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My Open Letter to Libraryland RE: Dale Askey Lawsuit

Colleagues,

First of all, everyone receiving this message is at an organization or library which has issued a statement in support of Dale Askey. I’ve tried to find the most appropriate contacts for each - if I have reached the wrong person I am sorry; I would respectfully ask that you pass this message on to the appropriate party. Similarly, if I have neglected to include anyone I apologise and would ask that if you know of any oversight (see CC list below) that you consider passing this on to interested organizations, institutions, or individuals.

Thank you all for your courage and clear voices in standing up for the principles of intellectual freedom which unite us all. I’m writing to update you on what I understand to be the situation as it stands now. As many of you are aware, social media and e-mail were alive recently with a CBC story that EMP had decided to drop “at least one” of its suits against Askey.

As I see it, this was a calculated volte-face to at least some degree. EMP did indeed drop the suit which named Askey and McMaster as co-defendants; bear in mind that this was a lawsuit which was never likely to go very far. The notion of trying to stick culpability to Askey’s employer for actions taken by Askey when he lived in a different international jurisdiction and before he even entered their employ should seem patently absurd. It is.

The second suit – that filed by Herbert Richardson (EMP founder and editor) against Askey specifically – still stands as. There two points which bear noting here.

First, the attempt to dissociate EMP from Richardson strikes me as at least partially disingenuous. I’d encourage you to read some backstory on this individual’s association with the Press and his use of litigation to stifle criticism. Unfortunately this is not as easy as it sounds, since at least one key piece of early criticism (of Richardson and the Press) has mysteriously been taken down over the last few weeks. Fortunately, web archiving is our friend - this one is really worth a look (it is worth noting that this piece itself ended up being the subject of at least two lawsuits):

The Responsibility of Professors: Academic Freedom, Peer Review, and the Scholarly Conscience Today" (1995) (archived)

Second, and more importantly, the core issue still stands – that of a press or individual attacking the right of a librarian (or indeed any individual) to express a critical opinion of a work or body of work in the public sphere.

With this in mind, I’m asking you to please stand by your statements in support of Dale and even amend them if possible to incorporate this new information. This issue is not resolved, but I believe EMP are taking us for fools and expecting we will drop our guard - and relent with the social media pressure they said was a decisive factor in deciding to drop the McMaster suit. Let’s prove them wrong.

Dale still needs our support, and this litigation still has the potential to further a culture of extremely bad precedents for intellectual freedom in Canada - to say nothing of the sheer injustice of using the court process to financially force individuals into silence. It’s not over yet.

Best regards,

-M
________

CC:

American Library Association
Association of Research Libraries
Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries
American Association of University Presses
Medical Library Association
Canadian Library Association
Canadian Association of Research Libraries
Canadian Association of University Teachers
Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians
Canadian Association of University Presses
Ex Libris Association
British Columbia Library Association
Saskatchewan Library Association
Ontario College and University Library Association
Ontario Library and Information Technology Association
Progressive Librarians’ Guild - Greater Toronto Area
Progressive Librarians’ Guild - London
University of Guelph Library
University of British Columbia Library
University of Victoria Library
Brock University Library
Mount Royal University Library
York University Faculty Association
Windsor University Faculty Association

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