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CUPE was a welcome presence last week in Ottawa at the Canadian Library Association’s annual meeting.

The reaction has been great, very enthusiastic and upbeat,” said Pam of CUPE 905.

Even a lot of library managers, former CUPE members, are saying that it’s great that we’re here.”

Pam Hambrock and other CUPE members staffed the busy booth at the trade show at the CLA’s meeting, which ran June 14-17. CUPE’s table was the lone labour voice in a sea of mostly private sector forces pitching their services or technologies.

Handing out information kits, CUPE bookmarks and pens and engaging people face to face on CUPE’s work to keep libraries public motivates Hambrock. She has seen more and more contracting out in the library sector recently. “With funding drying out, contracting out is increasing,” she says.

Steven Burdick, president of CUPE 1582 and a veteran of the library sector, said that the CUPE presence has been very effective.

Developing our contacts here is very important,” he said. “The CLA is very pleased that we are here. And strengthening our relationships here is time well spent.”

People at the CLA say it’s about time that CUPE got more involved at this level, says Kim Perry, also of CUPE 905.

What took you so long?” is the question people ask her, says Perry.

Perry detects a shifting attitude in library leadership, saying that there is a sense that it’s not “us” versus “them”.

Successful libraries must work with their unions,” Perry says. “We must work together to reach out to marginalized people in our communities, and make them feel welcome.”

Fitting then that the new CLA motto has a familiar ring to it: “Libraries build communities”!