Dozens of Multnomah County Library workers held an informational picket outside the Midland Public Library on Southeast Stark and 122nd Monday while County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson visited the branch.
According to the workers, a number of proposals by library staff for creatively providing services to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic have been rejected by library management in favor of reducing services. The library system has closed its doors during COVID-19 to reduce transmissions of the virus, but maintains some services via photo and the Internet.
Up to 128 library jobs will be eliminated and critical library services will be cut starting Sept. 30, according to the workers group, save library staff.org.
“We want the County Commissioners and the public to know what’s at stake with these layoffs,” says Courtney Koch, a library assistant at Midland. “It’s not just about our jobs. It’s about them. We won’t be able to serve our community.”
The group said it wanted to reach out to Commissioner Vega Pederson who was at Midland to visit a Summer Lunch Program and the Outdoor Computer Lab. They also pointed out how Black, Indigenous and People of Color will be impacted, showing how a bilingual Spanish youth librarian at Midland received her layoff notice a few days earlier and was told the position was being eliminated.