Freedom of Speech in the Library Workplace

I don’t often blog conference programs, but this is one I want to highlight, in part because I’m hoping that it will generate some papers and activities that will be helpful to people outside the conference and I want to let people know about that possibility.

This is a program that will be being convened by Toni Samek at the Canadian Library Association in Vancouver later this month, called Inside Talk: Freedom of Speech in the Library Workplace. The speakers will be Mitch Freedman, Kathleen de la Peña McCook, Sam Trosow, and Paul Whitney.

ALA affirmed the right of librarians to intellectual freedom on the job, which is great, but despite that affirmation it is something that needs more discussion and advocacy in order to advance. I hope that this program will be helpful outside of Canada and I look forward to hearing about how it went.

2 comments on “Freedom of Speech in the Library Workplace

  1. Re the Inside Talk CLA conference session:

    About 70 people came out, which
    was great for a conference registration of less than 600 and other ovlerapping sessions. I did the intro to contextualize the session, then Mitch spoke, then I read Kathleen’s speech in absentia, then Paul weighed in, then Sam did a closer (partly thru a legal lense). I then made some summary comments and suggestions for future directions.Four or five audience members spoke eloquently at the end (including a librarian from Winnipeg, from Saskatoon, and Alex Y. from CUPE) and this provided interesting and supporting comments in favour of more momentum for workplace speech in libraries. Our session included examples from both US and Canadian perspective and we read aloud ALA’s 2005 Resolution on Workplace Speech and encourgaged the room of people to help build discussion about whether CLA should adopt a sister resoultion and wether or not a day may come when CLA opts to censure libraries that do not hold up its values. We acknowledged that ALA’s Resolution is a persuasion and consenus building tool, but does not reflect enforcement autority in libraries. Progressive Librarian is soon to publish Kathleen’s words and I will be will be contributing a special guest editorial of 1000-1200 words to contextulize the session and its aims. This will then create an historical record to put the session on the books. Many thanks to the session speakers and to the folks that came out. Special thanks to the students in attendance!!


  2. Regarding “Freedom of Speech in the Library Workplace,” what does the recent Hartford Public Library, Hartford, CT, USA, tell us? Here are various links regarding the Hartford Public Library story. To make a long story short, the library workplace at that library did not tolerate certain speech, resulting in librarians and their union AFSCME 1716 having to go public with their complaints.

    Adamson v. Minneapolis Public Library is another such case.

    Is there freedom of speech in the library workplace if librarians are forced to go public to get attention?

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