January 22, 2022

Toronto City Librarian Releases Statement on Hate Graffiti Found on Library Property

From the CBC:

The Toronto Public Library will “​stand up against hate speech,” according to a statement from city librarian Vickery Bowles after hate graffiti was found recently on library property.

City Librarian @vbowlestpl speaks out against hate graffiti found on library branch. Please RT or share your own. https://t.co/PU5fmcSBxR

The anti-Semitic graffiti was scrawled on the window of the Mimico Centennial branch. It was quickly removed by someone in the community before staff could take action.

The incident was reported to staff on Nov. 14.

Read the Complete CBC Article

Full Text of Statement by Vickery Bowles, Toronto City Librian:

I was recently notified that anti-Semitic graffiti was scrawled on a window of one of our branches. The hate graffiti on the window was quickly removed by someone in the community before even staff could take action. Nevertheless the deed was done. Police were notified. Additional hate graffiti was found at other locations within the community.

Toronto Public Library champions values underpinning a democratic society including free, open and equitable access to a diversity of information and ideas, civic engagement, intellectual freedom and freedom of speech. However, support for free speech does not translate into tolerance for hate speech.

Public libraries have been a democratizing force in the modern world, supporting a civil society. In this 21st century world in which we live, we are seeing more and more challenges to our democratic values and principles in Canada and throughout the world. Now, more than ever, it is important for all of us to stand up to defend those values, especially when challenges come knocking at our door.

I never really thought I would have to write a statement such as this because I never really anticipated such a challenge would come to the public library in this great city.

I am standing up to say that defacing the public library with messages of hate will not be tolerated. This isn’t just about the public library, this is about the community, the city and country in which we live, work and raise our families. These kinds of messages threaten everything a civil society stands for, everything the public library stands for. The public library is a welcoming, inclusive public space that supports the social justice principles of equity and inclusion. I will – indeed all of us at Toronto Public Library – will stand up against hate speech whenever it comes knocking at our door. This city, this country, our democracy, are too valuable to do otherwise.

See Also: Swastikas, Anti-Semitic Messages Seen Around Toronto (via The Star)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.