Public Libraries, Law, Society
On March 16, 2020, in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the City of Vancouver closed all of its public library branches. I experienced these closures on a number of different levels: as a Vancouver resident who loves to read and to visit libraries, as the partner of an avid reader, as the father of a four and a half year old who is as excited about the prospect of trips to the library to pick up “fresh books” as he is with the chance to practice riding his pedal bike through the neighborhood, and, among other identities, as a law professor whose work focuses on the intersection of copyright, human rights, and social justice, and who believes that libraries are integral to the achievement of the objectives of each of these areas of law. Drawing on these identities, I’ll reflect in this essay on the important role played by libraries and librarians in both law and society, on what is lost when libraries close, and what we should celebrate – and fight for – when they re-open.
Graham Reynolds, "An Essential Service: Public Libraries and Their Role in Law and Society" (2020) 25:4 Lex Electronica 20 (Special Issue: Law and Learning in the Time of Pandemic - A Collage, Shauna Van Praagh & David Sandomierski, eds).