The School of Information Management (SIM) is very pleased to announce that Dr. Ann Curry will be joining us as a Researcher-in-Residence for the month of March, 2011. Dr. Curry has a BLS (AB), an MLS (UBC), and a PhD in Information Studies from the University of Sheffield. Dr. Curry is past director of the School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta, and is currently on study leave from the School. Dr. Curry had a lengthy career as a public librarian before joining academe, which resulted in her life-long advocacy of the public library as a key information forum and intellectual freedom bastion.
Dr. Curry’s library career began in 1969 when she was assigned to teach English and math at a very impoverished Chinese school in rural Malaysia. There were no public or school libraries in the entire northern state near the Thailand border. Concerned about her students’ lack of access to the resources they needed, Dr. Curry started a small school library in an empty office, with books sent by sea from her parents in Canada and with books gathered from the local Peace Corps volunteers.
Dr. Curry worked as a librarian at the Energy Resources Conservation Board in Calgary, and business librarian at Edmonton Public Library, where she assumed also responsibility for all staff training and orientation within the Reference Department, and worked in the Children’s department. Dr. Curry was program chair of the Grant MacEwan College library technician program in late 1975, and branch manager of Southgate Library, Edmonton’s busiest branch. With only 7800 square feet, the branch circulated approximately 60,000 items per month. While president of the Library Association of Alberta, Dr. Curry advocated the Association’s anti-censorship policy in discussions and media events regarding Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses and regarding the legal but controversial Holocaust revisionist materials mentioned during the Keegstra trial.
Dr. Curry joined the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies program at the University of British Columbia (UBC) 1990 where, over the next 18 years, she was awarded the UBC Killam Teaching Award and the ALISE Award for Teaching Excellence. During Dr. Curry’s recent term as Director of the University of Alberta School of Library and Information Studies, she initiated and guided a complete review of the School’s curriculum, revitalized the international visiting scholar program, introduced a new International Librarianship course, and completely revamped the optional 3-week Practicum course as an online course that facilitated placements outside the province and the country for the first time. Ever the intellectual freedom advocate, Dr. Curry arranged for the creation and delivery of Canada’s first online Intellectual Freedom course.
Dr. Curry is currently completing research on the phenomenon of the “heckler’s veto,” the threatened or actual disruption of a speaker in the public arena that results in the cancellation or truncation of a public speech. The heckler’s veto has been exercised on Canadian and American university campuses and in public libraries many times over the past twenty years, always accompanied by controversy. The veto by threat of violence from protestors or by the noise of actual shouting down the speaker is considered by some to be a right of free speech under the Canadian Charter, while others consider the veto an undemocratic act of censorship. Dr. Curry is analyzing all sides of this complex issue under American and Canadian law and as played out in public forums.
While at Dalhousie, Dr. Curry will be engaging with scholars both in law and in library/information science to further explore the heckler’s veto, and she welcomes conversations with students and faculty members about any intellectual freedom topic. She can be reached in her office in SIM or via her email – email@example.com.