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The Salt Lake City Public Library’s Chip Ward

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Chip Ward used to drive the library’s bookmobile around the west desert. He’s now assistant director of Salt Lake City Public Library, an activist and an environmental writer. His Canaries on the Rim is a first-hand account of environmental activism, and Hope’s Horizon looks at innovative approaches to healing the environment.


How easy is it to switch gears from assisting library patrons to battling polluters?


Both jobs are about creating a much-needed democratic culture in Utah. As an activist, I provoke dialogue and as a library administrator, I invite dialogue.


Is the environment in better hands under Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.?


Gov. Huntsman kept his word on blocking the Envirocare expansion and then vetoed the bill that would have kept him from doing so in the future, so he gets high marks for that. Also for his work on the Cedar Mountain wilderness designation that will block Private Fuel Storage’s rail route into Skull Valley. He looks especially good when compared to the members of the Utah Lobbyslature who are allergic to conservation.


What have you read lately?


Eugene Linden’s Winds of Change is an excellent primer on the dynamics of climate change. It’s all about the thermohaline system and the interaction of climate and history. Linden understands the genius of my ex-editor Mike Davis’s book Late Victorian Holocausts about how colonial powers used El Nino events to create an impoverished Third World.


What’s it like to write a book and get it published?


Like running down main street naked. First you bare your soul, then everyone gets to see it and comment.


What dangers did you face driving a bookmobile across the west desert?


Overeating sweets: My patrons would bring me baked goods. Believe it or not, I was once popular in Tooele County.

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