Contested Spaces

A Critical History of Canadian Public Libraries as Neutral Places, 1960-2020

Author: Whitney Kemble

Price: TBD

Expected: May 2024

ISBN: 978-1-63400-158-8

186 pages

Contested Spaces is the first comprehensive and critical history of controversial events at Canadian public libraries, and an examination of the real-world impacts of neutrality policies in Canadian public library space use. What events at public libraries in Canada have created controversies and prompted protests? What were the issues at stake? What kinds of outcry or protest occurred? Did politicians get involved? Did the events happen, or did they get cancelled, and why? What kinds of impacts or outcomes resulted? This book answers these questions and brings the Canadian historical context into the ongoing conversations that are critiquing the concept of neutrality in libraries. It considers relevant librarian perspectives alongside critical theories to interrogate the myth of library neutrality, and to seek positive and productive ways for libraries to engage with and serve their communities that honour library values and foster inclusivity, care, safety, and social justice.

Whitney Kemble is the Liaison Librarian for Historical and Cultural Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough. She has a BA in History and English from the University of Victoria, and Master’s degrees in History and Information Studies from the University of Toronto. Her interests include critical librarianship, social justice in libraries, abolition, fat liberation, and privacy rights and surveillance. She runs the seed library at UTSC and enjoys working on the campus farm. Whitney also does labour work with the University of Toronto Faculty Association to resist neoliberal encroachments in higher education and improve working conditions for her colleagues. In the Scarborough community she has volunteered and done community-engaged research with a local organization providing supports and services for formerly incarcerated women.