(Greater Victoria Public Library)

The Greater Victoria Public Library has announced a large number of employee layoffs, as branches remain closed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a statement from GVPL, 168 regular and auxiliary employees are to be laid off next month if the library cannot resumed some services by then.

This announcement follows the Vancouver Island Regional Library system laying off 420 employees in mid-March.

Since GVPL closed their branches on March 16th, 168 employees have been on paid leave with 53 employees working remotely to continue providing online service and maintaining the core infrastructure.

“This decision was extremely difficult for us, and we reluctantly determined that initiating the layoff process was in the best interests of the organization,” said Deborah Begoray, GVPL Board Chair, in the statement.

“Our CEO provided us with a thorough report of options, taking into account the financial pressures of today and the uncertainty of what will follow in the coming months.”

GVPL’s auxiliary employees will be paid until May 8th, when they will be issued their layoff notice.

Regular employees will be paid until May 15th, and a further paid notice period will be activated to a maximum of eight more weeks, in keeping with the agreement with CUPE 410.

Maureen Sawa, GVPL chief executive, hopes the system will start to reopen by the time layoff notices come into effect.

“It is possible that employees notified of layoffs will be called back to work before the paid layoff notice is completed,” said GVPL in a press release.

Greater Victoria Public Library currently has 12 branches, one e-branch and more than 100 community partnerships.

Online services are still available, and people can sign up for library cards online to access digital content.

The library has seen online use of its services climb by 77 per cent during the pandemic and has therefore expanded its virtual services.