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Edmonton Public Library Bans Sleeping in its Branches

The problem isn’t the EPL’s ban on sleeping at its branches – it’s a lack of day shelters and affordable housing in Edmonton. In the daytime, Edmonton Public Library’s Stanley Milner branch has become a hub for homeless individuals in the downtown area. In addition to being one of the few safe and inclusive spaces downtown where they feel welcome, Edmonton Public Library has developed a variety of programs and services at Stanley Milner Library to assist this vulnerable cross section of the population and improve their overall well being.


Because there isn’t a daytime shelter where the homeless can sleep during the day, some have resorted to sleeping in the library. This week, EPL decided to ban sleeping in all of its branches after a series of incidents involving homeless individuals at Stanley Milner branch. While some members of the community are upset with the decision, this story demonstrates that there is a persistent demand for day shelters and more affordable housing in the city. Paula Simons puts it perfectly in her comment piece on this topic in the Edmonton Journal a few days ago:
“Certainly, vulnerable, exhausted people deserve a warm, quiet place to rest during the day. But it’s not sensible to expect the library to function as a homeless hospice. That’s not its function or its responsibility. It’s unfair to library staff and to other patrons. Meanwhile, when the library fills the service gap, it enables the city, province and not-for-profit sector to ignore the desperate need for a proper day shelter.” (Simons, 2015)


Below are links to the original story in the Edmonton Journal about EPL’s sleeping ban and Paula Simons comment piece on this issue:


Simons, Paula. (April 15, 2015) Simons: Doqntown Edmonton needs a day shelter, but the library isn’t it. Retrieved from:
Simons, Paula. (2015)(April 13, 2015) No-sleeping rule at public libraries unwelcome change for Edmonton’s homeless. Retrieved from:

We must defend public libraries from the threat of a market-based ideological framework

“It is clear that the dominant logic which governs this area of public spending is not characterised by a concern for inequalities, community and inclusive access to information and literature. Rather, it is the logic of market values, profitability and a concern for “getting a good deal for the taxpayer” which is the criteria upon which this area of public spending is being judged.”

The full article can be found here:


Edmonton shows national solidarity at C-51 protest

On March 14th Edmontonians protested the controversial C-51, which many academics and legal experts have argued violates Canadian’s intellectual freedom and freedom of speech. The protest was one of many that occurred across Canada – with Edmontontians joining the 78,000 protestors across the country. Protest organizer Doug Yearwood was interviewed by the Edmonton Examiner:

Some of the potential outcomes from this bill are far reaching…It gives CSIS the ability to share and collect information with other intelligence agencies, but it also allows them the ability to act on their own accord and commit what is otherwise known as disruption tactics, act on their own volition and create a secret police, so to speak.

The first thing everyone should do is start having a conversation with your MP. Even if you didn’t vote for them or don’t agree with them, one of the most important things you can do is let your MP know where you sit on this issue.


Canadians can learn more about the bill at


Footage of the Bill C-51 Protest in Edmonton on March 14, 2015

New Guide on Challenges to Intellectual Freedom Related to Teen Library Services

Recently, ALA’s Young Adult Library Services (YALSA) released a guide book designed to help librarians deal with challenges to intellectual freedom in public libraries that prevent youth from accessing certain types of information. “Intellectual Freedom for Teens: A Practical Guide for Young Adult & School Librarians” was recently reviewed in the Journal of Radical Librarianship.

To read the full review, please visit

Bookish Britain: Literary Jobs are the Most Desirable.

A recent study of the most desirable jobs in the UK from early 2015 produced some intriguing results.  Unsurprisingly jobs like Hollywood movie star, Olympic athlete, doctor and lawyer were near the top of the list. However, the top three were comprised of author, librarian and academic (in that order) (YouGov 2015).  Arguably academic librarian, which combines elements of all three, might be the dream British job.  It should also be noted the exact question was “Generally Speaking, please say whether you would or would note like to do each of the following for a living” with a list of options provided.  As such the phrasing of the question may account for some of the appeal of the high placement of these intellectually oriented professions.

Beyond question phrasing though, the high placement of librarian is particularly curious given the situation facing public libraries in the UK.  In late 2014 the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) released its annual survey on libraries, showing declines in several areas including active borrowers, library visits, numbers of libraries, book holdings, expenditures and staff.

Highlights include:

  • The number of active borrowers fell 13.4% over the last two years.
  • The number of libraries fell 2.8% over the last two years.
  • The number of web visits fell 4.7% over the last five years (though there was some fluctuation and was not a consistent decline in each year).
  • The number of book holdings by libraries declined 20.1% over the last five years.
  • The total expenditure on libraries fell 6.7% over the last two years.
  • The number of FTE staff fell 22% over the past five years (the number of volunteers in libraries doubled over the same time period.)

The full set of statistics is available here:

Perhaps the findings of the first survey aren’t that surprising – many people would like to be librarians – but the reality is that there is increasingly less opportunity to do so in the UK.


YouGov. 2015 “Bookish Britain: Literary Jobs are the Most Desirable.”

Google’s slow fade with librarians

Librarians have been interested in the Google Books project since it began in 2004. It was a heady time to be an information worker. Google used to actively court libraries, and librarians…Then they said they were taking a break. A break? Just for the summer, they said, then didn’t update for a year. Maybe we should have taken a hint? But we were so sure that we were made for each other.”


Never trust a corporation to do a library’s job.

In a Medium article entitled “Never trust a corporation to do a library’s job,” former Kickstarter CTO Andy Baio examines how Google’s priorities are shifting from making information universally searchable and accessible to the sale of goods and information.

The business of Google stands in contrast to the Internet Archive. Google is in a perfect position to commodify information rather than make it free and open because it has shifted its business model from being a search engine to a content owner. Not only is its search enterprise supported by strategic ad placement, it is unknown whether Google gives priority to content it owns. It is arguable that there is a serious conflict of interest since Google no longer only serves up web results. The search giant owns YouTube and Google Play content and because the Google search algorithm is not publicly available, there is no way of truly knowing how information is prioritized.

Baio reminds us that Google is not a reliable archive and organizations like the Internet Archive are more committed to the democratization of information


Here are a few events we found that might be of interest to Edmonton PLG members. Know of others? Let us know!

Public Lecture:

Another Politics: Talking Across Today’s Transformative Movements

Thursday, January 29, 5:30-7:30pm

Senate Chamber, Old Arts Building, University of Alberta

Facebook event:

Recent decades have seen the exciting convergence of anti-authoritarian radicalism and broader-based movements in the U.S. and Canada. From this convergence, a growing set of activists – from anti-poverty organizers in Toronto to prison abolitionists in Oakland, from occupy activists in New York to migrant justice organizers in Vancouver – are developing shared politics and practices. They are building “another politics,” to use a Zapatista expression. These efforts combine anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist, anti-oppression politics with grassroots organizing among ordinary, non-activist people. Drawing on interviews with organizers across North America, this presentation will explore another politics and distill lessons for building effective, visionary movements.

Book Launch:

Another Politics: Talking Across Today’s Transformative Movements

Friday, January 30, at 7pm

Audreys Books, 10702 Jasper Avenue

Facebook event:

Another Politics: Talking Across Today’s Transformative Movements engages the anti-authoritarian current, a political tendency including abolitionists, anarchists, anti-racist feminists, autonomists, and many other radicals. Cutting across a wide range of left social movements in North America, this current is distinguished by its commitment to directly democratic structures, anti-oppression politics, explicit organization-building, prefigurative political practices, working for reforms while also pursuing revolution, and grassroots organizing.

Another Politics draws on dozens of interviews with experienced organizers across the U.S. and Canada. It traces the strands of movement and struggle that have led into the anti-authoritarian current, explores the defining principles and practices of another politics, and examines the visionary political approaches and questions that are emerging from the activities of this current. Building on collective reflections, this book also distills hard-earned lessons concerning anti-oppression politics, prefigurative praxis, strategy, organizing, leadership, and organization.

Film Festival:
Cinema and the Social Imaginary: Representing Capitalism and Beyond
Minus Degree Film Festival, January 29th   to March 26th

Intermedia Research Studio Tory Bldg 1-063 (University of Alberta main campus)

Festival screenings explore representations of the social imaginaries formed in capitalist cultures but also ask whether radical imaginaries for an autonomous society are possible and if so how.

The time of screenings is 7 PM.
Screenings will be followed by discussion, possibly in the nearest pub!

Jan 29th The Soviet Imaginary of Capitalism
Animated Soviet Propaganda   (Soviet Union, Dir: various, 1924-1984, 90 min)
What themes in this propagandist representation of capitalism are relevant today: what did the Soviets get right and what wrong?

Feb 5th Consumer Utopias in Post-sosicalism
Czech Dream (Czech Republic, Dir Vit Klusak, Philip Remuda, 2004, 90 min)
A  mockumentary about a mall that does not exist, asking questions of consumerism in post-socialist societies.

Feb  12th   Fascism, Xenophobia and Othering
The Wave (Germany, Dir. Dennis Gansel, 2008, 107 min)
A lesson of how we are what we pretend to be.

Feb 26th Alienation and Conflicts of Modernity
Sideways (Argentina, Dir. Gustavo Taretto, 2011, 95 min)
Lost in the big city exploring the dialectic of how separation could bring people together.

Mar 5th
Distant (Turkey, Dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2002, 110 min)
This film deals with urbanization, the loss of roots and the contrast between peasant culture and urban bourgeois culture.

Mar 12th New and Old Social imaginaries in the EU periphery: Balkans
California Dreamin’ (Romania, Dir. Cristian Nemescu, 2007, 155 min)
Will NATO reach its destination when memory and identity get on the way of the Big (Br)Other?

Mar 19th Colonization and Petro-cultures
Land of Oil and Water (Canada, Dir. Warren Cariou, Neil McArthur, 2009, 43 min)
Rhymes for Young Ghouls (Canada, Dir. Jeff Barnaby, 2013, 88 min)

Mar 26th Post-apocalyptic Predictions
Kin DzaDza (Soviet Union, Dir. Georgiy Daneliya, 1986, 135 min)

Soviet citizens of late socialism end up on a planet with highly developed technology but barbaric social relations.