27 September 2010

"Privatizing" public libraries

Excerpts from a story in the New York Times:
A private company in Maryland has taken over public libraries in ailing cities in California, Oregon, Tennessee and Texas, growing into the country’s fifth-largest library system...

The company, known as L.S.S.I., runs 14 library systems operating 63 locations. Its basic pitch to cities is that it fixes broken libraries — more often than not by cleaning house.  “A lot of libraries are atrocious,” Mr. Pezzanite said. “Their policies are all about job security. That’s why the profession is nervous about us. You can go to a library for 35 years and never have to do anything and then have your retirement. We’re not running our company that way. You come to us, you’re going to have to work.”

Until now, the three branch locations have been part of the Los Angeles County library system. Under the new contract, the branches will be withdrawn from county control and all operations — including hiring staff and buying books — ceded to L.S.S.I...

Library employees are often the most resistant to his company, said Mr. Pezzanite, a co-founder of L.S.S.I. — and, he suggested, for reasons that only reinforce the need for a new approach.

“Pensions crushed General Motors, and it is crushing the governments in California,” he said. While the company says it rehires many of the municipal librarians, they must be content with a 401(k) retirement fund and no pension...
More at the link, although it doesn't explain how the company will make a profit running the libraries.  Presumably they receive a fee from the state, and then run the library for less than the fee amount. (?)


  1. When I first came across the story earlier today I couldn't believe it. The library is my second home, and can't become a cut-throat business. This is obscene.

  2. Why is it obscene Barbwire? What exactly will a state owner library provide better than a privately owned one?

  3. It is obscene because it takes the COMMUNITIES ( i.e. city, town, village) resources, much of it donations and volunteered time,
    to make profits for the privilaged 1%.



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