TORONTO, Nov. 28, 2014 /CNW/ - The union that represents 2,200 librarians and other workers at the Toronto Public Library is strongly challenging the Toronto Public Library Board Chair because of his "remarkably uninformed" denial of the need for more security at library branches and his rejection of City Council's prior decision to not cut the security budget.
Michael Foderick, a former executive assistant to Councillor Cesar Palacio, who also sits on the library board, has been Chair of the city agency for just under a year. At the recent November 17 meeting of the Board, Foderick argued for a 40 per cent reduction in the security budget as part of the library funding request to the new City Council. A slim majority of the Board accepted his claim that security staff at many branches were not needed City Council will consider the budget request early next year
"For someone who is head of the busiest library system in North America, this Chair is remarkably uninformed of the realities of library security needs," says Maureen O'Reilly, President of the Toronto Public Library Workers' Union (TPLWU).
"Violent behaviour in the library system jumped 49 per cent from 2012 to 2013. In the last few weeks we have had a stabbing in a West end library, a bomb threat that closed a central downtown branch and a staff member assaulted at another branch. One east end district branch has filed 47 incident reports since the beginning of 2014, with more incidents than ever falling into the disturbing categories of violence, harassing behaviour threats, disruption, vandalism and trespass.
"Libraries are staffed mainly by women and many of our workers are young adults. Torontonians love their libraries and visit often. Many of those visitors are children enjoying our wide range of programmes," O'Reilly says.
"O'Reilly says she was shocked when Foderick put forth his motion at the board meeting and publicly boasted about it later in a newspaper interview.
"We need the security support to keep our libraries welcoming and open to all and the library workers need the support so that we can concentrate on what we do best, which is delivering the library service."
"Mr. Foderick seems quite proud of the $663,000 he will save by cutting library security," O'Reilly added. "But with 19 million visits a year, those savings amount to three-and-a-half cents per visit. If ever there was a false economy, this is it."
Earlier this year, a City Council motion to ask the library board to eliminate security guards was decisively voted down, 36-6. The six votes to cut security were from Rob and Doug Ford and Councillors Mammolitti, Milczyn, Del Grande and Moser.
"Our new Mayor, Mr. Tory, campaigned on the idea of bringing the city together," says O'Reilly. "Can there be any doubt that virtually all Torontonians want our public libraries to be safe havens for children, seniors and everyone in between?
"New appointments for the library board will take place soon and we hope Mr. Tory will appoint people who view our world-renowned library as the civic treasure it is, and will act to protect it and its millions of patrons."
SOURCE: Toronto Public Library Workers Union
For further information: Maureen O'Reilly, 647-206-7457