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Freedom to Read 2024: The Right to Respect with John Ibbitson

Freedom to Read Week is an annual event, taking place February 18-24, 2024. This week provides Canadians with the opportunity to discuss book challenges, censorship, representation in literature, intellectual freedom, access to information and the literary community’s and library's role. It serves as an opportunity to reaffirm Canadians commitment to intellectual freedom and the fight for on-going access for all against all threats to that access either through book challenges, the digital divide or otherwise.

The Ottawa Public Library’s (OPL) Mission is to inspire learning, spark curiosity, and connect people; our core values are Community, Inclusion, Integrity, Intellectual Freedom, and Literacy.

This is why it is important to us to participate in Freedom to Read Week. OPL takes a stance against limitations of lawful freedom of expression, including freedom to read.

Freedom to read means freedom to see an author’s words as they were written.

Yet censors increasingly seek to bowdlerize or even ban books old and new because they offend one sensibility or another. John will examine the various fronts in the war against words: efforts to excise uncomfortable paragraphs from P.G. Wodehouse or Agatha Christie, proscribing Huckleberry Finn and other books because of their language or narrative; campaigns by the religious right to keep books that explore LGBTQ relationships out of schools. He will talk about how parents, teachers, and librarians can place older works in context for younger readers, and how we can keep books on shelves that enlighten and entertain, even if some of their sentiments lie outside our time.

Q & A with the audience to follow.

Free event.

This is a hybrid event: the program is in-person, but we will also stream live on OPL's YouTube page.

Registration is for the in-person portion of the event.

Time: 7pm – 8:15 pm, book signing/meet and greet following the event

John Ibbitson, #1 bestselling author and Writer-at-Large for The Globe and Mail, is a grounded and compelling voice who speaks to the most important factors influencing human life: declining populations, immigration, the environment, and how our work and lifestyles will change in relation to these factors. In his optimistic, scrupulously researched talks, Ibbitson shows us how to position ourselves to successfully navigate these coming demographic shifts—with an openness that is more critical to our survival than ever.

In a career spanning three decades, Ibbitson has worked as a reporter and columnist for the Ottawa Citizen, Southam News, the National Post, and, since 1999, The Globe and Mail. He also served as the Globe’s Queen’s Park bureau chief, Washington bureau chief and Ottawa bureau chief, becoming Chief Political Writer in 2012 and Writer at Large in 2015. His career of covering, analyzing, and commenting on Canadian and American politics is unmatched by any other journalist. Ibbitson’s previous book, Stephen Harper: A Biography, is an unsparing insider’s look at how Canada’s 22nd Prime Minister changed the nation, for better and for worse. It was a finalist for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction and winner of the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing.