20 Eglinton Ave. West
Suite 1109, PO Box 2053
Toronto, ON  M4R 1K8


Office Hours:
Mon-Fri 09:00 to 17:00

Staffless Libraries

Home / Issues / Staffless Libraries

Staffless Libraries: A Bad Idea

The ​Toronto Public Library Workers Union (TPLWU) opposes Staffless Libraries. They mean fewer jobs for our members, fewer programs for the public, reduced access for vulnerable communities and increased risks to patron safety.

Above: Compilation of our award-winning videos against Staffless Libraries. Find these and more on our YouTube page!

What are Staffless Libraries?

Staffless Libraries are a technology developed and sold by private Swiss Corporation, Bibliotheca.  Bibliotheca is the same company that introduced self-service checkout kiosks to the Toronto Public Library (TPL) in 2004.

Self-service kiosks were sold to the public as an innovative technology to “free-up” library workers’ time. This was supposed to enable us to help more patrons and work on high-priority tasks.

Instead, despite promises that no jobs would be lost, a 2014 staff report to the Toronto Library Board revealed that more than eighty-one (81) full-time jobs had been lost as a direct result of this technology.

Today, TPL is upping the ante on self-service by allowing patrons to enter library branches without any staff on site.

TPL first planned to introduce Staffless Libraries in 2017. But strong public opposition and a lack of political support forced them to retreat.

…Or so we thought.

By early 2019, Vickery Bowles (CEO of TPL) had retrofitted the Todmorden Room and Swansea Memorial branches and opened them as Toronto’s first Staffless Libraries.

Ms. Bowles claimed this was just a pilot project; that no jobs would be lost from Staffless Libraries and that they would not be spread to other branches.

We don’t believe her.

If you’re not planning to spread Staffless Libraries, why risk doing them at all?

So we hit the streets and searched online for supporters.

At public events, information pickets and while out canvassing affected neighbourhoods, we spoke to thousands of patrons who overwhelmingly agreed that Staffless Libraries are a bad idea.

On social media and on our public advocacy website, OurPublicLibrary.To the public echoed our disbelief and concern.

Throughout 2019, close to 10,000 emails were sent to Mayor Tory, TPL and the Library Board opposing Staffless Libraries.

They were ignored.

On February 24th, 2020, Ms. Bowles announced TPL will continue to offer Staffless Libraries in Toronto.


Down, but not out.

We are committed to continuing the fight against Staffless Libraries. Seriously, they’re a bad idea. Torontonians love their Public Library. So do we. Staffless Libraries are a step in the wrong direction.

For more information about Staffless Libraries, our continuing fight or to take action, please visit our public advocacy website: OurPublicLibrary.To




Members Login Here:

Member Site

Local Twitter

Local4948 local4948
@SkylarMaharaj: So impressed hearing @chipadovani's vision for #YSW and Toronto at Labour Meet & Greet, hosted by @torontolabour and @Local4948. https://t.co/lsFzKeQVIn
Local4948 local4948
@torontolabour: Proud to support Chiara Padovani and Lanny Ferreira, our endorsed candidates in #YSW @lannyf @Local4948 https://t.co/FA3PJH038a
Local4948 local4948
@ausmalik: I totally get this. In a big conversation last night, I asked what about Toronto do you love/are proud of. Without missing a beat, the overwhelming reply was: @TorontoLibrary! Thx to the super library workers @Local4948 that make our library system and spaces sources of pride 🙌🏽 https://t.co/rJ495rvWJd
Local4948 local4948
@torontolabour: What's your plan for the weekend? How about joining our Meet & Greet with our endorsed Toronto Councillor Candidates? Hope to see you all! #TOpoli @chipadovani ⏰Sat, Sept 17 at 1-2pm 📍129 Lonborough Ave, York. @ausmalik ⏰Sun, Sept 18 at 3-4pm 📍165 Augusta Ave., Toronto https://t.co/Cm2sky7EL5
Local4948 local4948
3rd day of ice-cream truck for the @UWGreaterTO ! We're at Bloor/Gladstone, City Hall, Spadina Rd, & Lillian H Smith libraries today! See you there! #icecream #fundraising #torontolibrary #libraryworkers #unitedway https://t.co/WTMcDSdoBX