"...the #freedaleaskey collection [is] a web document, and social media archive containing news coverage, conversations, and letters of support surrounding the lawsuits filed by the Edwin Mellen Press against McMaster University's Dale Askey. These lawsuits, filed in June 2012, center around a 2010 blog post that Dale made criticizing the quality of scholarship published by the Press.
This archive stands as an important document in exposing and preserving this case in the public memory, and helping to ensure that this particular instance of aggressive legal action in the service of squelching free speech can serve as a teachable moment for anyone who values the intellectual freedom of librarians. The fact that it was made by librarians and archivists, using the traditional tools of librarians and archivists, stands as a testament to how important it is to preserve not just these documents, but our right to continue to do what we do..."
From introduction by Steve Marks, President of OLITA
(Ontario Library and Information Technology Association)
The PLG GTA was incredibly honoured to receive the Les Fowlie Intellectual Freedom Award from the Ontario Library Association for the #freedaleaskey Collection, a collection of public statements, publicly available press releases, blog posts, letters of support, online comments and more ephemeral elements related to the #freedaleaskey campaign that developed as a response to court proceedings filed by publisher Herbert W. Richardson and the Edwin Mellen Press against academic librarian Dale Askey in June 2012 and his employer McMaster University.
To be clear, it is our firm opinion that Dale Askey deserves this award more than we do. His unwillingness to back down, his continued defence of academic freedom and freedom of expression, against what we consider a strategic lawsuit against participation by Herbert Richardson and the Edwin Mellen Press was, and is, absolutely inspiring. But, if he can’t have it, we might as well explain why we have done what we have done. The heart of the matter is this: we did this because we believe this is what we are supposed to do.
We believe that as a profession, both as librarians and archivists, we cannot, as Brien Brothman has cautioned, "abstain from cultural awareness and criticism"; to do so would be, in his words, "tantamount to professional irresponsibility."1 We started documenting, capturing and preserving what we saw happening online because we felt it was an important moment in time for our profession, and we didn’t want to lose evidence of the wave of support that rose to Dale Askey’s defence.
We are deeply humbled by this award and the public recognition of our work. We will view it as encouragement from our peers to continue to advocate on behalf of the profession and our shared values of freedom of expression and public access to information.
- Brien Brothman, “Orders of Value: Probing the Theoretical Terms of Archival Practice” Archivaria 32 (1991): pp.78-100; p. 92. ↩