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: