A gay group that emerged out of Barrie Public Library’s refusal to carry copies of Xtra has now caught the library board’s attention.
But the fight has just begun, insists Paul Cogan, founder of Barrie Library Anti-XTRA Movement (BLAM).
As Xtra reported in August, the library refused to carry copies of the paper, citing a lack of space. Library director Al Davis said Xtra did not meet the library’s selection policy criteria.
“Xtra is the leading general news source for all gays across the country,” counters Cogan.
“I think they [library management] felt they could dissuade us from pursuing the issue, take them on their word and go away. As a result from Xtra‘s article where you actually interviewed Davis, the director of the library, put his foot in it. He mentioned he said he made an invitation to BLAM. But in fact, he did not,” says Cogan.
So Cogan called Davis’s bluff on the invitation to allow BLAM to make its case to the board.
“I asked [Davis] whether I had [an invitation to speak with the board of directors] or not. He came back to me and said he’d go forward with it and allowed BLAM to make a presentation. That’s what he did after I put the pressure on him,” says Cogan.
The library sent Cogan a letter, offering BLAM the opportunity to make a presentation to the library board on Nov 25. The board pledged to provide a written decision “in due course.”
BLAM notes that although Xtra does not have much Barrie-related coverage, it does provide a much-needed news source to the town’s gay community.
Email requests to BLAM supporters for comment were not answered. The only person to reply said she did not want to comment. Cogan says this is because Barrie is a closeted town and many people are uncomfortable with their names being publicly attached to their sexual orientation.
“Is Barrie closeted? Very much so,” Cogan told Xtra in August. “Part of the reason why [BLAM] came about is because when I relocated into Barrie from Toronto, I realized how closeted it really was. So I am trying to build a gay identity, a sense of community.”
At the board presentation, BLAM plans to challenge the claim that the library does not have enough space to carry Xtra.
“We already had a community member identify a whole list of areas within the library where space accommodation could be made in a box. As well, we already have an Al Davis statement on record to indicate he is holding surplus floor space that is not being used for anything,” says Cogan.
In August, Davis told Xtra that Cogan and his fellow BLAM associates have been a “real thorn in our side.”
Davis could not be reached for comment.
For more information, check out BLAM on Facebook.