Freedom of expression, free access to information, and the right to explore others’ opinions and judge for oneself, free from intimidation and fear – these are cornerstones of public library philosophy, and the bedrock guarantees on which our democracy rests.
Last week, library policy, public safety and the law were challenged in the Airdrie Public Library by a small group of anti-maskers who were intent on bullying others to make a point. In doing so, they jeopardized the ability of their fellow citizens to inform themselves on electoral issues, and they put library staff, other attendees, and democracy at risk.
The Sept. 8 Coffee with the Candidates federal election event was well-attended by citizens and candidates alike, with all but one Banff-Airdrie candidate prioritizing the event. However, despite being informed that masks are required to enter the library – and despite knowing it is currently illegal in Alberta to enter a public space unmasked – about 20 per cent of those attending refused to wear a mask or removed their mask while in the library. At the same time, almost 50 per cent of the candidates attending also showed their disrespect for the library, public health orders, and for the safety of staff and the public by refusing to wear a mask.
The Airdrie Public Library will not be bullied. For many years, APL has provided a forum in which election candidates can share their platform with the public. We will continue doing so, but we will move our upcoming municipal election event outdoors and we will hire security to help ensure everyone’s safety and adherence to public health orders.
We hope you will join us on Oct. 6 for our next Coffee with the Candidates event.
Airdrie Public Library Board of Trustees