Protect the city of Chicago: Close ALL Chicago Public Libraries NOW!

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Illinois is currently in a state of emergency in the midst of a major public health crisis known as the COVID -19 pandemic. Local officials are taking action to minimize the impact of the global pandemic including closing all CPS schools, all Archdiocese of Chicago schools, universities and colleges, and most recently ordering that all restaurants and bars close their indoor dining spaces.

Yet Chicago Public Libraries remain open to the public, putting in grave danger all of CPL staff and affiliate employees, our patrons, and all the residents of the City of Chicago. Public health experts as well as Mayor Lightfoot and Governor Pritzker, are urging social distancing as a life-saving measure. Keeping libraries open contradicts this advice and jeopardizes everyone exponentially. 

Today the Illinois Library Association (ILA) has recommended the closure of all public libraries in the state of Illinois:

We, the Chicago Public Library employees insist that Mayor Lori Lightfoot take the following actions:

1. Close all Chicago Public Library locations to the public IMMEDIATELY.

2. Guarantee in writing that all CPL library workers and affiliates will be fully compensated during the crisis. This includes, and is not limited to: 

no docked sick, personal, vacation days, 
all hourly workers are paid for full workdays, and 
health coverage remain intact for all employees of the CPL system.

All CPL library workers and affiliates include (this is not an exhaustive list): 

All union employees 
All full time and part time CPL workers 
Security guards 
Contract / At-Will workers

CPL employees are extremely worried about the health of all of our patrons and coworkers but we are most concerned for high-risk CPL staff, and members of the public including those who are over 60, those with compromised immune systems, those that are pregnant, and those who care for elderly relatives. We are aware of the critical role that libraries play during this time and the trust our patrons place on us. However, remaining open to the public will completely betray that trust and signal to the public that our spaces are safe, which they are not. We know that the virus can live on surfaces for up to three days meaning everyone is potentially at risk if someone carrying the virus enters one of our facilities. We know that many people can be asymptomatic carriers and transmitters of the virus and we do not want to worsen this global health pandemic by keeping our doors open during this critical time.

We take our responsibility to serve the city of Chicago extremely seriously; however, it should not be the sole burden of library workers to provide essential services to people experiencing hardships. We are not staffed, trained, or equipped to be a critical service.  

We urge Mayor Lightfoot to act swiftly to protect all city employees and our patrons.

#CloseCPL #COVID-19 #ProtectChicago