Multnomah County Library avoids significant layoffs, adds programs for schools and families

Workforce reduction concludes, new County placements identified for 26 affected employees, all youth librarian positions retained

PORTLAND, Ore. — September 2, 2020. Multnomah County Library announces that no union-represented library employees will be without jobs at the conclusion of its workforce adjustment process on September 30. 

Following library branch closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Multnomah County and AFSCME Local 88 conducted a collaborative process to match staffing levels and priorities to current community needs. 

The result of this process prevents significant layoffs by reassigning staff to new positions designed to better meet community needs during and after COVID-19; eliminating vacant positions; voluntary retirements and layoffs (with incentives); and reassignments to support Multnomah County’s pandemic response and other community services. 

Specifically, Multnomah County Library will be able to retain all but approximately 26 employees at the library. These employees will be offered positions within Multnomah County, including working to support the county’s pandemic response efforts, some of which may be limited duration positions.

The library is working hard to shape services to focus resources according to its priorities and to serve those most deeply affected by COVID-19 and its aftermath. The library will continue to add new services to support remote learners and educators; job seekers; people who need social services; serve and support the Black community; those who are disadvantaged by the digital divide; immigrants and refugees and others. 

“We heard concerns from community members after announcing potential layoffs early in the summer,” said Director of Libraries Vailey Oehlke. “We took these concerns to heart. Thanks to creative thinking by library staff, we identified new and unique services the community needs during this pandemic — particularly for schools, families and senior citizens. We’re excited for the opportunity to do even more to help out during the school year, and to be there for the community when our buildings are able to reopen.”