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History General

Just Getting Started

Edmonton Public Library's First 100 Years, 1913-2013

by (author) Todd Babiak

The University of Alberta Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2013
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2013
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"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.

About the author

Todd Babiak is an award-winning author, journalist and screenwriter. His second novel, The Garneau Block, was a #1 regional bestseller, a longlisted title for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the winner of the City of Edmonton Book Prize. His third novel, The Book of Stanley, is in development for television. Babiak is a columnist for the Edmonton Journal and on the board of PEN Canada. Visit his website at

Todd Babiak's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"I don't have any connection to Edmonton personally but I do love Babiak's writing and he's brought the EPL's story to life through a series of stand-alone, yet interlinked chapters. The archival photos are wonderful and the story of the Library is really the story of a city.... [Just Getting Started is] filled with really interesting stories of the people of Edmonton and how the Library played a central role in the politics and development of the city. Todd Babiak is the perfect author for this book because he's a great writer...." [full review at]

"It's a fascinating and instructive book, in part because the library turns out to be a lens through which you can see the entirety of the city, in good times and bad, at its most inspired as well as its most self-destructive." Michael Hingston, Edmonton Journal, October 18, 2013

Edmonton Journal

Todd Babiak brings to life 100 storied years, beginning with the proud young Edmonton telling Andrew Carnegie that if he didn't like our vision of the library our city deserves, he could keep his money and we would go our way. Todd Babiak's style serves history well. -Tony Cashman

"I've been reading Just Getting Started which is Todd Babiak and the Edmonton Public Library's book about the first 100 years of the Edmonton Public Library. It's basically like the library's birthday present, but it's also a present to the citizens of Edmonton. It's so wonderful to read a history of your own city told from the perspective of that city's library. An institution that has worked for over 100 years to strengthen the intellectual infrastructure of its city. ... The public library just might be the new public square, Babiak argues. A place where the same universe of information and technology and entertainment is available to anyone, no matter how much money they make or what type of job they have or what their politics are. Everyone gets access to the good stuff." Jason Lee Norman, November 20, 2013 [Full blog post at]

"Alberta novelist Todd Babiak documents the library as a focus of city life in Just Getting Started. It is a centenary profile of the Edmonton public system. Babiak is a gifted writer and his stories are compelling." Holly Doan, Blacklock's Reporter, Sept. 23, 2013 [Full review at:]

"A fabulously researched, well-told narration of the birth, growth and coming-of-age of Edmonton's magnificent public library system. Babiak's writing is luminescent as he captures the essence of the personalities and happenings that shaped the institution and the people it has served over 100 years.... Babiak doesn't gloss over the bumps along the journey, either, as he illuminates the people and challenges they faced...." Lawrence Herzog, heritage writer, October 2013

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