By Jessica Berget, Editor-in-Chief
Last year, the Vancouver Public Library was protested because they allowed a controversial feminist writer, Meghan Murphy to speak there. As a result, they were rejected from the 2019 Vancouver Pride Parade.
At the time, they claimed that “Free speech and intellectual freedoms are fundamental values of public libraries.”
Recently, they have updated their booking policies and require pre-screening for events.
According to their new draft “The Library’s values include diversity, respectful spaces, intellectual freedom and access for all.” It goes on to say “The library believes that freedom of expression and access to ideas and information are essential to the health and development of a democratic society. We acknowledge that the library’s spaces may be used by those who express ideas that may be contrary to the Library’s vision and values.”
The new draft the Vancouver public library puts in place is one I think all institutions should base their policy on. Emphasis on intellectual freedom and free speech. It’s certainly one that I base this paper on. I stand with Vancouver Public Library’s commitment to intellectual freedom.
They reiterate their stance by saying “In some instances they may, on a personal level, view them as offensive or harmful. However, in keeping with its value of intellectual freedom, the Library will not restrict freedom of expression beyond the limits prescribed by Canadian law.”
The library has taken a strong position with intellectual freedom, and it is much needed. Healthy discussion and debate cannot happen unless there is conversation on both sides. Institutions should be able to let these discussions take place without having to defend their own political affiliations or be scrutinized. Just because they host controversial talks, doesn’t mean they have the same views or ideologies. They are simply exercising their commitment to free speech and intellectual freedom. Whether they agree with it or not is no matter, they don’t have to agree with every speaker they book. I certainly don’t agree with everything that is published in this paper, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to publish it because that would go against everything democracy stands for.