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Toronto Librarians On Strike But Kids’ Website Stays Open

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The Lillian H. Smith Branch of the Toronto Public Library on College Street in Toronto, Ontario.
The Lillian H. Smith Branch of the Toronto Public Library on College Street in Toronto, Ontario. Image: hobvias sudoneighm, 2004.

Toronto’s 98 libraries are temporarily closed after talks between representatives for the City of Toronto and the library workers’ union broke down last Sunday.

Last Monday, 2,300 library workers set up picket lines at libraries. A picket line, in this case, is where the library workers march with signs that tell the public what they want from the City of Toronto, which pays their salary. Picketing is a way of letting people know that a deal needs to be made before they will go back to work.

What do both sides want?
Library workers are looking for job security*, especially for part-time workers. Part-timers want the city to let them work more hours during the week, says Maureen O’Reilly, president of the Toronto Library Workers Union. The City wants workers to be part-time because it cannot pay full-time salaries.

The deadline for a deal has come and gone four times but the two parties cannot agree on how to settle their differences. The library workers decided that a strike was the only option left for them.

The public has been asked to hold on to their books while librarians are on strike. Overdue books will not be charged late fees.

Other services, such as events and book drops, will be cancelled or closed.

However, most web services will remain open, including one of the library’s most useful websites for kids.

TeachingKidsNews talked to Anne Marie Aikins, the manager of community relations for the Toronto Public Library.

“Branches are closed and programs are suspended during the labour disruption,” Aikins said, “but most of Toronto Public Library’s website is available including KidsSpace which offers homework help, games and lots of other fun and educational things kids can do online.”

*In this case, job security means that people can’t be let go from their job.

Related links
Visit KidsSpace here.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Libraries help many different people. How do they help you? How might they help a family?  How might they help someone who recently arrived in a new city?

Reading Prompt: Extending Understanding
If you live in Toronto: How does this strike affect your life?
If you don’t live in Toronto: How might your life be affected if the librarians in your neighbourhood went on strike?

Primary
Extend understanding of texts by connecting they ideas in them to their own knowledge and experience, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Junior
Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Intermediate
Extend understanding of texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts, by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Grammar Feature: Related Words
When a pair of words are synonyms, they are written and said differently but they have exactly the same meaning. Related words are different from synonyms; they are words whose meanings are similar and connected.

A key focus of this article is work. Find words that are related to both work/jobs throughout the article.