Names on the Website

The issue has caused much debate in our membership.  Posting Children’s librarians, clerical supervisors and branch heads names on the library’s public website is an abrupt departure in the culture of this organisation and how we share staff information with the public.

On the one hand, there are past incidents of staff members being threatened and/or stalked by members of the public.  As public servants, we serve the community as a whole, not just a select few.  Some members of the public do not respond well to policy or its applications by library workers.  It is because of this that the policy. “Names (Giving out to Public)” first made its appearance in the Policy Manual.

“With the exception of the employees in charge of the worksite, staff are not required to give their name to members of the public upon request, the patron will be given the employee’s badge number.  The patron should be referred to the employee in charge.  Library Administration do not reveal employee’s names to the public.

Approved by: Administration Date: September 18, 1997

On the other hand, staff have been cross-training in other subject areas and moving to different floors and branches in an effort to develop more general service skills.  In the last four years, the library has moved staff training from subject specific training to a more generic practice.  Staff are now more interchangeable because of their broad-based skill set.  There should be even less reason to attach a name to their services.

Several members have brought very legitimate concerns to the Union and to Management.

  • Uttered threats
  • Stalking
  • Identity theft (unusual names)

Because of this and the change to established policy, the Union filed a grievance.  Management recognised that we needed to discuss this matter.  The Grievance Chair and I met with members of the Directors Group for two hours almost two weeks ago.  We had a full discussion.  We spent time explaining how the lack of communication and absence of a communications plan was very disruptive to the membership and reflected the results of the employee survey.

One of the directors realised that staff had little or no warning about the cultural shift that was about to occur.  She acknowledged this and promised to write a report with a backgrounder, rationale and process and guidelines for opting out of having your name on the website.  Sandra writes very readable reports for all the projects that she is involved with.  The Union may not agree with the direction of some of these reports but at least we know the intent.

The first vice-president and I met with more directors on March 4 and had further input without participating in the policy process.  The first vice-president made some valid comments about identity theft.

In this particular case, most of the planning for the new website and its attendant features took place while we were on strike.  The new website also had specific timelines to be met.  Management did not realise that while they were at the point of finishing up their presentation of the new “virtual branch” – the new website, we were just being introduced to their concept and change of direction.  Because it is now established that there is a yawning chasm in our perceptions, steps are being taken to inform, share the process and take input on future processes such as the aforementioned guidelines.

The Director of Systems and Special Projects is publishing a report tomorrow.  The implementation of the posting of names will not occur immediately. The process and practice will be clarified and guidelines for opting out established.  If members are not appropriately accommodated, the Union will continue with the policy grievance and personal grievances.  The Privacy Act and Worker’s Compensation Board did not give any useful information.  Both Union and Management are trying to find acceptable solutions.  Please read this document tomorrow and share any concerns with the Union.