Friday, October 16, 2009

Scandalous YA Reading Experiences -

If you live in Edmonton, think about picking up a copy of this week's SEE magazine. The cover story is a great editorial written by six women about reading sexually explicit or scandalous books in their teens. Their stories ring true and while many of them are funny, it is also troubling to see their reading choices being limited by adults.

Divine Secrets of the YA Sisterhood - SEE Oct 15/09, Issue 829

In the first writer's experience, it seems too bad she didn't take up the opportunity to read V.C. Andrews' Flowers in the Attic and discuss it with her mother - who seems very cool and openminded to suggest it.

Penny McKee Branch New Location Announced

The Penny McKee Branch Library in Edmonton has announced their new location - in a former bar and strip club.
The branch was not able to remain in the Abbotsfield Mall and are moving a block away into their new location by the end of the year. There are plans to heavily renovate the Roadhouse Grill building, adding windows and an aquarium.
The new location is causing some controversy, the CBC has been reporting on the announcement of the new location today. Concerns have been raised by some members of the community that the library will be 'too close' to drunks. This seems to presume that only certain members of the community will (or should) use the new location, and that library-goers need to be protected from the community at large.
This should be a very interesting transformation for the Penny McKee Branch and their users.
Please follow the link to the CBC story, the discussion going on in the comments is particularly interesting. It looks like there are a lot of people in favour of this move (or at least in favour of keeping the branch open in the community no matter where it will be)

CBC - Library's Move into Former Bar Stirs Controversy

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sign up for the next tour of the women's prison

If you're interested in getting to know more about the FLIF/GELA partnership with the Edmonton Institution for Women and the multiple opportunities for volunteer involvement, sign yourself up for a prison tour. Let Kirsten know before October 23 so you can fill out security clearance. Here are the deets:

"GELA has organized another tour of the Edmonton Institution for Women (11151 - 178 Street) for Saturday, November 7 at 3 p.m. Any interested members of the library community are welcome to sign up for the tour. Cathy, the inmate librarian will be leading the tour so you can learn first hand about all the great GELA library projects, like our bookclubs and Storybook project.

A list of participants and their completed security clearance forms must be submitted by me to the prison by Friday October 23. The tour lasts about 1 ½ hours and can accommodate approximately 12 people so sign up soon!

To sign up for the tour and receive your security clearance form, please email Kirsten Wurmann at kwurmann @

Thanks for your interest,


On behalf of the GELA Prison Library sub-committee"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

GELA Prison Committee Book Club Project Meeting

If you're interested in getting involved with book clubs at the women's prison, here are some details about upcoming meetings. The book clubs have been really popular with the women and they've been reading some awesome books - to find out more come to the meeting!

"Book Club meeting:

At the last committee meeting, we discussed having a Book Club Subcommittee (I suppose that would be a sub-Subcommittee..?). I’d like to have a meeting within the next few weeks, but I recognize that October can be very busy. Nevertheless, I’m going to throw out a few dates in October and a couple in November. I was thinking of holding it at Remedy (close to the U of A and on a bus route) at 5:30 – does that work for everyone?

[FYI - The next book club meeting at the prison is on November 7th & the book is A Thousand Splendid Suns]

Here are a few dates:

(this Friday) October 16th

(next Friday) October 23rd

Tuesday, October 27

Monday, November 3rd

Thursday, November 5th"

Visit the blog and let them know what date works best for you!


Thursday, October 08, 2009

September 30, 2009 Meeting Minutes

Minutes from the September 30, 2009 FLIF Meeting

1. Round table introductions!

Thanks to everyone for coming to the first FLIF meeting for Fall 2009! Sorry the introductions were a little brief, but hopefully we will get to know each better throughout the year.

2. Points to Highlight for Community Bookshelf Project

What’s it all about

The Community Bookshelf Project works with inner city agencies to provide free reading materials for Edmontonians who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless. These individuals are may be embarrassed or unable to access other sources of reading materials. For many people, reading offers them an escape and a healthy way to use their time. In some cases, reading has helped people to kick addictions and make a new start.

Where do the books go

Books are distributed regularly distributed to a few select agencies and on an as-needed basis to other agencies.

We drop books at:
• The Bissell Centre – a daytime drop-in centre for inner city residents that also offers other services like showers, laundry facilities, food and help finding housing.
• Boyle Street Community Services – Boyle Street is also a daytime drop-in centre for inner city residents though it also houses a number of other services including the Learning Centre Literacy Association and Street Works. We are currently looking at new opportunities to work more closely with the Learning Centre on some innovative evening programs for Boyle Street clients (we’ll be looking at FLIF to help if this happens!).
• HIV Edmonton – an agency offering drop-in services for Edmontonians living with HIV. Approximately 60-70% of their clients are homeless.
• Operation Friendship – a multipurpose agency for seniors. Operation Friendship runs a daytime drop-in centre for inner city seniors and also operates 5 housing facilities for seniors in the inner city.

We help at events like:
• Homeless Connect – a one-day event for inner city residents held at the Shaw Conference Centre. Attendees can access a wide variety of services from legal help to getting IDs to having their teeth cleaned. The Community Bookshelf Project sets up a table with free books at each event. We usually bring about 20 boxes of books (donated by Edmonton Public Library) and have anywhere from 200-400 people drop by the table. If anyone is interested in dropping by to see what it’s all about, the next event is happening on Sunday, October 4 from 10-3pm. We’re happy to have any extra help! (If anyone is interested, let me know! People can come by for a whole shift or just an hour, it’s up to them)

Where do we get the books we donate

FLIF book drives, donations from local libraries (especially Edmonton Public Library) and personal donations.

Community Walk

We’re thinking of organizing a community walk for anyone interested in getting to better know Edmonton’s inner city. We’re looking at end of October – weather permitting.

3. Greater Edmonton Library Association (GELA) Women’s Prison Subcommittee

What’s it all about

Over the years FLIF has developed a strong partnership with GELA and many of our members have participated in their prison project. This initiative provides services to the women at the Edmonton Women’s Federal Correctional Institution. Over the summer GELA had participated in “vamping” up the library space, by weeding out books, bringing in new titles and giving the space a paint job. Other projects that go on throughout the year include

1. The Storybook Project-This is an opportunity for mother’s in the institution to record themselves reading stories so that they can send them to their children. The pilot project was completed over the summer using Audacity (Tara gave us some of her insights on how the project went). The women who participated were able to send the book and CD to their child. GELA hopes to continue with this project throughout the year.

2. Book Club-Several times a month (usually on the weekend) two GELA members go to the prison and read selected titles for the book club. To see a tentative schedule of what is coming up in the fall visit the GELA blog (). This project requires some what of a regular commitment as it includes the completion and discussion of specific book titles.

3. Prison Training Sessions- To volunteer at the prison there are two 3hour sessions that must be completed. We are still trying to coordinate times for the new training sessions. The first session is an orientation and tour of the prison and the second session is a safety orientation. Stay tuned for this fall’s schedule.

4. Streetworks

What’s it all about

Streetworks is a program offered by the Boyle Street Community Centre that focuses on harm reduction. There are counselors and nurses on staff that work closely with the community and they provide various services and offer education regarding safe intravenous drug use. The organization does have a small, but very significant collection of harm reduction literature. This is a very new partnership and over the summer two FLIF members did an assessment of the collection and developed a plan on how to get their library catalogued and put online so that their resources can be more efficiently and widely utilized. Although there had been little developments with the project we hope to get it launched over the next few months.

5. APIRG (Alberta Public Interest Research Group)

What it’s all about

The APIRG partnership is very new but we are hoping that it will flourish throughout the year. Located in HUB mall, APIRG is a campus based resource centre who’s main focus is community based research, education and social activism. We were approached by them in early September after they were impressed by our banned book collection that we displayed while we were tabling with CLA for Freedom to Read Week last February. APRIG has a small, but very unique collection of literature that they receive through donation and a small budget every year. We have offered to help them catalogue this material using the Edmonton Free Library and they are very excited in becoming more involved in 2010 Freedom to Read Week

6. Freedom to Read Week

What it’s all about

FLIF in collaboration with the CLA student chapter host’s Freedom to Read Week in February. We usually share a table in HUB mall and offer the campus community information on intellectual freedom and social responsibility, display recently banned or challenged books and provide walker’s by a brief history of the event. CLA and FLIF have in the past also made buttons and bookmarks that are sold at a very small fee (all proceeds go to GELA). More to come concerning this year’s events!

7. Benefit to Promote Canadian Literacy?

What it’s all about

We hope to build a new partnership with UBC’s Librarians Without Borders this New Year! We are open to fresh ideas on how to go about doing this, but so far we thought that a neat idea would be to have some sort of benefit event in Edmonton where the proceeds can go towards one of their current projects.

8. Call for 2010 Co-Chairs!

If you are interested in the co-chair position, please send one of us an email! Also let us know if you have any questions about the meeting or if you have any specific interest in any of the initiatives that we have discussed so far.
Brianna- berban @
Julie- jruel @
Madelaine- mvanderw @

OR flifblog @

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Another Amazing Homeless Connect!

This Sunday, October 4th, more than one thousand people showed up at the Shaw Conference Centre for the biannual Homeless Connect Edmonton Event. Attendees had access to a variety of services, including haircare, foot and dental care, taxes, free winter clothing, legal advice, and FLIF was there alongside the Greater Edmonton Library Association's Community Bookshelf Project. Our table was spread with a wide variety of free books, donated by EPL as well as personal donations, and we provided readers' advisory for people looking for a good read.

In total, 22 boxes of donated books were distributed, with 8 of those boxes going to the George Spady Centre and Boyle Street Community Services. We all had a great time talking books with the attendees and can't wait for the next event!

CBC has some coverage of the event here and the Edmonton Journal has a more in-depth article here.

We'll let you all know the date of the next one and we highly recommend volunteering as a great way to connect with the community.


Friday, October 02, 2009

"American Girl" Homeless Doll?

Wow! We're confused! How do we feel about the new "homeless" American Girldoll, Gwen?

Sickened? Disgusted? Or a great way to spend $95.00?

What do you think?

Read the article here.

"American Girl dolls are expensive and extremely popular - among the most sought-after toys among girls from ages four and up. Each doll comes with its own storyline, and a relatively new doll is causing quite a stir. "Gwen," which debuted this year, is portrayed as being homeless.

"I think it's really a good idea, because homelessness affects everybody, at different economic levels," Herb Smith, president of the Los Angeles Mission, remarked to Kauffman. "I actually think it's a good teaching tool."

Not so fast, say some homeless advocates, such as one who observed to Kauffman that she finds "the whole concept to be extremely disturbing. It's not a doll I would ever buy for a child."

There are between 7,000 and 10,000 homeless children in L.A. alone, Kauffman notes, and it's doubtful many, if any, could afford Gwen's $95 price tag."

Is this a good way to raise awareness about homelessness? Hmmm.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Anarchist Bookfair this Weekend

It's short notice but all of you intellectual freedom fans should really come check out the Edmonton Anarchist Bookfair this weekend, October 2-4 at the Edmonton Ukrainian Centre (11018 97 Street NW). This free event has been running since 2002, and provides the people of Edmonton with a chance to access radical information, to share ideas, and an opportunity to connect with like-minded folks. Independent documentaries will be screened, you can participate in skill-share workshops, and there will be tons of radical literature to browse through. And if you're not an anarchist, that's okay, because everyone is welcome!!!!

We're really excited about the opening speaker, Victoria (Vikki) Law, an activist and author who will speak about the issues faced by incarcerated women in Canada and the US, as well as women's resistance and organizing in prison. Law will facilitate a discussion on how people on the outside can support women in prison. This talk will be of particular interest to those involved or interested in the GELA Prison Project, and it would be great if members of the progressive library community in Edmonton could show up to participate in the discussion and share our experiences and initiatives with Law.

If you'd like to hear CJSR's Adamant Eve interview with Law (airing tomorrow at 5:30pm) click here.

Victoria Law is also the author of Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women, an absorbing legal and social analysis of the racism and sexism underlying the criminal justice system in America. Check out Radical Reference's review of the book here.

Bitch Magazine's Kari Lyderson interviewed Law for their Spring 2009 issue, read it here.

Finally, Vue Magazine has an article about Law in this week's issue.

Don't miss out! Unless (like some people) you have to work. Take notes please!