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Staffless Libraries

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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

 

 

 

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@stephvanstralen: Great job @4948president and Steven Burdick of @Local4948 speaking at the mic at #CUPE2021 about the important services library workers deliver to their communities and why we should reject staffless libraries.
Local4948 local4948
@torontolabour: In less that 2 weeks, Labour Council and @myseumTO will come together for a special virtual event – Derailed: The History of Black Railway Porters in Canada 👉 SIGN UP: https://t.co/GIWerln3KQ This will be an incredible look into a group of workers who disrupted the system https://t.co/ND0yKghO8Y
Local4948 local4948
@4948president: Looking forward to attending this event. We need a just recovery from this pandemic in T.O. if the City truly wishes to Build Back Stronger. @torontolabour @TCBN_TO @ros_powell @27ChrisCampbell @Local4948 https://t.co/DGvPkJgFLS
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@LibrarianshipCA: The Toronto Public Library houses one of the planet’s biggest science-fiction archives https://t.co/y9V7fA8H9q At @torontolibrary's Merril Collection, take a deep dive into a science-fiction archive that’s out of this world https://t.co/x1bSkFSBQW
Local4948 local4948
@torontolabour: IN JUST TWO DAYS #labour joins community activists from diverse movements and backgrounds to speak out for #ClimateJusticeNow. Join us at Queen's Park at 1pm Saturday! #JustTransition #COP26 #canlab @ofl @canadianlabour @UARRToronto @TOenviro @TOforfuture https://t.co/9eUjfI62gr