As of today, Toronto’s 98 branch public library system is closed.
This includes places like the Lillian Smith Branch (home of the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation & Fantasy which has a large graphic novel contingent) where we held the 2008 Joe Shuster Awards ceremony, and the Metro Toronto Reference Library, the home of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, which is scheduled for May 5-6, 2012 — approximately 6+ weeks away
According to news sources, CUPE (the union that represents 2300+ Toronto Public Library workers) walked away from the bargaining table yesterday, as they felt that the talks with the city and the Toronto Public Library Board weren’t going anywhere. Job security seems to be the primary sticking point.
Bottom line is that for now, Toronto’s public libraries are no longer accessible to Toronto’s citizens, many of whom were able to access some very well-stocked graphic novel collections — particularly at the downtown branches. Borrowers have been told to hold on to the items they checked out of the libraries before Sunday, and that late fees will not be charged for the duration of the strike. Certainly the city’s homeless will be despondent over the lack of access to the Toronto Reference Library’s restrooms.
What does this mean, ultimately, for TCAF? For now, one would hope that the union and the city manage to get together and hammer out a new deal before the Festival, which attracts creators from all around the world and across the country, and is also the weekend for the annual presentation of the Doug Wright Awards for Canadian Cartooning.