Tuesday, October 16, 2007

No Garbage

They picked up the garbage today. I suppose I should be happy. But I'm not. They picked up the garbage and we can all swim in the pools again. Little people will find their preschools open. But I am not happy.

We still have no libraries. It has been three months and we are getting desperate.

People don't always get it when I say we are in trouble at my house without the library. I have attempted to redecorate our bathroom without the benefit of free magazines and brilliant art and decor tomes from any of the 22 branches I request send me one. My son has spent the three months from one year staring at me daily without a moment's relief to publicly flail about to Johnny Works with One Hammer while giggling uncontrollably. These things matter to me.

I think about my former coworkers suffering through three months with no pay. People who are fighting to see that this city pay those who shelve copies of The Englishman's Boy after its 387th circulation as much as the folks who file the parking ticket payments.

I think too about my early days and my introduction to library patrons. I worked at the old Central Branch newspaper desk and man, we had the regulars. What are those guys doing now? The smoky old guy who habitually reads the Irish Times. The lady who did the crosswords in The Province everyday even though she wasn't supposed to and even though we 'busted her ass' for it everyday. What about that homeless man with the green coat, his tent in a tube on his back and that startlingly handsome face? Is he just reading 24hrs now? Never mind all the unemployed who would be otherwise offered job workshops from the Business Division? Forget those new Canadians out to cram for their citizenship tests at their local branch. Let the children rely upon the Internet for all the answers.

Quite possibly those blank stares we get when we say the library strike affects us masks the fact that this isn't only a problem at my house? I think people may forget what libraries are. They are our common space. They are a social contract to share knowledge. Amazingly the terms of this contract stipulate a free exchange. So free it seems that sometimes the public forgets it does cost some money to raise a library above the standards of dusty book warehouse. We forget that libraries began as private enterprises and that at some point this society determined that was wrong; that instead we might all invest in a common enterprise of knowledge and need and talk and quiet and song and learning with no admission fees. Whither the investment Mayor Sullivan?

This week the CUPE 391 Library Workers' President said "we're all about social justice". I'm a skeptic so I wondered if that was true. It made me turn over all my insider and outsider information about this strike. It made me think of it and want to say what I know and feel is so poorly understood. It's true, libraries are all about social justice. No garbage in that statement. I hope our libraries can get their fifteen minutes this week. But in my own interest I hope it is no longer than that.

For more you can visit the Local's website here, maybe even sign the petition or at least check out all the neat links there. If you don't live in the Vancouver area do me a favour and love your library tomorrow, I'll be green with envy.

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7 Comments:

Blogger Lumpyheadsmom said...

Library. Tomorrow. Got it.

2:27 PM  
Blogger mamakie said...

Well said. I'm sorry you've had to go so long without your library. Will get to the library here in small town BC for you this week.

5:19 PM  
Blogger nonlineargirl said...

Wow, it is kind of hard to imagine not having the library. I definitely rely on ours, both the local as a destination for a Sunday or Tuesday afternoon, and for my "I need this book now please" online requests.

I hope the strike ends soon and well.

5:42 PM  
Anonymous cheesefairy said...

I miss that old Central branch. I did all my high school papers there.

These days I frequent the oldest library in BC (or so the sign claims...) and it is a delight. Also they're having a book sale the 26/27 of October if you fancy a hell of a lot of transit.

5:54 AM  
Blogger Bon said...

funny, i'm reading this from within my library. where, by accident of office space at the university, i happen to work.

i've learned a lot working here about what libraries are for...and three months? yikes.

loving my library today. hope you can soon, too.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Sherri said...

I can't IMAGINE life without our libraries!

6:03 PM  
Anonymous crunchycarpets said...

We hit the burnaby library and spent $250 bucks at kidzbooks!!!

10:05 AM  

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