Monthly Archives: May 2014

CFP – Organize and Assemble IV: Commodification of Information Goods and Library Services

PLG Edmonton invites submissions for our fourth annual symposium, Organize and Assemble IV, taking place on October 18, 2014. Practitioners, scholars, activists, students, and other members of the general public interested in library, archival and allied information services are asked to speak on topics pertaining to this year’s theme: the commodification of information goods and library services.

Recent political, economic, and technological change have resulted in the growing commodification of information and the marketisation of library services. The consequences range from increasingly restrictive intellectual property rights to the recasting of library patrons as customers to the outsourcing of entire libraries to private companies. Resistance to this trend has emerged, aimed at safeguarding the intellectual/knowledge commons and advancing alternatives to intellectual property. Tension around the economic nature of libraries and information is a core issue for all librarians and information professionals.

This one-day refereed event will provide an interactive forum for the identification and exploration of contemporary issues of commodification of information, access, equity, and social justice as they connect with and disconnect from the rhetoric and reality of library and archival studies and services locally and globally. This year’s keynote speaker will be Dr. Samuel E. Trosow from the University of Western Ontario — a leading expert in Canadian copyright — who has served on the CLA copyright committee and is co-author of the recently published, second edition of Canadian Copyright: A Citizen’s Guide.

 In keeping with the theme, possible topics include but are not limited to the following:

  • Market rhetoric in library services (e.g. customers, library CEOs)
  • Intellectual property rights (copyright, patents, etc.)
  • Alternatives to intellectual property and promotion of the knowledge/information commons (gift/sharing economy, open access, open source software, etc.)
  • Fees for services and the role of cost-recovery vs. for profit models in libraries, museums, and archives
  • Outsourcing and privatization of library services
  • The intersection of the information marketplace and issues of race, gender and/or class
  • The economics of library services and information (public vs. private information, artificial scarcity, pricing models for information)

We are also thrilled to announce that the conference proceedings will be published in Progressive Librarian, thereby exposing the content of our local symposium to an international audience. Accordingly, we are inviting proposals for print materials such as cartoons, poems, resource lists, reviews, etc. to be considered for inclusion in the issue.

Please submit proposals (not to exceed 500 words) for individual and group contributions (e.g., papers, debates, round-tables, critiques, panels, posters, exhibits, manifestos, performances, and mini-workshops) and for print materials to be included in the conference proceedings via email to plg.edmonton [at] gmail [dot] com by midnight July 4th, 2014. Submitters will be notified of their acceptance by July 18th.

The PLG supports progressive and democratic activities in the area of information services, and the Edmonton Chapter’s Program Committee will review all submissions that recognize (or challenge!) this stance and the PLG statement of purpose more broadly:

Democratic Access Denied

This is the first post in a regularly occurring series on topics of interest to local progressive information professionals.

Access to government information is required for a functioning democracy. The US founding fathers got it — and drafted legislation to reinforce this need and right.

Here at home, things are bit muddier. Commissions dating back to 1897 (e.g., Commission on Public Records, 1897; Pope Commission, 1912report) called on our federal government to get its documentary house in order and preserve the output of the state so that policymakers and residents alike might be able to meaningfully engage in their body politic.

Sadly, we’re still waiting — more than a century later. And the recent transition to digital publishing has turned mud into quicksand. Government information professionals now navigate the ghosts of publications past (many government publications are no longer produced or available to the public) and increasingly rely on US-based institutions to track down web content posted and then removed by their own government.

Government Information Librarian Amanda Wakaruk has spent considerable effort documenting some of the information carnage that has unfolded at the hands of the Harper Government. “What the Heck is Happening up North? Canadian Federal Government Information, Circa 2014” is available to download here:

While Amanda’s article was written for American colleagues, we’ve run with her observations and crafted a few questions that should be addressed by everyone’s MP here in Canada:

  • Where is the government’s digital preservation strategy? It should include a commitment to make perpetual open access to government information a reality and be written by information professionals who actually work in the area.

  • What happened to the stuff removed from government web sites? Does anyone even know what was actually removed?

  • Why do communications managers have the power to both decide what is published and assess their own compliance with the TBS Procedures for Publishing? What happens in situations of noncompliance? Or does that never happen because they will never opt to find themselves in noncompliance?

  • Why aren’t ALL communications items (not just publications, which are narrowly defined) sent to Library and Archives Canada and the Depository Services Program for stewardship and dissemination?

  • Why did the TBS roll out new web protocols without proper funding and procedures? Why did it take a court case to force the government to respond to the result?

  • Why is there such a thing as Crown Copyright? Materials paid for and produced BY the people FOR the people should be in the public domain.

  • Where is the Virtual Library (not a portal) announced in 2011?

  • Find a way to talk to information professionals about these issues, not just politicized bureaucrats. When can a funded advisory committee (that meets in person) be struck?

In short, we agree with the Distant Librarian — this is BS. Do your part to stop the BS. Send your MP an email with the questions above and ask them what they are doing to help collect, preserve, and provide access to government information.

Next Meeting – Tuesday May 27

The next PLG Edmonton meeting will be held Tuesday May 27 from 7-8PM in the meeting room of EPL’s Strathcona Branch, 8331 – 104 Street. The agenda will be sent to the list serve a few days in advance. Everyone welcome.

Social Media Committee Getting Started Brunch

Share the leftist political, ethical and professional issues affecting the information professions that you care about with a community that wants to know. PLG Edmonton wants to enhance its presence on social media to initiate conversations about events, ideas and problems that affect our members (and the world).

This effort (like all others) is best accomplished together – so we’re asking members to regularly share stories, articles, research and graphics of relevance to PLG members.

Next Saturday, May 24, come to the Underground Tap & Grill, 10004 Jasper Ave, at 11 am for brunch and the first and only meeting of the social media committee. We’ll enjoy some food and good company and decide how to get organized.

If you have any questions or if you are interested, but unable to attend – contact plg.edmonton [at]
Hope to see you there!