With the end of the 231 day Essex County Library Strike, the longest strike in local history, the question of whether libraries are still a societal foundation arises.
The libraries of Essex county which includes LaSalle, Amherstburg, McGregor, Essex, and Kingsville were all out of service for almost eight months, which left many people without the many services unavailable for the public.
The dispute between the board and the employees revolved around the budget cuts affecting the pay system for employee sick days, essentially reducing the amount of days they can have and how they get paid on those days through third party insurers. This lead to 57 staff members from all branches go on strike from June 25, 2016 till Feb. 14, 2017.
— CUPE Ontario (@CUPEOntario) November 26, 2016
Staffless libraries has to be the singularly most ridiculous idea ever. https://t.co/xkdpLapzun
— CUPE 2974 Library (@CUPE2974) March 30, 2017
Not having such institutions, and the staff members that run, it leaves an absence in a service for the public which has been long considered a valuable asset to education and development.
After investigation this question, it’s clear that the general public, and a wide demographic, still use the library and all their services. Patrons have spoken to the absolute necessity of libraries being in communities and how libraries are still relevant in this day and age. They are evolving into to meet the needs of technological growth and advancement.
Speaking to students around campus of the University of Windsor, the consensus is that many have come to the agreement that it is a necessity of our community. Said Sheldon Harrison, VP of Finance for the University of Windsor, uses the library regularly and says that it is essential to his life as a student saying,
“It’s almost laughable. A library is an infrastructure for a city. You know what I mean. I understand that we live in a world that people have access to the internet, but that is only one specific demographic. You know if you are over 30 or 30 and over you grew up with the internet. If you are under 20, then you grew up on the internet. So, your views on having access to a physical library, where you have access to physical books. It is going to be a different perspective you going to have.”
As technology advances in our economy at a rapid pace, many businesses are trying to keep up with the same pace as media and society.
The Windsor Public Library, located downtown, is a prime example of how libraries are emerging into the new generation of technology. They provide extra services in their tech club like 3D printing, Garage Band, music production, book clubs, and many more. Demographics ranging from millennials to baby boomers are still in attendance to the downtown library campus.
Julie Catenacci, digital librarian at the Windsor Public Library says, “We have customers who are here from you know from the time their parents take them from the hospital, from when they were born. They are using the library, they are coming to story time right up to our seniors. Whats wonderful about the public library, it is so many different things to so many different people.”
Last night, March 29, 2017, the Library Workers Conference was held at Caesars Windsor, where the CUPE2974 was in attendance. There Lori Wightman, Maureen O’Rielly, and many other peopel from all over ontario came to speak out on behalf of library workers and to acknoledge the hardwork and dedication of the staff.
— CUPE 2974 Library (@CUPE2974) March 29, 2017
A young speaker at the conference stated.
“I wouldn’t be the person I am without the library, the resources and people in that library.” Desmond Cole at #OLWC17
— CUPE 2974 Library (@CUPE2974) March 28, 2017
This proves the necessity of libraries and what it means to everyone. We need libraries. We need our librarians.
Sheldon Harrison who also is a student of the University fully explains the rapid movement of technologies, the internet, and the importance of information being readily available to the public in such infrastructures like libraries.