Just Getting Started

"The contribution made by the Edmonton libraries to the sanity and support of the citizens cannot be estimated. No Annual Report can gauge things of this sort." -Annual Report of the Edmonton Public Library, 1931 The Edmonton Public Library turns 100 in 2013! Novelist, journalist, and Edmontonian Todd Babiak tells the story of EPL's birth and coming of age within the bustling narrative of the growth of city and province. Rich with anecdotes and historical photos, records of personal conversations, and tales of expeditions to branch libraries, Just Getting Started immerses readers in a personal journey to the heart of culture in one of Canada's biggest cities. Babiak's history is one-of-a-kind; it reads like a novel, mirroring the institution it commemorates. Edmontonians, librarians, politicians, and historians may glimpse themselves within these pages; all will see how vital a successful public library is to reflecting the needs and aims of a diverse population.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Front Cover 1
Title Page 4
Copyright 5
Dedication 6
Epigraph 8
Contents 10
Acknowledgements 12
Foreword | Linda C. Cook 14
1 Without a library, is a city a city? 18
2 Permanence and maturity and pride 26
3 The richest man in the world 32
4 A repository for Edmonton-ness? 42
5 A big city negotiation 46
6 Above the liquor store and meat shop 56
7 Edmonton's acropolis 72
8 "We're bigger than out buildings" 84
9 Tough times in the "Rome of the West" 98
10 From the library to the street - and the legislature 104
11 A firecracker of a man 114
12 The violinist with a broom 126
13 A centre of culture 132
14 Gourlay's error 138
15 Call me Bill 148
16 The first branch 152
17 That tiny Carnegie library on the hill 164
18 The fight against the fleshpots 172
19 Mid-century modern 182
20 Sex 194
21 The Carnegie of Edmonton 198
22 The dominion of the mall 206
23 You're our expert. Build the library. 210
24 Big Brother in Edmonton 220
25 That brilliant, sunny Saturday afternoon 226
26 Then the Sixties happened 234
27 Phantom Edmonton 238
28 All it needed was a lava lamp 244
29 Something called "Alberta culture" 250
30 An off-season Santa Claus 258
31 Freedom of expression 262
32 Lougheed, Trudeau and the busiest library on the continent 266
33 Public libraries are going to die 276
34 Someone fabulous 280
35 Free to all 286
36 The girl from Bonnie Doon 294
37 What is the opposite of threadbare 298
38 The mayor who changed everything 306
39 How to be an Edmontonian 310
40 A terrible shame to lose a reader 318
41 To launch a new generation of readers 328
A Timeline of the Edmonton Public Library 330
Notes 344
Select Bibliography 358
Index 360
About the Author 377
Other Titles from University of Alberta Press 378