Regulations fining a vulnerable population are contrary to the values of inclusion and accessibility held by the Corporation of Professional Librarians of Quebec (CBPQ). Librarians, like other people who provide customer service in libraries, regularly intervene with users to ensure a pleasant place for everyone.
Interventions for cases where personal hygiene risks inconveniencing others are very delicate. It must be done with respect, with courtesy, and by offering solutions to the person concerned to correct the situation, for example by directing them to available community resources.
Over the past several years, the library profession has changed significantly and the social role of the library is undeniable. Librarians have always had a welcoming philosophy where we act on behavior and not on feelings towards a person. For the CBPQ, imposing fines in order to strengthen a regulation is not the way to go.
The expertise of librarians is essential to fostering a welcoming, open and respectful environment for all. Through a sensitive and documented analysis of the situation, it makes it possible to act on certain behaviors, while taking into account the real problems experienced by customers. Librarians can also provide support in certain cases, serving as a conduit to appropriate resources. Librarians in fact form links with community organizations specializing in disaffiliated clientele, whose support and in-depth work are invaluable.
We sincerely hope that the City of Montreal will reconsider this regulation and that it will analyze other solutions to promote living together in its library network.
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