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    Algoma University Interdisciplinary Colloquium Series: Michelle Atkin "Examining the Limits of Free Expression through Canadian Case Law: Reflections on the Canadian Library Association’s Code of Ethics and its supporting Statement on Intellectual Freedom"

    Every month or so one of my university colleagues presents a talk to the public.  These are pretty casual affairs, with a bar, indeed people get up and get drinks during the talks.  OK, maybe that is just me, but there is a cash bar, really!  I contacted Ken Hernden, who runs the series (along with Warren Johnston) and asked if we should not start recording and posting these.  Ken, of course thought this was a great idea. So, here is the first in what will become an intermittent series.  By the way, you Tangential Convergence listeniners will recognize Ken and Robin introducing their librarian colleague.  Oh yeah, and everything below this was stolen used with permission from an email Ken sent about the talk...  (Oh yeah, and the music is called "Beer Rights" by Battery Life).


    Various library associations around the world have developed codes of ethics to help guide librarians in their conduct as information professionals.  The structures of these codes and their enforceability have been the subject of much debate, particularly in the Canadian context.  This paper will examine the Canadian Library Association’s Code of Ethics and its Statement on Intellectual Freedom as applied to the practice of librarianship and its efforts to protect and promote intellectual freedom in Canada.  It will begin with a discussion of the ‘right’ to intellectual freedom under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  It will then look at the legal limitations to that right as demonstrated by Canadian case law.  Specific attention will be paid to challenges to the legal limits of intellectual freedom in the areas of pornography, obscenity, defamation, hate speech and the application of public morals on book selection for schools.  Taking recent case law into account, the paper will then reflect back on the CLA’s Code of Ethics and its Statement on Intellectual Freedom. It will discuss the legal limits of intellectual freedom and the potential impact that those limits have upon professional codes of ethics and statements of values.  Finally the paper will provide suggestions for potential amendments to these important CLA documents so as to better reflect the constitutional guarantees afforded by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

    About the Author

    Michelle Louise Atkin received her BA in Political Science from Carleton University in 1999, MLIS from McGill University in 2003, and her PhD in Information Studies from McGill in 2011.  Dr. Atkin's research work concerns information ethics, law and policy.  Her first book, Balancing Liberty & Security:  An Ethical Study of U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (2001-2009), is due out in early 2012.  Dr. Atkin is currently working on a second book on intellectual freedom and will be presenting her paper, "Examining the Limits of Free Expression through Canadian Case Law:  Reflections on the Canadian Library Association’s Code of Ethics and its supporting Statement on Intellectual Freedom" at the national conference of the Association for Information Science Education in Dallas Jan. 19, 2012.

    Dr. Atkin is an award winning librarian and teacher, having received a Professional Achievement Award from Carleton University in 2007 and a Capital Educator's Award from the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation in recognition of her accomplishments as a Law Professor in 2009 for her undergraduate "Legal Research Methods" and "Law and the Information Society" courses.  Dr. Atkin was the Law Reference Librarian at the Carleton University Library for 8 years (2003-2011) before joining Algoma University as an Associate Librarian and part-time professor (Department of Law & Politics). 

    You can directly download the talk here if you would like.

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