The library holds a collection of radical books, magazines and zines
With fairy lights bordering the edges of the ceiling and three walls full of literature, the Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG) at Concordia’s Alternative Library reopened its doors the week of Jan. 7.
QPIRG Concordia is a resource centre for students and community research to support activism around social and environmental justice issues. The Administration and Communications Coordinator for QPIRG, Adrienne Pan, described it as a community centre linking students to outside community pools of resources, and vice-versa. “We have almost 30 working groups, which can be organized by students and non-students, to attack some sort of issue that they are interested in,” said Pan.
“We help groups form and then we help them with funding,” said Pan. “Then we give them a space and provide them with resources.” Pan, one of three full-time employees at QPIRG Concordia, said the longer the groups have been part of QPIRG and the more active they are, the more eligible they are for funding. Solidarity Across Borders, Food Against Fascism, and Queer Between the Covers are among QPIRG’s working groups.
QPIRG Concordia moved offices last summer and now shares an office space with Concordia’s Centre for Gender Advocacy at 2100 Guy St., suite 205. The Alternative Library is one of their larger projects, which started around six years ago, according to Pan.
A collection with more radical materials, Pan said that most books available at the Alternative Library may not be available in other libraries. “We thought there was a need for more radical materials and more social justice-based materials, and especially all in one space,” said Pan.
“Also, not everyone has institutional library access, so this is a library that is open to anyone,” said Pan. “It’s self-serve, so once you have a membership here, you can check out books yourself and it’s pretty simple. If you don’t have a membership, you just have to fill out a sheet.” Pan said people have two weeks to return books, however, there are no fines if they extend past that period.
“People can get alternative information that they wouldn’t necessarily be able to find elsewhere,” said Library Coordinator Amanda Murphy. “I’m trying to design it to be welcoming and usable for people so they can be comfortable and spend time there,” said Murphy. Most of the materials have been bought by QPIRG, but Pan said some have also been donated. The works have to fit QPIRG’s social and environmental justice mandate, which is why Murphy said many of the subjects found in the library also align with the working groups at QPIRG.
They also share their online database with sister libraries, such as the libraries of the Centre for Gender Advocacy, QPIRG McGill, and the Union for Gender Empowerment. “The library is such an awesome thing that I hope it continues to grow,” said Pan. “We’re working on having a library committee and a meeting for volunteers.”
There will be an Alternative Library training session on Jan. 31. People interested in becoming volunteers can find more information on Facebook.
Photo by Mia Anhoury.