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(en) US, Update on Providence Public Library – Community Joins Workers in Fight!

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 12 Jul 2004 11:12:39 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
News about and of interest to anarchists
http://ainfos.ca/ http://ainfos.ca/index24.html

Calling themselves Library Defense (http://www.provlibdefense.org), an
organized group of Providence Public Library workers has been battling
the administration's plans to drastically cut staff and services from
the library system. [See above mentioned website for background info]
After making their presence known by widely circulating letters,
statements, and media stories, the group of workers turned to the
community for support. Through decentralized networking, word of
mouth, and a great deal of Internet organizing, Library Defense has
exploded the issues across the city of Providence and beyond. Now that
the workers' group has built up mass support from the public, they
are ready to carry the struggle further. The administration however has
dug their heels in and refuses to be moved – there is still a long road
ahead. Below are some updates on the situation:

Severance: On July 1st, just before the 3 day holiday weekend, the
administration offered the majority of library workers in the Central
Library and all the clerks in the branches severance buyouts. Although
the employees saw these letters for what they really were, many people
were scared they were on the chopping block anyhow and took the
severance. Many others were heard saying that if the 3rd floor wanted to
get rid of them, they'd have to fire them. Staff was given 9 days to
accept the severance instead of the usual workplace average of around 21
days. When the deadline rolled around, the administration would not
announce how many people took the severance. The estimate is around
15-20. The whole ordeal has been devastating to library workers, as
friends and co-workers have been wrestling with these decisions. Many of
the workers leaving have pledged to continue helping Library Defense and
their fellow staff members fight even though they will have to sign
waivers that they will not attempt to harm PPL.

Letters of support: Letters have continued to pour into the Library
Defense website. Mitch Freedman, former President of ALA, sent a letter
of support that has been posted there. Thirty-three former library workers
from the Providence Public Library sent a letter to the Providence Journal
and Library Defense, which is posted there. The letter takes issue (backed
up with facts & figures) with many of the administrations reasons given
for the sudden and drastic changes. Among other strong words it has for
the administration the letter says: "The library has always had a loyal
staff with unmatched expertise. The callous disregard shown by this
administration for these dedicated employees leaves us shocked and very

Petition: A petition, asking for the administration to reconsider their
plan and demanding a public meeting where questions can be asked, has
continued to circulate. There have been close to 2000 signatures in a little
over a week. The administration still refuses to meet with the public.

Protest: Over 200 people showed up for a protest on Friday July 9th
outside the Central Library. There were patrons, staff, parents with kids,
local union members, anarchists, activists, the media, and library lovers
of all ages. Signs were held, speeches were given, and lots of noise was
made. The administration's 3rd floor seemed dark and vacant.
Pictures can be seen here:
http://homepage.mac.com/sempai/PhotoAlbum25.html and other
pictures as well as local media coverage of protest can be seen at the
Library Defense website.

Central Library Changes: Already areas are being prepared and things
moved around. The administration doesn't announce to the staff that
this is happening though – one day they might walk into work and
one of the rooms of the Central Library could be different. According to
the administration, the majority of the work that must occur to change
entrances and create a “popular branch” within the Central
Library will begin in September.

Public Website: An online discussion group was just formed for the
public. It is a place where the people of Providence (and beyond) can
brainstorm creative resistance to the current administration's plans.
The group is open to all and un-moderated. Join here:

Involuntary Layoffs (or: “You're Fired!”): According to
administration plan, now that they know how many employees have
taken their buyout, they will determine how many more they will have to
fire. This process will begin this week, but nobody knows when the
announcements will come. The vague time of “middle of July”
was the only hint given.

Giving Up: Hell No
From: http://makhno.nefac.net/html/drupal/node/view/1110

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