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COVID-19 and Temporary Public Library Lay-offs

April 22, 2020

Updated: May 18, 2020

Since the beginning of March, the impacts of COVID-19 have been felt across Canada and by Canadians employed in all sectors.

As governments put in place measures to “flatten the curve” through physical distancing and closure of all non-essential services, public libraries have been adapting and transforming programs and services for virtual delivery while the physical branches and bookmobiles are unavailable.

The closure of municipal facilities and the cancellation of in-person programs and services has led to many jurisdictions announcing the temporary lay-offs of employees or pausing the use of auxiliary workers.

Based on media reports, news releases, and emails with officials, the following table compiles numbers of affected library workers:

Library System# of Employees Affected 
Aurora Public Library (Ontario)10 full-time and 18 part-time staffDetails (Apr 10)
Barrie Public Library (Ontario)45 employeesDetails (Apr 8)
Brantford Public Library (Ontario)29 staff on Declared Emergency Leave(Apr 20)
Caledon Public Library (Ontario)20 library workersDetails (Apr 20)
Calgary Public Library (Alberta)550 (approximately) employeesDetails (April 1)
Central Manitoulin Public Libraries (Ontario)2 assistant librarians(Apr 7)
Chatham-Kent Public Library (Ontario)47 employeesDetails (Apr 6)
Dryden Public Library (Ontario)3 employees(Apr 13)
Edmonton Public Library (Alberta)489 employeesDetails (March 30)
Fraser Valley Regional Library (British Columbia)100 (approx) casual staffDetails (Mar 23)
Gatineau, Bibliothèque de (Quebec)101 white-collar employees working variable hoursDetails (Apr 17)
Georgina Public Library (Ontario)19 part-time library workersDetails (Apr 10)
Greater Victoria Public Library (British Columbia)117 regular employees, 51 auxiliary staffDetails (May 5)
Guelph Public Library (Ontario)120 library staff membersDetails (Apr 17)
Hamilton Public Library (Ontario)180 library pagesDetails (Apr 17)
Idea Exchange (Cambridge, Ontario)39 part-time, casual and student employeesDetails (Apr 6)
Kawartha Lakes Public Library (Ontario)32 library staffDetails (Apr 19)
Kitchener Public Library (Ontario)100 full-time, part-time and casual staff (approx)Details (Apr 6)
Lambton, County of (Ontario)124 library, museum, art gallery and archives workersDetails (Apr 8)
London Public Library (Ontario)103 Casual, Page and Temp staff(Apr 5)
Markham Public Library (Ontario)197 part-time library workersDetails (Apr 10)
Meaford Public Library (Ontario)3 part-time staffDetails (May 13)
Medicine Hat Public Library (Alberta)33 employees (approx 64% of staff)Details (Apr 14)
Mississippi Mills Public Library (Ontario)17 part-time staff members(Apr 23)
Morinville Public Library (Alberta)7 staff membersDetails (Apr 19)
New Tecumseth Public Library (Ontario)20 part-time staff
New Westminster Public Library (British Columbia)26 auxiliary staffDetails (Apr 14)
Newmarket Public Library (Ontario21 part-time jobsDetails (Apr 20)
Niagara Falls Public Library (Ontario)37 part-time staffDetails (May 18)
Ottawa Public Library (Ontario)280 part-time employeesDetails (April 6)
Peterborough Public Library (Ontario)33 part-time staff
8 full-time staff laid off or leave of absence
Details (Apr 14)
Ramara Public Library (Ontario)4 staff membersDetails (May 5)
Regina Public Library (Saskatchewan)100 workersDetails (May 17)
Renfrew Public Library (Ontario)3 student pages(Apr 9)
Sault Ste. Marie Public Library (Ontario)27 part-time employees (a mix of part-time clerks, part-time reference technicians and pages)(Apr 14)
St. Albert Public Library (Alberta)43 staff membersDetails (Apr 15)
Stratford Public Library (Ontario)15 employees (12 part-time staff and 3 full-time staff)Details (Apr 21)
Surrey Libraries (British Columbia)140 full-time employees Details (Apr 2)
Thompson Public Library (Manitoba)3 staffDetails (Apr 16)
Vancouver Island Regional Library (British Columbia)"most of its staff"

In 2018, VIRL had 433 employees
Details (Mar 18)
Vancouver Public Library (British Columbia)600 employees, including 375 part-time and/or auxiliary workersDetails (Apr 4)
Vaughan Public Libraries (Ontario)172 part-time library employeesDetails (Apr 10)
Waterloo Public Library (Ontario)53 part-time employeesDetails (Apr 6)
Welland Public Library (Ontario)30 employees (22 part-time staff and 8 full-time staff)Details (Apr 3)
Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library15 part-time workersDetails (Mar 23)
Winnipeg Public Library (Manitoba)195 temporary library workersDetails (Apr 15)

In some jurisdictions, temporary lay-offs of municipal employees, including library staff, have been announced but without reporting library-specific numbers:

JurisdictionLibrary# of Municipal Employees Affected 
Guelph (Ontario)Guelph Public Library601 casual, part-time employees - employees who deliver recreation programs, school crossing guards, some library workers, and othersDetails (Apr 2)
Haldimand County (Ontario)Haldimand County Public Library107 employees who deliver recreation programs, library & cultural services, economic development services, some facilities maintenance staff, some administrative support functions, part-time staff and othersDetails (Apr 14)
Jasper (Alberta)Jasper Municipal Library28 positions - mostly due to closed municipal facilities like the activity centre and library.Details (Apr 3)
Kirkland Lake (Ontario)Teck Centennial Library15-20 people - part-time staff at municipal facilities are currently not providing municipal programs and/or services as they had done prior to facility closuresDetails (Apr 15)
Lethbridge (Alberta)Lethbridge Public Library248 employees, 244 of whom were casual workers - those who work in facilities that are currently closed such as the Lethbridge Public Library’s two branches, the Enmax Centre, Fritz Sick Memorial Centre, and the Galt MuseumDetails (Mar 30)
Mississauga (Ontario)Mississauga Library2,000 part-time employees - majority of lay-offs impact part-time employees in Community Services, where community centres, libraries and cultural facilities remain closed until further notice.Details (Apr 3)
Orangeville (Ontario)Orangeville Public Library143 casual and part-time employees in the areas of recreation and events, libraries, crossing guard services, and recreation facility supportDetails (Apr 3)
Penticton (British Columbia)Penticton Public Library22 staff members - All departments will be included, with the greatest numbers being on services that are presently closed to the public, such as parks and libraries.Details (Apr 3)

Librarianship.ca will continue to report on temporary lay-offs in public libraries as the COVID-19 pandemic continues

If there are temporary public library lay-offs not reflected in the tables above, please let us know. Email us at info@librarianship.ca

See also: COVID-19 and Temporary School Library Lay-offs

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