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TORONTO – Torontonians have spoken about their libraries and the message is “Don’t close our libraries and don’t privatize them,” according to a Forum Research poll conducted on July 4, 2011.

The poll found that 74 per cent of Toronto residents disagree with the idea of closing local library branches as a way of solving the city’s deficit. When it is their own local branch that is threatened, the proportion of those who ‘strongly disagree’ is 64 per cent.

The poll was commissioned by the Toronto Public Library Workers Union (TPLWU), Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 4948. The local represents 2400 Toronto Public Library workers.

Not only are library branch closures off the table as far as Toronto residents are concerned, 55 per cent disagree with privatizing the delivery of any city services, and more than one third disagree “strongly”.

When the Toronto Public Library is mentioned as a privatization target, seven-in-ten or 71 per cent of Torontonians disagree, and more half (55 per cent) disagree “strongly”.

“We are concerned about threat of further branch closures and the prospect of privatization, so we wanted to learn what the public really thought about these issues,” says Maureen O’Reilly, president of the TPLWU CUPE Local 4948.

The poll also shows that Torontonians feel branch closures are a political issue. More than half (55 per cent) say if they knew their local councillor supported closing library branches, it would affect their vote in the next municipal election “a great deal”. In total, seven-in-ten (71 per cent) Torontonians say knowing their councillor supported library branch closures would affect their vote.

The union plans to give Mayor Ford an oversized ceremonial library card, to remind him that 1.25 million Torontonians own a library card and use it regularly. They also invited Mayor Ford to visit any branch of the library.

Just walk right in, Mr. Mayor and bring along your million-dollar consultants if you like. Talk to the people you meet there and ask them where the gravy is. We think you’ll get an earful,” said O’Reilly.

An online anti-privatization petition has been set up at www.ourpubliclibrary.to. More initiatives, including community outreach and organizational alliances, will be launched in the weeks to come.

The poll was conducted using a random selection telephone Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, and is based on a sample size of 1061 completed interviews with residents of the City of Toronto. Results are accurate to within plus or minus 3 per cent, 19 out of 20 times asking the identical questions.

For further information, contact:

Maureen O’Reilly, President, TPLWU CUPE Local 4948: 647-206-7457