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Freedom to Read Week

Posted: February 19th, 2016


Every year in Canada books are challenged, censored or banned. Some challenges have been upheld while others have been rejected. Freedom to Read Week is an annual event that encourages Canadians to think about censorship and intellectual freedom.

You may be surprised to learn that these books have been challenged in Canada. How many have you read?

tiled books

Find out more about Freedom to Read Week.  Visit displays in Bracken, Education, Engineering Science, Jordan or Stauffer libraries. Drop by a pop-up event in Stauffer Library on Monday, February 22nd from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. or on Wednesday, February 24th from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. Attend a Harry Potter Reading event on Friday, February 26th from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the 1923 Reading Room otherwise known as the “Harry Potter Room” located on the top floor of Douglas Library.


Your organizing committee enjoyed selecting the various banned or challenged books in the displays across the library. Here are some of their further reflections on the questions: As you were researching Freedom to Read Week, were you surprised by any of the banned or challenged books? Do you have a favourite banned or challenged book?

Kim Bell, W.D. Jordan Special Collections I was extremely surprised to find that Braille books had been banned. Although Braille is a typeface and not a particular title, I was astonished to learn that c.1838, the director of the Institution for Blind Children, P. Armand Dufau, didn’t agree with Braille and burned some 73 books that had been embossed. To ensure that the students stopped using Braille, he also confiscated the slates, styli, and other Braille-writing equipment. The students rebelled, however, and secretly used knitting needles, nails and other implements. The older students taught the system to the younger students and, eventually, the ban was lifted. I am not a big fan of comic sans, but could never imagine burning books that contained it!

My favorite banned book is the Diviners. I had to read it in high school, and there was much discussion around it being banned in the 1970’s. There is nothing like telling a class of teen-agers that the supporters of the ban felt that the book “reeked of sordidness” in order to get them to read! I feel bad that it became a personal attack on Laurence—that never should have been allowed to happen.

Anne Newman, Adaptive Technology Centre, Stauffer Library I was surprised to learn that Laura Ingalls Wilders’ On the Banks of Plum Creek was challenged in 1997 by parents in the Fort Garry Division, Winnipeg concerned  the content of the book used offensive references to Aboriginal and First Nation individuals.  The School Superintendent responded that “stories like this are an important part of our history on this continent.  Simply eradicating them from shelves does not seem to be the answer”.

We have read the series of novels as a family.  I understand the concern regarding inappropriate references, and I understand the statement of the Superintendent.  They are valuable recollections from the past, the context of which should be respected by the reader.

Amy Rutherford, Education Library When looking for the children’s books that have been banned or challenged I was surprised to see Dr. Seuss’ Hop on Pop.  Apparently it was challenged by a patron of the Toronto Public Library who thought it promoted violence because it “encourages children to use violence against their fathers.”  You never know what will offend people.

The Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munroe is a book that I have read at least twice in different English Classes.  It was not necessarily my favourite book, but one that has always stayed with me because it is so honestly written and provoking.  It was challenged because of its “explicit language and descriptions of sex scenes”.   I think it probably scared teachers at that time because she wrote a female heroine who was not “stereotypically feminine”.

Jillian Sparks, W.D. Jordan Special Collections I was surprised to find that Francois Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel was banned in the United States until 1930—four centuries after the first part was printed! It caught me off guard to find that classic and many other canonical works have been banned or challenged. My favourite challenged work is Captain Underpants (1997) by Dav Pilkey, a silly little novel that was the number one challenged book in 2012 and 2013. Apparently, some people just can’t appreciate a good fart joke.

Peter Waldron, Bracken Library It never surprise me that objections, complaints, and negative views seem to carry more weight and are of greater value than positive views.  This trend of a “culture of complaining” is both perplexing and tiresome.  My favorite challenged book is The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) by Margret Attwood.  Got to love a good dystopia fiction.  If we are not careful such “Dystopian fiction” could become “Dystopian fact”.

Improved IT Services for Queen’s Libraries

Posted: February 19th, 2016

Stauffer and Douglas Libraries have been provided with improved wireless upgrades!


To learn more about these improvements in service, please read the story here.

Quiet Writing Time for Faculty and Post Docs: Registration open

Posted: February 18th, 2016

Registration for Quiet Writing Time is now open!

Monthly Friday mornings have been set aside at the Fireplace Reading Room, Stauffer Library, for faculty and post docs to get together and quietly write.  Dates include:

  • February 26, 8am-noon
  • March 18, 8am-noon
  • April 29, 8am-noon
  • May 27, 8am-noon
  • June 24, 8am-noon

Please visit the Quiet Writing Time registration page to register, and please share this information with your faculty and post doc colleagues.  Questions may be directed to Yolande Chan, Associate Vice-Principal (Research).

Falling Canadian dollar raises longstanding issue of journal costs

Posted: February 9th, 2016

Research libraries in universities across the country are experiencing severe budget pressures owing to the weakening Canadian dollar combined with the extraordinarily high costs of international scholarly journals. In response to this, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) has released a communique, Falling Canadian dollar raises longstanding issue of journal costs. This communication complements information about our cost reduction strategy at Queen’s University Library.

Keynote speaker at Inquiry@Queen’s 2016 is Dr. Arthur McDonald

Posted: February 4th, 2016

We are very pleased to announce the keynote speaker for I@Q this year will be Professor Emeritus Arthur McDonald, co-winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in physics.

We hope you will join us for the keynote on March 11, and for the many other exciting presentations, posters and events. A full schedule of events will follow.

Undergraduate students who would like to share their research, projects and experiential learning experiences with the Queen’s community and beyond are invited to submit an abstract.  For more information see our website.

Quiet Writing Time for Faculty and Post-Docs at the Library

Posted: January 25th, 2016

We are pleased to announce that we are teaming up with The Office of the Vice-Principal (Research) to offer communal space for quiet writing on a monthly basis to Queen’s faculty and post-docs. These quiet writing times are in response to faculty feedback expressing an interest in having time and library space to gather to write on a regular basis.

This space will be offered once a month on Friday mornings in the Fireplace Reading Room in Stauffer Library for the rest of the academic year. The first quiet writing time will be held this Friday, January 29, from 8 am – noon.

In addition to this Friday, writing times for faculty and post-docs are scheduled from 8 am-noon on the following dates:

Friday, February 26

Friday, March 18,

Friday, April 29

Friday, May 27

Friday, June 24

Space is limited, and registration is recommended to ensure a spot. To register for January 29 writing session on please click here: http://queensu.fluidsurveys.com/surveys/kelly-blair-matuk/quiet-writing-time-january-29/

Questions and suggestions may be directed to Yolande Chan at ychan@queensu.ca.

Deadline Extended: I@Q Undergraduate Research Conference – Call for Proposals

Posted: January 25th, 2016

The deadline for the submission of proposals to the Inquiry@Queen’s Undergraduate Research Conference has been extended to February 5 at 4:30 pm.

We are inviting undergraduate students from any discipline with research results to share to submit an abstract for the 10th annual conference to be held March 10 and 11th in the Queen’s Learning Commons, Stauffer Library.

We hope you will take part in this conference. Your participation provides the opportunity to:

  • share your research with the Queen’s community
  • experience an academic conference
  • enhance graduate and career skills including critical thinking, effective writing and presentation skills
  • engage in scholarly communication with students and faculty from many disciplines.

For more information on submitting a proposal, see our website.

For questions, please contact iatq@queensu.ca

Live-In for Literacy at Stauffer library this week

Posted: January 25th, 2016

From January 25-January 31, 2016, Queen’s University students Sean Kim and Eric Sandham will live, eat, and sleep in the Joseph S. Stauffer Library for seven consecutive days to raise funds and awareness for world literacy and gender equality in education. This is part of the annual campaign Live-In for Literacy, which was started at Queen’s University in 2005.

A tent will be set up for the campers in the atrium of Stauffer Library. Kim and Sandham will be staying at the campsite for the entirety of the following week, leaving only to go to class and to shower. In addition to engaging with library patrons, university and community members, the campers will also be holding daily activities including faculty competitions, free tea, and interactive games.

“This is a cause that I identify with personally so I’m super excited to be able to contribute,” says Amelia Zheng, a fifth year Concurrent Education student and Co-Chair of Room to Read, Queen’s Chapter.

This is the eleventh year that the event has taken place and has proven to be very successful in the past. Queen’s students have shown interest in learning about the amazing cause and contributed to fundraising.

All proceeds from Live-In for Literacy support Room to Read and their programs in school and library construction, girls’ education, local language publishing, teacher training and curriculum development in developing areas of Asia and Africa. Those wishing to donate are asked to visit the campsite during the event, or http://roomtoread.kintera.org/Canada/queens for other donation methods. Tax receipts will be provided by request for donations of $20 and over.

Robert Burns Day Pop-Up Exhibit on January 25th

Posted: January 20th, 2016

Celebrate Robert Burns Day with Special Collections next Monday, January 25th, from 11:00am to 2:00pm. We will have several editions of Burns’ poems on display and free buttons to give away in Stauffer Library! But don’t forget to stop by our Reading Room in Douglas Library for a closer look at Burns’ very own chair and more books! All are welcome!


New Exhibit: Vero Wynne-Edwards and the 1937 MacMillan-Thebaud Expedition

Posted: January 14th, 2016

The Jeannie and Vero Wynne-Edwards Book Collection consists of over 1800 books, pamphlets, periodical and ephemeral pieces in the field of natural history. It was the working library of Vero C. Wynne-Edwards (1906-1997) C.B.E, F.R.S., Regis Professor of Natural History, University of Aberdeen, 1946-1974. This exhibit focuses on a selection of material from the Queens Archives and W.D. Jordan Special Collections Library.

Curated by Morag Coyne, Undergraduate Services Librarian, Engineering and Science Library


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