The 63rd Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Library Association/Association canadienne des bibliothèques took place May 24, 2008 in Vancouver. Highlights from the meeting are:
- A bylaw amendment was carried that allows members to choose membership in one Interest Group at no additional fee;
- Four Resolutions on public policy issues were approved;
- Executive Director Don Butcher’s departure from CLA was announced.
Bylaw amendment carried
A compromise bylaw amendment presented by CLA’s Executive Council was approved by the membership, resolving a two-year debate on how membership dues should be allocated.
In 2006, 17 members presented a bylaw amendment that would have allowed members to support up to two Interest Groups instead of one Division without paying additional dues. The amendment was deferred in both 2006 and 2007.
Executive Council proposed that members be allowed to choose membership in one Division and one Interest Group without paying additional dues. This compromise was adopted by the membership.
The bylaw amendment will come into effect once it is approved by Industry Canada.
Four Resolutions approved
The membership approved four Resolutions.
Resolution 2008-1 supported the use of open, interoperable and vendor-neutral file format standards such as Open Document Format, especially for government documents.
Resolution 2008-2 encouraged CLA to work with other organizations to discourage the expansion of the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreements and the Agreement on Internal Trade until full consultations are undertaken, and library and information services are made exempt.
Resolution 2008-3 is related to two CanWest lawsuits, filed against seven people who are accused of having produced a parody of a CanWest publication in violation of copyright. The resolution affirms library core values such as freedom of expression, and urges CanWest to drop the suits.
Resolution 2008-4 encouraged CLA to support the principle of Net Neutrality through favouring legislation clearly in favour of a neutral Internet and by calling on the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to develop rules to protect Net Neutrality.
Executive Director to leave CLA
The departure of Don Butcher from his role as CLA’s Executive Director no later than this fall was announced. More details will be made available later.
CLA/ACB Resolution on Open File Format Standards
Whereas the preservation of and long-term access to government information are vital in a democratic society;
And whereas in order for libraries to fulfill their role of preserving and providing access to information, it is essential that governments and other public bodies take steps to ensure that future generations can access information created today;
And whereas open, interoperable, vendor-neutral file format standards play a key role in ensuring preservation and future access;
And whereas the OpenDocument Format (ODF) is such a standard;
And whereas Office Open XML (OOXML), a competing standard promoted by Microsoft, is not sufficiently open, interoperable, or vendor-neutral;
And whereas in April 2008 the Standards Council of Canada rejected the OOXML standard in its current form;
And whereas governments and public bodies in many countries have already decided to adopt ODF, including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Finland, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Norway and South Africa;
And whereas the Canadian Library Association/Association canadienne des bibliothèques has adopted a position statement encouraging libraries to support open access;
And whereas CLA has adopted a resolution that any new copyright legislation
- Recognize that government documents and government data belongs to all Canadians and that all Canadians should have liberal access to these materials;
- Recognize that exceptions for print-disabled individuals must ensure that these individuals have the same ability as others to access content;
Be it resolved that CLA support the Standards Council of Canada’s opposition to OOXML and urge the federal government to mandate the use of open, interoperable, and vendor-neutral standards such as OpenDocument Format for government information wherever possible;
And be it further resolved that CLA encourage other library-related organizations to do the same at all levels of government;
And be it further resolved that CLA encourage Library and Archives Canada and the Librarian and Archivist of Canada to utilize the objects and powers in the Library and Archives Act, 2004 in order to encourage the use of open file format standards;
And be it further resolved that CLA encourage the government to have a continuing open consultation about access to and preservation of government information;
And be it further resolved that CLA encourage the staff and patrons of libraries and library-related organizations to support and promote the use of open file format standards.
(Librarian and Archivist of Canada Ian Wilson has responded to CLA’s resolution supporting open file format standards. Dr. Wilson’s letter states Library and Archives Canada is already encouraging the use of open file format standards. His complete reply is available here.)
CLA/ACB Resolution on TILMA and AIT
Whereas without public consultation the governments of British Columbia and Alberta signed the Trade, Investment, and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) which came into force on April 1, 2007, and the BCLA passed resolutions at its 2007 and 2008 annual general meetings in opposition to this trade agreement and to the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT), an agreement signed by Canada’s provinces in 1994;
And Whereas TILMA enables private investors to sue provincial governments for up to $5 million if new or existing regulations “restrict or impair investment” (Articles 3 and 5.3), or if regulations are not “reconciled” between the provinces (Article 5.1);
And Whereas TILMA is a “Trade Enhancement Arrangement” under the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT);
And Whereas at their Council of the Federation meeting in January 2008 Canadian premiers endorsed a new plan for making AIT panel rulings enforceable, with governments liable for monetary awards of up to $5 million per infraction;
And Whereas without a specific exemption from TILMA or the AIT, provincial and municipal public sector services are government entities subject to these agreements (which may include library boards and any other bodies operating under provincial library legislation);
And Whereas both the AIT and TILMA have potentially profound implications for our communities and our society, including the ability of library boards and associations to meet the needs of their communities;
And Whereas the TILMA website says that there will be “extensive consultation … with local governments and professional and occupational associations,” but to our knowledge no consultations with the general public are planned;
Be It Resolved that the Canadian Library Association/Association canadienne des bibliothèques, as a matter of urgency, work cross-sectorally with other public service entities to discourage expansion of TILMA to other provinces until full consultations with local governments and professional and occupational associations are undertaken and implications of the agreement on public services be made apparent;
And Be It Further Resolved that CLA work with library associations across Canada to ensure that provincial and territorial governments fully exempt library and information services from TILMA and TILMA-like agreements and the AIT;
And Be It Further Resolved that CLA work with library associations and other interested parties to assess the potential impact on school, public, and academic libraries of the premiers’ January 2008 proposal to make the AIT enforceable;
And Be It Further Resolved that CLA provide frequent updates to the Canadian library community on developments concerning TILMA and the AIT that are relevant to library and information services.
Kirsti Nilsen, Convenor
International Trade Treaties Working Group
CLA/ACB Resolution to Affirm and Support
BCLA’s 2008 Resolution on CanWest and Free Speech
Be it resolved thatthe Canadian Library Association / Association canadienne des bibliothèques:
- affirm and support the BCLA 2008 RESOLUTION ON CANWEST AND FREE SPEECH;
- affirm intellectual freedom as a core value of Canadian (and global) librarianship and its sister profession of journalism;
- affirm that the role of the media in a democracy is to provide a forum for robust open discussion, dialogue, and debate, not to suppress freedom of expression;
- object to CanWest’s seeking to use its corporate resources and cultural capital to intimidate its dissenters and silence those people and groups who hold opposing views;
- assert that satire and parody are important intellectual traditions and “ways of knowing” that must be honoured in democratic society; and,
- urge CanWest to drop its suit against Mordecai Briemberg and the six Jane and John Does named in the writ.
RATIONALE: At its annual general meeting on April 19, 2008, the British Columbia Library Association (BCLA) passed a Resolution on CanWest and Free Speech (see next page), calling for CanWest to withdraw its legal suit against Mordecai Briemberg and the others charged with having produced a parody of The Vancouver Sun in June 2007. The Canadian Library Association/Association canadienne des bibliothèques (CLA) is Canada’s largest national and broad-based library association, representing the interests of public, academic, school and special libraries, professional librarians and library workers, and all those concerned about enhancing the quality of life of Canadians through equitable access to information, lifelong learning, and literacy. CLA is an advocate and public voice, educator and network for the Canadian information professions. CLA believes that libraries and the principles of intellectual freedom and free universal access to information are key components of an open and democratic society. Effective advocacy is based upon understanding the social, cultural, political and historical contexts in which libraries and information services function. Intellectual freedom is a core value of Canadian (and global) librarianship and its sister profession of journalism. The role of the media in a democracy is to provide a forum for robust open discussion, dialogue, and debate, not to suppress freedom of expression. CLA should challenge CanWest’s seeking to use its corporate resources and cultural capital to intimidate its dissenters and silence those people and groups who hold opposing views. With this Resolution, CLA has the opportunity to strongly assert that satire and parody are important intellectual traditions and “ways of knowing” that must be honoured in democratic society.
Respectfully submitted by the Advisory Committee on Intellectual Freedom
Title of BCLA Resolution:
Resolution on CanWest and Free Speech
Rationale / Purpose for BLCA Resolution on CanWest and Free Speech:
CanWest is suing local activist Mordecai Briemberg over a parody of the Vancouver Sun, even though Briemberg had nothing to do with creating the parody. Due to CanWest’s dominance over Canadian media, this has had a chilling effect on people’s right to criticize the media and speak freely on contentious issues.
Prior History of this BCLA Resolution (IF ANY):
BCLA passed resolutions on media democracy in 2003 and 2007, and has a standing commitment to intellectual freedom.
Whereas BCLA passed resolutions opposing media concentration and supporting Media Democracy Day in both 2003 and 2007;
And Whereas CanWest is the largest media conglomerate in Canada and owns The Vancouver Sun, The Vancouver Province, The Vancouver Courier, The Victoria Times-Colonist, The National Post, Global Television and many specialty channels and community newspapers;
And Whereas the greater the concentration of media ownership, the narrower the range of opinions presented through those media;
Whereas the 2007 BCLA resolution on “Libraries and Media Concentration” stated that “freedom of the press and public access to diverse media and information are prerequisite to a functioning democracy” and affirmed that “libraries are the primary social institution with responsibility to assure the broadest possible availability of a wide range of ideas and information”;
And Whereas CanWest has served Mordecai Briemberg and six other Jane and John Does with a writ of summons charging them with producing a four-page parody of The Vancouver Sun;
And Whereas it is clear this writ is directed mainly at Briemberg’s opposition to the continuing occupation of the West Bank and Gaza by Israel and is intended as a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation;
And Whereas political satire and parody both constitute important elements of intellectual freedom, and so play an important role in provoking democratic debate and free thought;
And Whereas CanWest has a pattern of launching Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation and taking other actions to undermine and curtail critical voices;
Be It Resolved that BCLA write an open letter to Canwest calling on them to drop both of the aforementioned legal suits;
And Be It Further Resolvedthat BCLA broadly distribute this letter in the library, media activist, and civil liberties communities as well as seek publication in Canwest and other media;
And Be It Resolved that BCLA support the 2008 Media Democracy Day and encourage libraries throughout the province to hold events;
And Be It Resolved that the BCLA work with the Information Policy Committee to develop a series of educational tools, possibly including a travelling workshop, to educate the BCLA membership and the general community on the impact of media concentration.
- The Canadian Library Association/Association canadienne des bibliothèques has called on CanWest Global to drop its lawsuit against seven members of the public who created and circulated a parody.
CLA/ACB Resolution on Network (“Net”) Neutrality
Whereas the federal government, via the Telecommunications Act, incorporates into Canadian telecommunications policy the value of “common carriage” which requires the separation between the network infrastructure and the content that moves over the network, so that all content is treated equally; and
Whereas Network Neutrality (“Net Neutrality”) is the principle that all information or service sent over broadband, or high speed internet access, should be treated equally with no degradation or prioritization or privileges based on content, source, ownership or destination of information or service; and
Whereas the public Internet was founded upon principles of openness, including Net Neutrality and equal treatment of content providers by connectivity providers; and
Whereas New Media have not yet been adequately addressed by and incorporated into Canadian telecommunications policy; and
Whereas cases of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) discriminating among content and violating the principles of Net Neutrality in Canada have already been documented; and
Whereas libraries and librarians have a vested interest in maintaining Net Neutrality, both as content providers and as a portal to content via the Internet; and
Whereas it is the position of the Canadian Library Association/Association canadienne des bibliothèques that “All persons in Canada have the fundamental right, as embodied in the nation’s Bill of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to have access to all expressions of knowledge, creativity and intellectual activity, and to express their thoughts publicly,” and “It is the responsibility of libraries to guarantee and facilitate access to all expressions of knowledge and intellectual activity” (CLA Statement on Intellectual Freedom); and
Whereas the IFLA/UNESCO Internet Manifesto Guidelines instruct that “In the interests of keeping the Internet as a neutral mechanism for the delivery of information and services, librarians should resist any efforts to introduce a tiered pricing model or otherwise diminish the neutral nature of the network”;
Therefore, be it resolved that CLA work with other interested parties to urge the Canadian government to re-examine the Telecommunications Act in order to clearly legislate in favour of a neutral Internet, requiring ISPs to comply with common carriage provisions and conduct business in a manner that is open, transparent, and accountable; and
Be it further resolved that CLA call for the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to develop clear and enforceable rules to protect Net Neutrality; and
Be it further resolved that CLA educate the library community about Net Neutrality and encourage the library community to act in support of Net Neutrality.
Rationale / Purpose for Resolution:
Network (Net) Neutrality, the principle that online content should be treated equally by network connectivity providers, is under attack in Canada and in the U.S. Cases of Canadian Internet Service Providers engaging in practices that effectively prioritize some and censor other forms of information on their networks have already been documented. Canadian telecommunications policy and regulatory enforcement need to be updated in order for them to preserve the democratic principles of the Internet. Public debate over this topic has already begun and policy-making seems imminent. Library associations should seize this opportunity to educate and advocate for net neutrality.
Prior History of this Resolution:
This resolution was developed jointly by the British Columbia Library Association (BCLA) Information Policy Committee and CLA’s Information Policy Working Group. A similar resolution was adopted by BCLA, with the intent of making a joint statement on net neutrality.