British Columbia Library Association

‘Brian has both led and showed us how to take public leadership on public policy and intellectual freedom issues’

By Nancy Hannum

Brian Campbell was a long-time friend, neighbour, and colleague. Despite our many hours of BCLA committee meetings, my favourite memories of Brian are of being in the neighbourhood as we watched our kids grow up. In earlier years, we often took the same bus downtown and spent the whole trip checking in on the health and well-being of all the local kids—our own and others. Brian was at heart a family man.

Meanwhile, we know him as a leader in librarianship, applying our core values of intellectual freedom and public access to information within the library world and in the wider society. Not only was he able to track the development of new technologies, but more importantly he had the vision to provide leadership in responding to the public policy issues raised by tech changes. These cutting edge issues challenge all libraries to learn and adapt. But Brian took his analysis further by applying his skills to a new concept of “Information Policy,” which becomes more critical every day. We saw this in his work on Access to Information and Protection of Privacy legislation in British Columbia, to the development of Vancouver FreeNet, and to intellectual freedom issues on the net.

Brian Campell in the 1980s. Photo provided by Vancouver Public Library.

Brian Campbell, 1980s. Provided by Vancouver Public Library.

Brian had a very demanding day job at Vancouver Public Library as Director of Systems and Special Projects, but information policy work from the side of his desk was always present and equally demanding in his life as a librarian. His leadership on these issues was exercised across the country, and he brought the social concerns of information professionals to all types of libraries and governments alike.

Brian has both led and showed us how to take public leadership on public policy and intellectual freedom issues. This is true leadership: to empower your colleagues to continue the work with the same awareness, passion, and skills. Life well lived my friend.


Nancy Hannum was head of the Legal Resource Centre, Legal Services Society until 2002, President of BCLA from 1991-1992, founding member of the First Nations Interest Group, and member of Information Policy, Government Publications, and Intellectual Freedom Committees.

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