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Webinar: “Beyond the Books” (Federation of Canadian Municipalities Workshop, 2021

Home / Blog / Webinar: “Beyond the Books” (Federation of Canadian Municipalities Workshop, 2021

Hosted by CUPE National President Mark Hancock, a panel of speakers share their stories and insights about the role of public libraries, and their workers, throughout the pandemic.

Speakers Include:

Christine Boyle,
Vancouver City Councillor

She Discusses:

  • Public libraries as “Palaces for the People.”
  • The importance of public libraries – especially in tough times.
  • The societal roles of the Vancouver Public Libraries (VLP) and the importance of the workers who deliver them.


Brandon Haynes
President, Toronto Public Library Workers Union (TPLWU)
CUPE Local 4948

Discusses how Library Workers pivoted during the pandemic.

  • Converting Branches to food banks
  • Curbside service
  • Online storytime
  • Connecting with seniors
  • Vaccination site support
  • And ongoing community involvement


Patricia Larouche
Presidente, SCFP 3423 (Trois-Rivières)

Discusses how many of their members were redeployed to:

  • Other city departments
  • Food banks
  • School crossing guards (since many crossing guards are seniors who had to stay home
  • Phone calls to isolated seniors. In fact, some library workers developed close relationships with the seniors they called and still keep in touch with them to this day.

Patricia also explained how they adapted to COVID by running programs online and through the use of social media platforms, such as Facebook and Tik Tok.


Bruce Fiske MSW RSW,
CUPE 500 (Winnipeg)

Discusses the important roles social workers play in public libraries. Such as:

  • Fill the gap in Library’s response to homeless/at-risk patrons.
  • Address needs of homeless & at-risk
  • Provide referral to existing resources
  • Provide training & support for public service staff and security officers

Bruce also discusses his redeployment during COVID and a new “Community Connection Space” currently under construction at the Millennium Public Library.

Denise Parks
Chair Person, Surrey Library Workers, CUPE 402-02

Speaks about programs and services at the Surrey Public Library – and how, throughout COVID, they transformed many of these services into virtual programs.

Dr. Siobhan Stevenson,
Associate Professor, University of Toronto

Dr. Stevenson debunks the myth that public libraries are only about books. She delivers a high-level history of Canadian Public Libraries and discusses the ongoing re-transformations libraries undergo with the introduction of new social pressures and technologies.

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