Public Values

Toronto against privatization of its libraries

Pre-emptive petition attempts to keep the TPL off Ford's radar.

TPLWU to give Ford ceremonial library card as reminder 1.25 million Torontonians use them regularlyTORONTO, ON, July 14, 2011: Torontonians have spoken about their libraries and the message is, "Don't close our libraries and don't privatize them," according to a Forum Research poll conducted on July 4, 2011.

The poll found that 74 percent of Toronto residents disagree with the idea of closing local library branches as a way of solving the city's deficit. When it is their own local branch that is threatened, the proportion of those who "strongly disagree" is 64 percent.

The poll was commissioned by the Toronto Public Library Workers Union (TPLWU), Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 4948. The local represents 2,400 Toronto Public Library workers.

Not only are library branch closures off the table as far as Toronto residents are concerned, 55 percent disagree with privatizing the delivery of any city services, and more than one third disagree "strongly".

  "Torontonians say knowing their councillor supported library branch closures would affect their vote."

When the Toronto Public Library is mentioned as a privatization target, seven-in-ten or 71 percent of Torontonians disagree, and more half (55 percent) disagree "strongly".

"We are concerned about threat of further branch closures and the prospect of privatization, so we wanted to learn what the public really thought about these issues," says Maureen O'Reilly, president of the TPLWU CUPE Local 4948.

The poll also shows that Torontonians feel branch closures are a political issue. More than half (55 percent) say if they knew their local councillor supported closing library branches, it would affect their vote in the next municipal election "a great deal". In total, seven-in-ten (71 percent) Torontonians say knowing their councillor supported library branch closures would affect their vote.

The union plans to give Mayor Ford an oversized ceremonial library card to remind him that 1.25 million Torontonians own a library card and use it regularly. They also invited Mayor Ford to visit any branch of the library.

"Just walk right in, Mr. Mayor, and bring along your million-dollar consultants if you like. Talk to the people you meet there and ask them where the gravy is. We think you'll get an earful," said O'Reilly.

An online anti-privatization petition has been set up at More initiatives, including community outreach and organizational alliances, will be launched in the weeks to come.

The poll was conducted using a random selection telephone Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system and is based on a sample size of 1,061 completed interviews with residents of the City of Toronto. Results are accurate to within plus or minus 3 percent, 19 out of 20 times asking the identical questions.

Related individuals, organizations and significant events
For the Toronto Public Library Workers Union Fact Sheet, please click here.

Links and sources
  Poll shows Torontonians oppose closing local libraries and library privatization — councilors take note

Posted: July 20, 2011

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