A community group that opposes new security screening measures at the Millennium Library is planning a “read-in” Tuesday afternoon.

The group, called Millennium for All, planned the protest to coincide with a meeting of the Winnipeg Public Library board, city councillors, and the manager of library Services, Ed Cuddy.

Millennium for All is concerned with what it calls “over-policing and under-servicing” of marginalized communities who access the downtown library, some of whom are Indigenous and people of colour who experience homelessness.

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Sarah Broad, who lives downtown and is involved in the read-in, said the system is not equitable.

“The library is part of the systems of care that we have set up for people. The current solution of bag checks and metal detectors effectively excludes many of the members of our communities who may have higher needs for care,” she said. “This solution is not equitable, nor does it address the very real systemic problems that are leading to the concerns over safety.”

In the past, library staff expressed feeling unsafe at work, Cuddy said, which is why the library instituted the security policy.

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Millennium for All believes library staff deserve to be safe at work, but said providing more social supports rather than excluding people can achieve the goal of safety in a more humane way.

The group is calling for the following demands to be met by the city of Winnipeg and library management: 

  • To stop the screening measures immediately,
  • To fund and house social services and supports at the library,
  • To meet with community organizations by June 1, 2019;
  • And to change library services to better meet the needs of marginalized people.

Cuddy said last month he was told library staff feel safer since the security screenings were implemented.