Toronto's librarians are considering going on strike, as Mayor Rob Ford continues to make good on his election promise of "outsourcing everything that isn't nailed down." They're looking for your support, in the form of an endorsement for their "Love a Librarian" petition.
The City is pursuing a bargaining agenda to downgrade and reduce library staff and service. Their strategy is to slash service to diminish satisfaction in our public library. They think the public backlash will be smaller when the Toronto Public Library, in whole or in part, is placed on the market for sale. Standing in the wings is the huge American library management firm Library Systems and Services, or LSSI.
Already, LSSI engaged the lobbying services of Paul Christie, a former city politician with close ties to Mayor Ford and at least one of his hand-picked members of the Library Board, to influence debate about the budget for our public library. Christie quietly wined and dined officials extolling the virtues of private ownership of our public library during the budget debate.
This is the same Paul Christie who oversaw the decimation of public school funding under Conservative Premier Ernie Eves. Even though LSSI has concluded its arrangement with Christie for the time being, they are ready to pounce if we give them the opportunity. This would be disastrous for Toronto residents. Every experience involving LSSI in the US and the UK where the company operates has resulted in higher costs, fewer books and less access for library users.
That is why we must strongly oppose the Mayor’s privatization agenda and keep our library public. Working together, I know we can prevail. Please sign the Love a Librarian petition right now, then share it with your networks.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.