By Penny Goldsmith, former VCN president
In 1992, Brian Campbell got together a group of librarians and other community activists in the lower mainland of British Columbia who started meeting to talk about the internet and the importance of it being accessible to everyone. Brian recognized early on that a lot of people were going to be left out of this new online world unless there was a concerted and organized effort to make sure that that didn’t happen. In June of 1993, he chaired the founding meeting of the Vancouver Regional Freenet (now the Vancouver Community Network)
Brian was a leader in promoting free and equal access to information both inside and outside the library. He found a home for the Vancouver Freenet server at VPL. He made sure that there were public access computers devoted to the Freenet in the library and fought for them to stay there, even when they were being less and less used as people were starting to access their emails via commercial sites. He was instrumental in convincing libraries to make free public internet accessible across Canada.
Brian officially resigned from the Freenet board in 1995, but he never really left – he never left anything that mattered to him and that he believed in. He never stopped talking about universal public access to the internet and the ongoing danger of the digital divide, even after he retired from the library. In 2015 he was the recipient of the intellectual freedom award given out annually by the Canadian Library Association.
Brian Campbell died in December, 2016 in Vancouver, BC