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August 20, 2015

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Front line library safety survey offers insights

BURNABY - Phase one of the CUPE BC Library Health & Safety Survey is complete and has
been very successful. With more than 500 library workers from 50 communities responding to a written survey, the results will offer significant insights into the growing challenges faced across British Columbia.

Phase two will consist of follow up one-on-one interviews with CUPE members who work in libraries. The interviews will happen throughout the fall, and will allow survey respondents to go into more detail on key questions as well as providing an opportunity for a deeper analysis of the issues facing library workers. The interviews will also be a chance to talk about front line solutions and recommendations.

While the final report will be available once interviews are completed, initial survey analysis shows that in addition to understaffing and salary pressure, these workers face situations outside the general perception of library work including safety issues, dealing with biohazards and criminal behaviour.

It is also clear that cuts to community and social services have put more pressure on libraries and the people who work there. “Libraries are among our most public spaces - often the centre of our communities, campuses and schools. Library workers have lots of ideas about how these spaces can continue to be open and at the same time safe workplaces,” said Karen Ranalletta, CUPE BC General Vice-President and Chair of the Library Committee.

“I am looking forward to the final report and recommendations. After that the real work begins. CUPE members will be talking to library boards and other employers about the key findings and solutions, whether that is developing new policies, improving sight lines within libraries, increasing staffing, or improving awareness of working-alone policies.”

CUPE BC represents 4,500 library workers in schools, universities, colleges and communities. 


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