Get to Know Your Candidates: Bridget Stirling, Public School Board Trustee Candidate, Ward G

We sent out a brief, fun survey about libraries to all of the nominees running in the 2017 Edmonton civic election to help you get to better know your candidates.

These are the answers that Bridget Stirling, an Edmonton Public School Board trustee candidate from Ward G, sent back to us.

Election day is Monday, October 16. Get to know your candidates, learn how you can support EPL,  and don’t forget to vote!

1. What is your favourite library memory or experience?

My favourite library memories are about my grandmothers, both of whom loved to read.

As a child, I used to visit my Nana in Calgary for a week or two at a time, in the summer or during spring break. She lived in a newer neighbourhood with no nearby library, so we used to use the bookmobile when it came to the area every week. I loved the idea of a library travelling on wheels to serve the community. It was so much fun to climb onto the bus and see what treasures were there to discover that day.

My maternal grandmother lived about 20 minutes' walk from the Meadowlark branch. We used to walk there together all the time so that we could choose our books every week, both of us leaving with a large stack every time.

In my early teens, I had a case of severe pneumonia that kept me home from school in bed for weeks. My grandmother knew that I had developed a love of horror novels, and so she went to the library and came home with a huge stack of Stephen King and Dean Koontz novels, including the entire Dark Tower series. I can only imagine what the librarians thought of my tiny British grandmother, who usually read biographies, leaving carrying a pile of horror novels that was nearly taller than her head.

2. What is your favourite book, movie or song right now?

I recently began my PhD, so much of my reading these days is journal articles and academic texts, but I try to fit some leisure reading around the edges.

One of my favourite novelists is Margaret Atwood, in particular her speculative fiction—she has an ability to imagine just beyond the horizon in a way that feels extremely relevant in our times.

3. What magazines, newspapers, blogs, Twitter accounts and/or podcasts do you follow?

I read our local newspapers, of course. I also have a subscription to The New York Times and The Guardian because I love their in-depth coverage and exceptional long reads.

I also read a number of magazines, including The Atlantic, The Walrus, and The New Yorker, among others.

I'm into a number of local political blogs and love following some of Alberta's academics on Twitter (I especially enjoy watching @andrew_leach and @trevortombe interact).

And, of course, the Edmonton Journal's podcast, The Press Gallery, is a must-listen for Edmonton poligeeks. I'm also hoping that columnist Tabatha Southey finds a new home soon.

4. Which fictional character do you most relate to and why?

I feel a lot of kinship for Hermione Granger—a smart girl who wants to make her world better (although she sometimes makes mistakes!) and cares deeply about her friends.

I admire her courage and cleverness. I also love Elphaba from Gregory Maguire's Wicked for her belief in doing what's right, not what's easy.

5. What is one book you think everyone should read and why?

I'm not sure if there's one best book for everyone, but I'm in the middle of reading Adam Kahane's Collaborating with the Enemy, which I'm finding very useful in thinking about how one works in a board or council governance model, where nothing happens without working with other people who may not be natural allies.

6. What book is on your nightstand (or on your eReader or tablet) right now?

It's quite the stack right now because my leisure reading time is less than I might like: Tracy Lindberg's Birdie, Ta-Nehesi Coates' Between the World and Me, Izzeldin Abuelaish's I Shall Not Hate, Margot Lee Shetterly's Hidden Figures and Lawrence Hill's Any Known Blood, are all on the pile waiting for my attention.

7. Election Day (October 16) is also Boss' Day. Who was your very first boss and what was your job? What was one important lesson you learned from them?

The first boss who really had an impact on me was when I was a teen and worked for a retail clothing store.

She taught me a lot about how to work with others, how to behave professionally, and perhaps most importantly, how to overcome my natural shyness to be able to speak confidently to members of the public.

8. What role do you see EPL playing in a thriving and vibrant Edmonton?

EPL plays an essential role in a vibrant and diverse city. The early literacy programs and youth programs the library provides are important parts of our education landscape, helping children learn a love of reading and learning from the very start.

Libraries are a vital public service, allowing every person to access information and technology in many different ways and creating spaces for people to come together in their community.

I'm proud of the partnership we have with EPL as a school district and hope that we are fostering a lifelong love of learning and libraries together.