LJ: Press Sues Librarian Over Negative Evaluation

AMAZING. Something about this seems so wrong. Dale Askey wrote a guest post for TTW after I met him at the Future of Academic Libraries Symposium. Take a look at this LJ piece for the details and follow the links:

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/02/litigation/press-sues-librarian-over-negative-evaluation/

In 2010, Dale Askey was a tenured associate professor at Kansas State University (K-State) when he made a blog post about Edwin Mellen Press. Since removed from the blog, but available via the Internet Archive, the post called Mellen a “dubious publisher,” saying that the press occasionally publishes a worthy title and is not technically a vanity publisher, but that “much of what they publish is simply second-class scholarship.”

Askey removed the post in March 2012, something he told LJ “was a personal choice.” Three months later, Edwin Mellen Press filed two libel lawsuits in Ontario’s Superior Court. (Neither suit has yet received a court date; for the court filing and the most current updates, see Gary Price’s roundup on infoDOCKET.com)

The first, asking some $3.5 million in damages, is against not only Askey, but McMaster University, where Askey is now employed as associate university librarian, even though it is Askey’s personal blog and he was not employed by McMaster at the time of the posting. The rationale is that because McMaster employs Askey and did not require him to remove the blog post or comments, then the university “adopted the defamatory statements as their own.”

The second suit, aimed only at Askey, names press founder Herbert Richardson as plaintiff and alleged additional defamatory remarks about him personally. The press is holding Askey and McMaster responsible for comments made by others to the post; interestingly, neither those commenters nor Kansas State University are named party to the suit.

Edwin Mellen Press had not, at press time, responded to LJ’s inquiry as to why they were not named.

snip

Askey is currently paying his own legal bills for both suits. He told LJ that he wrote to K-State on January 16, to ask whether the university might have insurance that could assist with costs. Not having received a response, he followed up with a phone call around January 31. He then received an email from the university’s internal counsel, “noting that Kansas State carries no liability insurance and that tort claims are handled by the Kansas Tort Claims Act,” and referring Askey to the Kansas Attorney General’s office. He also wrote to K-State’s President and Provost, asking them to consider making a statement on the matter, but has not yet received a response. At press time, K-State had also not yet replied to LJ’s request for comment.

Less tangible support is pouring in for Askey from a number of corners, including the Canadian Library AssociationProgressive Librarians Guild Toronto Area Chapter, the Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians, the library chapter of the York University Faculty Association,BoingBoingGawker, and more than 1,100 signers, at press time, of a petition at Change.org. However, Askey says there is not, at least not yet, any effort to crowdfund his legal defense.

Sign the peteition here:

https://www.change.org/petitions/edwin-mellen-press-end-libel-suit-against-dale-askey-and-mcmaster-university

Love this comment:

Patti Ryan TORONTO, CANADA

Informed evaluation of publisher quality is a central part of the work of academic librarians. This is a frivolous, misguided attack on academic freedom.

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