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Category: Advocacy

Letter of Concern sent to Pembina Trails School Division

Posted in Advocacy

February 19, 2024

To the Board of Trustees of the Pembina Trails School Division:

The Manitoba Library Association (MLA) would like to address concerns in relation to the 2024-25 draft budget proposed for the school division.

In the “Draft Budget 2024/25 At A Glance” document it is stated that the Division’s Board has added 58.5 FTE teaching positions. However, the additional FTE positions have come by redeploying “internal resources” into classrooms, which includes redeploying middle years and senior years teacher-librarians.

MLA recognizes that the Pembina Trails School Division finds itself, alongside many other school divisions throughout Manitoba, in a difficult financial position due to years of inadequate provincial funding and imposed restrictions for raising revenue through local property taxation rates. However, the MLA is concerned that in deciding to redeploy teacher-librarians into classrooms, many of whom only work part-time or half-time hours, that student access to needed library resources and services will be adversely affected.

The teacher-librarian role in schools is crucial for student success as this specialized role provides schools with a trained staff member who is effectively able to manage curriculum-supported materials within the respective library space and who is able to provide direct supports in the form of reader’s advisory services, information literacy training, and fostering research and information technology skills.

The MLA strongly encourages the Division to reconsider the redeployment of teacher-librarians into classrooms, as we believe this decision will only create negative outcomes for students by depriving them of access to needed library resources and services.

Richard Bee, MLIS
Manitoba Library Association
Director-at-Large, Advocacy

De véritables outils démocratiques – un article dans La Liberté

Posted in Advocacy, en français, Intellectual Freedom, and Media

“Dans le sud du Manitoba, des résidents avaient fait circuler plusieurs pétitions dont une au mois de juillet afin de retirer des livres d’éducation sexuelle de la bibliothèque publique South Central Regional Library. Après plusieurs mois de réflexion, le Conseil municipal a décidé de faire passer une résolution afin que deux membres du Conseil et administrateurs du CA de la bibliothèque exercent une influence pour élaborer une politique au sujet des critères de classement des livres.”

De véritables outils démocratiques

 

Letter of concern sent to the Canadian Anti-Hate Network

Posted in Advocacy, and Intellectual Freedom

September 4, 2023

Good day,                                                                                              

Manitoba Library Association has been following calls for censorship across a number of Manitoba public and school libraries for several months. South Central Regional Library, Louis Riel School Division, Prairie Rose School Division, and Brandon School Division seem to be especially targeted by groups espousing hatred of the LGBTQIA+ community. 

On August 28, 2023, with respect to continuing book challenges in school libraries, Trustees of the Brandon School Division were served Action4Canada “Notices of Personal Liability”, as reported by the Brandon Sun: Trustees served ‘notices of liability’ – Brandon Sun.  Kathy Smitzniuk, Brandon Resident, noted “With assistance of Action4Canada, we presented a stack of notices of liabilities signed by Brandon residents to the Brandon School Division officer for distribution to six of the trustees”.

Manitoba Library Association has since observed Action4Canada’s broader “call to action” on their social media pages calling on men to serve such notices to teachers and principals during return to fall classes. Hyperlinks are available and a screenshot of the Twitter page is also attached. https://action4canada.com/back-to-school-call-to-action-1/ https://x.com/action4canada/status/1697788691777802434?s=46&t=d_IipjSsH9XWm5lvzAGVsg

Canadian Federation of Library Associations (of which Manitoba Library Association is a member) has recognized that such notices appear to be an intimidation tactic. CFLA Issues Guidance on Responding to “Notices of Personal Liability” – news (librarianship.ca)

In the context of such notices being so recently being delivered to School Board Trustees in Brandon, Manitoba Library Association is concerned that this “call to action” incites a broader campaign of overt bigotry towards the LGBTQIA+ community and targeted harassment towards those working in school environments in the Brandon School Division, elsewhere in Manitoba, and indeed throughout Canada.

Recognizing the Canadian Anti-Hate Network as a leader in monitoring hate groups in Canada, and a resource our organization has looked to for reliable information, we wanted to share these concerns with you.

Yours sincerely, 

Melanie Sucha, MLIS (she/her)

Past-President, Manitoba Library Association

Download the Election Toolkit 2023 – today!

Posted in Advocacy

It’s time to get loud with your advocacy for Manitoba libraries!

The writ has dropped and the Manitoba Library Association has launched it’s Election Toolkit 2023 to help engage candidates and the public on the topic of support for public libraries.

It’s more important than ever to ensure our elected government officials truly understand the value and importance of Manitoba Libraries!

This toolkit provides the following pieces needed to communicate with candidates:

  1. MLA’s top priorities for the 2023 provincial election;
  2. an email/letter template for contacting candidates;
  3. suggested questions to pose to candidates;
  4. social media posts to share with your social networks;
  5. a list of helpful resources related to the value of public libraries.

Download our latest Election Toolkit 2023 today!

Article in THIS magazine features MLA-Prison Libraries Committee

Posted in Advocacy, Intellectual Freedom, and Prison Libraries

“Despite the obvious benefits of access to information behind bars, that freedom is routinely limited or not extended to incarcerated people in Canada.”

The Prison Libraries Committee was interviewed for an article in THIS magazine entitled: Books behind bars: Incarcerated people in Canada are often without access to information. Prison librarians are working to change that (https://this.org/2023/08/17/books-behind-bars/) by Leslie Sinclair.

The article describes the realities of working and volunteering in prison libraries as well as shares some valuable and important lived experiences from formerly incarcerated people. If you are interested in learning more about the Manitoba Library Association’s Prison Libraries Committee – please check out our webpage on this site or contact the chair of the committee at prison.library@mla.mb.ca

 

Letter sent from the Manitoba Library Association to the Municipal Council of the City of Winkler

Posted in Advocacy, and Intellectual Freedom

July 21, 2023
To the Mayor and Municipal Council of the City of Winkler:

The Manitoba Library Association (MLA) has significant concerns stemming from the July 11, 2023 City of Winkler Council meeting, where the Council chose to officially appoint Councillor Don Fehr to serve as the Council Representative to the South Central Regional Library (SCRL) Board. Further, Council also passed a resolution that called on both Board representatives of the City of Winkler to “exert influence as members of the SCRL Board of Directors to create policy whereby graphically sexually explicit books be moved from the children’s section to another section of the library as appropriate so that children will not stumble across them but they remain available to parents who wish to use them as an educational resource”.

On June 2, while attending the political event for CPC candidate Branden Leslie at the Meridian Exhibition Centre in Winkler, Mr. Fehr was recorded having a conversation with a local anti-government conspiracy theorist Karl Kreb.

In the audio (which can be made available upon request), Don is clearly heard to say the following:
● He identified himself as being a SCRL Board member.
● He told Karl he spoke with two other people, with the full name of one person being Rick Wall, and told them to “hang off with the protesting…to let us do our thing inside”.
● He told Karl he “does not want any media attention on me because I would like to do this in a way that is, methodically done, to, have the final end result that we can have.”

In addition to saying these things on camera during a live-streamed political event, Mr. Fehr’s name also appears on one of the petitions submitted to the City Council for the July 11 Council meeting.

Given Mr. Fehr’s personal views in favour of censoring library materials, and the fact he has articulated his willingness to abuse his authority as an elected official to force his personal views onto the SCRL Board, MLA is deeply disturbed that the City of Winkler Council felt it was appropriate to appoint Mr. Fehr to serve as their representative to the SCRL Board. We are even more disturbed that the Council saw fit to give full support to Mr. Fehr to effectively bully the SCRL Board into forcing SCRL to take action that not only violates the library system’s autonomy, but also forces the views of a few people onto the over 44,000 people SCRL serves.

MLA calls upon the City of Winkler Council to immediately revoke its appointment of Councillor Don Fehr as Council Representative to the SCRL Board, and for the Council to issue an official apology to the other funding councils of SCRL for attempting to force those communities to accept the de facto censorship practices called for in the City’s recent resolution.

Richard Bee, MLIS
Director-at-Large, Advocacy
Manitoba Library Association

MLA and MSLA issue statement in light of the recent active harassment of public school boards and public library boards in Manitoba

Posted in Advocacy

The Manitoba Library Association (MLA) and the Manitoba School Library Association (MSLA) have issued the following statement in light of the recent active harassment of public school boards and public library boards in Manitoba:

The Manitoba Library Association (MLA) and the Manitoba School Library Association (MSLA)  condemn the harassment of public library boards and public school boards as an attack on public education and intellectual freedom. We stand with school, academic and public library professionals and affirm our commitment to diversity, equity, and the safeguarding of the peaceful exchange of ideas. Recent incidents, like the disruptive protest during a Louis Riel School Division school board meeting in Winnipeg and the harassment of employees and Board members of the South Central Regional Library headquartered in Winkler, underscore the urgent need to address this issue.

Such harassment disrupts the vital work of all library professionals and hinders access to diverse educational resources. We affirm the right of library staff and professionals to maintain collections that serve the needs of all members of their communities, including members of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community. 

We reject all forms of harassment and intimidation and advocate for inclusive communities where every member of the community is respected. It is crucial for community leaders to support their libraries and defend the principles of open education, intellectual freedom, inclusivity, diversity, and equal access to information. Together, we can support our diverse and democratic society that upholds these values and ensures the flourishing of knowledge, understanding, and respectful dialogue.

MLA Continues Advocacy in Response to Calls for Censorship

Posted in Advocacy, and Intellectual Freedom

Manitoba Library Association has continued its work responding to calls for censorship in Manitoba libraries through the month of May. Our board and staff have worked hard on these responses and we would like to express sincere thanks to our members and partner organizations for their collaboration – without your active engagement, these responses would not have been possible.

Intellectual Freedom Toolkit

Posted in Advocacy, and Intellectual Freedom

Manitoba Library Association continues to express its ongoing concern regarding book censorship efforts in the province. As recently as this week, Brandon School Division was approached by a delegation suggesting the banning of books from school libraries.

In response to these matters, MLA is announcing its release of the

Public Libraries Intellectual Freedom and Anti-Censorship Toolkit

News – Censorship in BC

Posted in Advocacy, and Intellectual Freedom

RCMP Confirms Censorship Attempts Were Unwarranted at BC School Libraries

Canadian Federation of Library Associations Logo

CFLA/FCAB Press Release
14 March 2023, Canada

Libraries continue to defend students’ freedom to read in the face of increased censorship
tactics.
A recent RCMP investigation found that items in Chilliwack, BC school libraries – while they
may be deemed inappropriate or concerning to some people – do not contain child
pornography. The investigation was in response to a complaint from a member of a Canadian based group which is actively trying to have certain titles – primarily those with LGBTQA2S+
content – removed from libraries. Read the full press release here.