2018 Annual Meeting (to be posted)
b. 1919, SK; d. Oct. 26, 2005, Toronto, ON
MA (University of Saskatchewan)
BLS (University of Toronto)
1947 Education Director, People’s Educational Co-op, Winnipeg; 6 months as Assistant Editor, The Westerner
Children’s Librarian, Fraser Valley Regional Library
1953- Victoria Public Library
1954-1958 Yorkton, SK Librarian rural school library service
1958-1960 Kitimat, BC First professional librarian
1961-1965 Head Librarian, North York branch
1965-1982 Associate Professor, Faculty of Library and Information Science, University of Toronto
Marshall, John M. ed. (1984).“Citizen participation in library decision-making: the Toronto experience. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press.
1998 British Columbia Association presented Marshall with a plaque and renamed the association`s intellectual freedom award in his honour.
Institute of Professional Librarians of Ontario, President
Freedom to Read, Chairman
Canadian Library Association; Committee on Training Library Technicians
Teaching areas included: adult education, public libraries, community development, services to the disadvantaged, Canadian resources in the social sciences. Coordinated Course 1510 Social environment and libraries.
“All John Maitland Marshall wanted to do was help people get books from Victoria’s new bookmobile, but in 1954, he found himself at the centre of a major controversy and a victim of the Red Scare that reached into Canada - and its libraries. Marshall was fired two months, before the mobile service even hit the road. He lost his job because of his past.
He was well qualified for the Job … with a Master`s in English from the University of Saskatchewan and a Bachelor of Library Science from the University of Toronto.” But these qualifications did not matter to the Victoria Pubic Library Board. What mattered was that “a group public-spirited citizens” as the board put it, “ had uncovered some dirt in his past.”
Prior to going to Victoria,” Marshall had been educational director of the People’s Educational Co-op in Winnipeg in 1947 and spent six months as assistant editor of the Westerner, a leftist paper. He had attended the Canadian Peace Congress in Toronto in 1949, 1950 and 1951- and the Congress many believed was a Communist front. Because of that Marshall was fired. He learned of his dismissal when it was reported in the Victoria Daily Times. Marshall appealed the firing saying that he was not, and never had been a card-carrying member of the Labour Progressive Party, which had been linked to the communists. He said that he had ceased any public connection with political matters when he decided to become a professional librarian.” He also took aim at the “public spirited citizens” who had accused him saying that “groups or individuals which carry on secret investigations into a man’s beliefs and past associations and put pressure on his employers to fire a fully qualified employee, without giving him the opportunity to defend himself, are undermining our democratic freedoms.” The board stood its ground and held a review to” find and remove subversive pro-communist books from the library” and the mayor “declared that he would support the burning of any subversive literature.” Others said that subversive literature should be removed and staff who belonged to Communist organizations “will go out behind the books.” There was an outcry and supporters lined up on both sides. W.A.C. Bennett, the premier of the province at the time, said the book burning “would be a bunch of foolishness” and threw his support behind Marshall. Further support came from The Daily Colonist, the Victoria Daily Times and the Vancouver Sun. The library staff association also defended Marshall. It so happened that as Marshall was fired only a few days were left in the library board’s annual term. Ultimately, He was given a chance to argue his case before the new board the following week. Marshall made a valiant attempt but it failed and his firing was confirmed. The chief librarian resigned in protest and the BC Library Association held a meeting and wrote a letter of recommendation in support of Marshall and urged its members to refuse positions at the Victoria Public Library until a new board was in place. By May 1954, 6 of the 11 full-time professional librarians had resigned and the library had been unable to replace them. After his firing Marshall took his family to Yorkton, SK where he got a job with a rural school library service. After four years there, he spent two years as the first professional librarian in Kitmat, BC, moving to Toronto where he became head of a North York branch. This was followed by 17 years as a professor at the Faculty of Library and Information Science, University of Toronto. Forty-four years later, in 1998 the board of the Greater Victoria Public Library apologized to Marshall, flying him and his wife to Victoria so he could receive the apology in person and receive a plaque in his honour.
His obituary, written by his family, described him as “a passionate bibliophile and ardent supporter of social justice”.
“Red Scare ensnared city’s first bookmobile librarian. “ Times Colonist, Sunday, April 29, 2012.
“Planned library ‘purge’ meets storm of protest.” Victoria Daily Times, Wed. Jan 21, 1954. (an insert in the Times Colonist Article).
“Library board apologizes to man fired for beliefs”. The Globe and Mail, Nov. 21, 1998.