Calgary Public Library lays off 75% of staff amid COVID-19 pandemic

Interior of Calgary's Central Branch of the Calgary Public Library. Getty Images

The Calgary Public Library joins the list of businesses in the city to temporarily lay off staff due to closures forced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

All 21 library branches in the city were closed in March, and with no clear timeline for when the facilities can re-open, the organization took measures to lay off more than 500 workers.

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“In response to public health and safety measures and diminished operations, the library will be reducing its day-to-day staff,” Mary Kapusta, communications director with the Calgary Public Library, said Wednesday.

Previous to the closures, the library had 753 workers, but Kapusta said the drastic reduction in work, especially for front-line staff, was something that couldn’t be ignored.

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“The library is preparing for an extended closure and as such, had to make the difficult decision,” she said.

Click to play video: 'More layoffs this week in Calgary as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise'
More layoffs this week in Calgary as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise

“We know that we are a critical public service and space for many Calgarians and it’s hard to not be able to provide more support at this time.”

The small number of staff that remain working have been deemed critical to base operations, Kaputa said. She also noted that staff will retain their seniority status and will be paid in full for their scheduled shifts until April 11.

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Despite the layoffs, Kaputa said the library will continue to provide residents with online services while the branches remain closed to the public.

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“The library has so much to offer Calgarians online and we will continue to ensure that we are delivering an exceptional online experience,” she said.

“This includes creating new virtual programs, offering online learning resources, providing customer information support and enhancing our digital collections.”

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