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Toronto –Torontonians overwhelmingly reject the idea of libraries without librarians, according to a new survey by pollster MAINSTREET Research.

The survey found that three in four respondents (73%) would not send their children or parents to a library without librarians or security staff, and more than six-in-ten (63%) would, given the chance, tell Mayor Tory to stop this idea from proceeding.

These findings emerge as the Toronto Public Library readies a pilot project to test the idea of opening two branch libraries – Swansea and Todmorden -with no on-site staff or security during early morning and late evening hours when the branches would otherwise be closed.

“A library is more than just books and bricks; it’s a learning institution where important community services and programs are delivered by dedicated staff,” says Maureen O’Reilly, President of the Toronto Public Library Workers Union which commissioned the survey.  “I agree with the majority of people in this city – it is not possible to have good libraries without librarians.”

MAINSTREET found that 55% of respondents do not think it’s possible to have a good library with no librarian, just 21% said it is possible, the rest were not sure.

When asked to identify their main concern with the idea, most respondents (42%) cited safety, while 16% were worried about vandalism and 12% thought theft of books and materials would be the biggest problem.

“Torontonians love our public libraries,” said O’Reilly. “They are one of our city’s great assets and they should be celebrated and valued with new investment, not programs such as this that will just diminish quality and services.”

As awareness of the Toronto Public Library’s plan for staffless libraries grows, opposition may expand and intensify.  Right now, only 16% are following this issue very closely, another 21% somewhat closely, and 22% of residents are not aware of the proposal at all.

MAINSTREET surveyed 2,304 adult Torontonians on March 23, 2017, using Chimera IVR technology calling through to both landlines and cell phones.  A sample this size produces results that are accurate within +/- 2.02%, 19 times in 20.

Regional margins of error. Etobicoke: ± 4.38 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Scarborough: ± 4.36 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Downtown: 3.77 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. North York: 3.93 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.


For information or to book an interview with Maureen O’Reilly contact:

John Chenery