This petition is made to address the inadequate and concerning safety and security issues that have impacted the frontline staff of the San Jose Public Library, which have resulted in harassment, assault and an overall unsafe work environment.
The City of San José is home to over 1 million residents and patrons of the San José Public Library system. A community that has grown by an average of over 7% in the past 10 years and continues to grow within the greater Santa Clara County. However, a growing diverse population is accompanied by a growing diverse amount of issues, in which foundations such as the San José Public Library are charged with providing resources and assistance to support those communities. Unbeknownst to the general public or San José's city officials, the growing issues have impacted the safety and security of front line San José Library staff who provide those essential services.
On Wednesday, May 26th 2021, a tragedy struck the public servants of the Valley Transportation Authority, when an armed disgruntled and mentally disturbed individual shot and killed multiple of his colleagues at the San José light rail central service yard. This tragedy impacted the San José professional community both directly and indirectly. Many residents of San José, as well as the SJPL staff, had connections to those individuals lives that were lost. Moreover, the trauma will continue to leave a lasting effect which will be difficult to recover from as a result. It is furthermore unfortunate that this senseless tragedy is only a continuation of the distress many public service workers continue to endure as they devote their lives to serve the communities in need while they grapple with the perils of mental health.
As the population and patrons served has grown along with the facilities opened for facilitating the community needs – the support and account for the safety and security of our library workers serving communities with various issues has been disproportionate. With over 25 library locations spanning across 181 square miles, the SJPL staff have only been afforded 2.5 Full-Time Equivalent Safety Resource staff. Leaving insufficient qualified and trained staff to manage Safety and Security for all worksites. Furthermore, the vacancies of Safety Resource staff have been effectively frozen and de-prioritized due to budget constraints; along with an impacted police response and presence due to the same budget constraints – library staff have been expected to take on the brunt of navigating around disturbing, aggressive and violent incidents. The lack of support and accountability from both city and library department administration has resulted in multiple staff being harassed, threatened and assaulted throughout the years. The recent horrific event is a continued reminder of the jeopardy we as public servants, as well as the patrons and their families we serve, are subjected and made vulnerable to.
We as employees of the City of San José and Public Library Department are petitioning to request both the City of San José Management and SJPL Directors to pledge a commitment and immediate prioritization on providing adequate re-staffing of our safety and security personnel; as well as expand the policies that assure the safety and well-being of library staff and patrons of our public facilities.