Friday, March 5, 2021

Chatham-Kent libraries remaining closed, union calls for their immediate opening

Library branches across the Municipality of Chatham-Kent are set to remain closed for the time being.

Meanwhile, the union representing library workers in Chatham-Kent has launched a campaign calling for the immediate opening of all 11 library branches across the community.

Tania Sharpe, CEO of the Chatham-Kent Public Library (CKPL) and the Chief Librarian, says they are continuing to “work hard on a re-opening plan” that will meet both Provincial and local health guidelines.

“As the Province enters into Phase 3 of its re-opening plan, CKPL has made a conscious decision to not re-open branches until we can provide an effective and efficient library service within the provincial restrictions that is safe for both patrons and staff,” Sharpe said in a statement posted on social media.

“Computers are not currently available.”

Sharpe added to “stay tuned” for more information and details.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) are encouraging people to fill out an online form, which informs Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff and members of Chatham-Kent Council that library services are valued.

“I’m counting on you to support Chatham-Kent residents by opening all eleven branches of Chatham-Kent Public Library,” CUPE officials say.

“CKPL closed its doors on March 14 due to the COVID-19 provincial government mandate. All CKPL staff were laid-off on April 7, despite still being able to provide online library services. As of May 19, the Provincial government has allowed libraries to provide curbside pickup, and as of June 12, libraries are allowed to provide home service and limited on-site services.”

CUPE officials added despite the go ahead by the Province to allow certain library services, less than half of CKPL staff are back to work, leaving Chatham-Kent without access to valuable services.

“Currently, CKPL is only providing curbside pickup, and only at four branches, CUPE officials say.

“This leaves seven communities without access to library services. Even for those who have access to curbside pickup, a large portion of CKPL’s collection remains inaccessible, as material at closed branches is not accessible and material is not travelling between branches.”

CUPE officials say this is unacceptable.

“Libraries and library staff are vital to the community, and they are especially valuable during these trying times to support the mental, emotional, and social well-being of Chatham-Kent residents,” CUPE officials say.

“Library services should not be cut to save the Municipality money during the pandemic. CKPL staff can provide library services from all library locations in Chatham-Kent while strictly adhering to the current provincial orders and direction from Public Health.”

Visit the CKPL website for more details.

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