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Library Link: Libraries are essential public spaces

Freedom to Read Week is happening right now across Canada.
Libraries create public space for communities. Pictured: Caregivers and children at a Creative Hands and Minds program.

Freedom to Read Week is happening right now across Canada.

In last week’s column, we talked about book banning and briefly about Article 19 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, which stats:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

What this declaration looks like in real life, is that each one of us has the right to read what we wish without forcing our beliefs on other people and what they chose to read.

This week, we’d like to discuss libraries as public spaces.

Public spaces are deeply historical, going back as far as human memory.

For millennia, cultures have allowed for the public space to discuss, to plan, and to share stories, it’s one of the cornerstones of civil society.

Think of town squares, talking circles, or ancient amphitheatres, each providing the space to discuss a wide variety of topics.

Libraries hold to the principle of an open and welcoming space for all people, making them a place where public culture is built and lived.

They create a deep sense of attachment and attract all ages and language groups, regardless of educational, financial, or social status.

Libraries are social hubs for the communities they’re in, and everything from the latest child-rearing techniques to healthcare issues to overseas travel trips can be heard being discussed in small groups of parents or among friends and new acquaintances.

They are one of the last few spaces where you can go and sit without fear of someone suggesting you move along or pushing you to buy something.

In an age of isolation and polarization created in large part by the silos and echo chambers of social media, the public space is even more important to society.

For more information on your library, visit


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