Date of Award


Publication Type


Degree Name



Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology


Canada, public library, unsheltered


A. Guta


S. McMurphy




This thesis focuses on the library as a public space in relation to unsheltered people. The public library is a historically significant institution in the Western world and one of the few remaining public spaces whose occupants do not need purchasing power for temporary tenancy. For unsheltered people, public libraries may provide important resources they do not possess or cannot otherwise access. Yet, despite the importance of libraries to unsheltered people, public libraries have sought to use policies to closely govern and sometimes exclude them in various ways. Drawing on governmentality, sociology of governance, and related literature, the overarching research question of this thesis is: how have unsheltered people – a perceived risky community – become problematized and governed in public libraries of Canadian cities consistent with neo-liberal objectives? The research for this thesis consisted of the collection and analysis of public library policies in Windsor, Ontario, Vancouver, British Columbia, Toronto, Ontario, and Calgary, Alberta as well as documents pertaining to governance through freedom of information requests from the public library in Vancouver, British Columbia. This thesis draws attention to the control and exclusion of unsheltered people in public libraries and ultimately the shrinkage of public spaces and facilities unsheltered people are permitted to occupy or freely use. This research also fills gaps in knowledge since previous literature has neglected to explore in detail how public libraries govern and regulate unsheltered people specifically

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