Friday, February 29, 2008

Library strike/lockout

I find the call for pay equity rather odd. There is no internal inequity that I can see among the library workers. The workers think that they should have pay equity with workers from the city of Victoria - I can not see why they are suggesting this.

The GVLRA has suggested looking at what library workers get paid elsewhere and the union has disagreed with this, as has local MLA Rob Flemming.

There are some private sector workers that operate in much the similar environment as the library workers - people in book stores. Much of the staff on the floor at a Chapters seems to know as much as your average clerk in the library. Certainly the staff at Munro's is very comparable to in knowledge to library workers.

The rhetoric of the union seems utterly out of touch with reality. Certainly there are a lot of people out there that instinctively will support the workers as I would have done 15 20 years ago, but I do not see a lot of public support for the workers. Certainly I see few people that seem to understand the issues at stack, all it looks like is a desire by the workers to get a pay increase faster than the rate of inflation.

I am curious, with automated check out system, is there a reduced need for workers in the library? At the new Saanich Centennial branch the vast majority of people use the automated system. As time has gone by the relative cost of staffing has been rising for the library system, something that has happened in almost all sectors.

A have a few things that I think should be considered in this region with respect to libraries. First, why not integrate the school libraries with the public system? This would mean more books for everyone, and ideally more branches to access if one could get access to the schools for the public. It also means that there would be more resources for the schools to offer library programs.

The next level of integration could be with UVic, Camuson and the legislative library.

Ideally I would love to see a new legislative library built close to the legislature. This could be done inconjunction with the Greater Victoria Public Library and be a new larger central branch for the library.

At the corner of Menzies and Superior there is a parking lot - a site of about 2.5 acres. You could build a five floor building, with three floors of underground parking, that would have about 400 000 sq feet of usable space. The building could function as a major library and also be the start of a downtown UVic campus.

If the idea of a downtown UVic campus works, then there is a five acre site to the south of the legislature that needs redevelopment. The site could easily host 700 000 square feet of building and not be very tall. This would allow more offices for the legislature, the existing government offices and allow for more UVic downtown.

There is a further location that could be developed, a half acre at Government and Superior, right now an underused parking lot. Done properly at this location, a development there could connect over Superior to the site on the south side.

Anyway, enough on this going off on a tangent.

I have some other ideas for the libraries - why not have them privately run?
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