Safety and Equality for Rutgers Library Staff

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We, the undersigned, urge you to immediately close the premises of Rutgers University Libraries on the Newark and Camden Campuses until at least the beginning of the Spring Semester. At the same time, we urge you to begin planning to re-open Newark and Camden libraries under similar conditions to New Brunswick -- to allow  all work that can be performed remotely by library staff to be done from home, and, for work that must be performed on-site, to institute teams on alternating days or weeks.
 
With Newark once again at the center of of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are dismayed that staff (but not faculty or students) at Dana Library were required to defy the municipal stay-at-home declaration by Mayor Baraka, and to report daily to an almost empty campus.
 
Rutgers- Camden, too, has most classes virtual and low campus occupancy .  Camden, too, is experiencing a surge in COVID cases,  yet staff (not faculty, not students) are required to report to Robeson Library every day.
 
·      The lives and safety of Library staff members matter as much as those of  the library faculty. Library faculty assigned to the Newark or and Camden campuses work 100% remotely. 
 
·      Library staff have has never been classified as “essential” workers. 
 
·      With the end of Fall Semester exams, the demand for borrowing of physical library materials is negligible, and will remain so for over a month.
 
·      More broadly,  the demand for physical library materials is far smaller substantially less than in that of a public library, due to the nature of our students’ and faculty’s research.
 
The workplace assignments for RU Libraries are  implemented under a double standard - - one standard for Newark and Camden  that compels staff to report in-person daily, thereby promoting spread among staff and residents in communities of color that are already devastated from COVID-19 spread, and another for New Brunswick/Piscataway, where assignments are driven by use of a tele-commuting policy that keeps staff safe and reduces the risk of spread.
 
If we are “One Rutgers”, let’s treat our staff like that is true.  Let’s protect them from unnecessary exposure in their daily commute and on the job. 

 Rutgers University Libraries do not exist in a vacuum.  Library  facilities are based in the heart of Newark and Camden.  We have an obligation to members of those communities to be respectful and positive.  Let’s cooperate with our municipal authorities, who are advocating for community safety. 
 
OUR DEMAND:  Close the premises of all libraries except for essential cleaning and maintenance unti at least the beginning of the Spring 2021 semester.  Implement staffing by teams alternating in-person and remote work through the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.



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