As Toronto-area library workers concerned with issues of freedom of expression, censorship and freedom of information, we wish to issue a statement of support for Dale Askey, AUL at McMaster University, against the unprecedented libel lawsuit brought against him by the Edwin Mellen Press.
As a professional librarian engaged in collection development, Mr. Askey is qualified to make a judgment on the quality of published material. Furthermore, in an open and democratic society, he is free to share these opinions as he sees fit. The lawsuit brought against him is nothing more than a retaliatory measure and an outright assault on academic freedom—a principle that is highly regarded by both the doctoral community and libraries—the very communities that Edwin Mellen Press claims as their prime audience.
We call upon the library and academic communities to stand up for Dale's academic freedom and basic freedom of speech. The Canadian Association of University Teachers has said the following about librarians and academic freedom:
Librarians have a duty to promote and preserve intellectual freedom in society. They have a responsibility to protect academic freedom and are entitled to the full protection of their own academic freedom in accordance with CAUT policies. This freedom includes, but is not limited to, the right and duty to exercise their academic professional judgment in the selection of library materials, and to ensure that library materials are freely accessible to all, no matter how controversial those materials may be.
Both the suit against Askey and past interactions with the scholarly community suggest Mellen Press is not interested in meaningful dialogue about scholarship and scholarly publishing. Currently, libraries are amongst the biggest customers of Edwin Mellen Press. Going forward, we hope to see a change in the relationship between Edwin Mellen Press and the community it claims to serve. In our opinion, an attack upon the academic freedom of one librarian is an attack upon us all.
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