public library, vancouver public library, vpl

Artist argues new Vancouver Olympic bylaws affect freedom of speech

from Kimberly Bakers Olympics series

from Kimberly Baker's Olympics series

Over breakfast today I read an article in the Georgia Straight about Kimberly Baker‘s intent to challenge the changes Vancouver City council has approved to be in line with the federal Bill C-47, the federal Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act.

According to a City of Vancouver administrative report, the amendments are necessary to allow the city to remove graffiti and ‘illegal signs’ from private property without notice.   The City can also fine repeat offenders up to $10,000/day.

Kimberly Baker’s artist statement on the Olympics series says:

My intention within this work is to create a visual narrative that can address controversial social / political intersections within our contemporary world so as to encourage public awareness and engage dialogue.

The Straight article states that City councillor Heather Deal insisted that the charter amendments are not meant to stifle free expression.

I think that this is not good for art, free expression, or democracy.   Bill C-47 scared me, but the knock on effect on municipal and provincial legislation scares and worries me even more.

Thanks to Brian Campbell for sending this to BCLA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee and Information Policy listervs, to Annelle Harmer who directed me to that-artist-who-might-have-been-an-Emily-Carr-student-who-makes anti-Olympic-art’s website and for helping me find “that book that’s about this big, that is red”, and to the friendly City of Vancouver staffer who helped me find the Council agenda, report, and minutes.

Posted in policies Tagged: bc, bylaws, freedom of speech, olympics, public, vancouver