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VANCOUVER—Following two-and-a-half hours of presentations dominated by passionate appeals not to close Canada’s only in-house public library bindery, a vote by the board of the Vancouver Public Library yesterday narrowly defeated a motion to save the bindery and the valuable services its workers have provided for more than 80 years.

Board chair Joan Andersen, the CBC’s regional director for English Radio, cast the deciding vote in the 7-6 decision. When the meeting adjourned for a break following the vote, cries of “shame” greeted board members from the more than 150 people who had crammed into the seventh-floor support staff lounge at the VPL’s Central branch to support the bindery.

An amendment to the motion ensures that no lay-offs will result from the bindery’s closure and calls for library management to work with CUPE 391 to relocate the 5.8 affected positions within the VPL system “at comparable wages”.

However, CUPE 391 says the fight to save the bindery does not end with yesterday’s vote.

We are, of course, very disappointed with this result, given that the management team not only failed to make a case for closing the bindery on either fiscal or technological grounds, but also failed to publicize this important public process,” said CUPE 391 president Alex Youngberg after the vote.

Even trustees who voted not to save the bindery acknowledged that there were no financial gains to be made from closing it.”
One of the main objections to saving the bindery, as expressed by Andersen and others who wanted it shut down, was that failure to end the service this time would only result in the issue being brought back for trustees to deal with in the future.

One of those who voted “no” was Heather Holden, who had not attended a board meeting since October. Youngberg raised the question of whether Holden should still even be on the board, given that she had missed five meetings before yesterday’s vote.

We have spoken with management and are looking at a number of options for challenging this decision,” said Youngberg.

One of those will be to appeal directly to the public and cultural and heritage groups that have an interest in preserving the history of Vancouver, and the public record of British Columbia.”

CUPE 391’s presentation to the board included the tabling of a petition to save the bindery, which has so far drawn more than 1,000 signatures.

Youngberg is encouraging library patrons and other concerned members of the public to write or e-mail the library board. Letters can be sent to Vancouver Public Library board, 350 West Georgia, Vancouver, BC, V6B 6B1. E-mails can go to board@vpl.ca.

Please make sure you cc your letter or e-mail to CUPE 391, as the board has previously not received all public correspondence directed to it,” Youngberg added.

The CUPE 391 office is located at 545 West 10th Avenue in Vancouver, V5Z 1K9. The e-mail address is alex.youngberg@cupe391.ca.