Libraries are in the news again because of the upcoming winter Olympics. Last month, I blogged about Whistler Public Library closing for the duration of the Olympics. Today, Twitter came through again with some controversial library news.
Via @CTVOlympics, librarians in Vancouver "are being warned to solicit only official Olympic sponsors for any Games-themed events they organize next month, and to cover up the names of any competitors - even slapping tape on offending logos on audiovisual equipment."
It means that VPL staff should:
- avoid companies like Pepsi or Dairy Queen (not official sponsors) but can solicit swag or sponsorship for events etc. from Coca-Cola or McDonald's (official sponsors)
- avoid displaying the logos of non-sponsors ie. if a guest speaker is from Telus (not an official sponsor) they can't wear any branded clothing, but if a guest speaker is from Bell (official sponsor) they may wear a jacket with a logo on it
- cover logos with cloth/tape from A/V equipment like Toshiba or Sony (not official sponsors) but not from Panasonic (official sponsor)
The memo did not come from the Olympic committee - it came from the library's marketing and communications manager and "does not constitute censorship."
The union president notes "the memo is contrary to the spirit of a public library."
Well done for once again giving libraries a bad name in the media by imposing a silly rule. The Olympic committee isn't worried about libraries violating any sponsorship rules, why should the library? It's shocking to me that an institution that advocates for intellectual freedom would play along with blatant corporate propaganda.
Ok, so big companies give libraries money and get big-ass signs erected in their honour. Is that right? There other ways to accept the necessary evil that is corporate sponsorship of underfunded libraries. But this is different. The library is gaining nothing from this move. I appreciate the whole city of Vancouver is participating in the Olympics in one way or another, and the library is a municipal department, but public libraries do not censor their materials, why should they censor their television frames and guests?
They're opening up a can of worms...