Outsourcing our Public Libraries!

Dear Commons Community,

In the past several decades, we have seen public operations (sanitation, schools, prisons) outsourced to private, for-profit companies.  Now we have public libraries outsourced to a private firm.  Library Systems and Services, Inc. (L.S.S.I.) has been contracted by the Santa Clarita City Council (California) to run its three public libraries for a fee of $4 million per year.  This story begs the question:

“Can a municipal service like a library hold so central a place that it should be entrusted to a profit-driven contractor only as a last resort — and maybe not even then?”

I have to confess that I had never heard of outsourcing library services before but L.S.S.I. is already operating fourteen public library systems and is ranked as the fifth largest operator of library branches in the country  after Los Angeles County, the New York Public Library, the Chicago Public Library, and the City of Los Angeles Public Library.

The NY Times article on this is available at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/27/business/27libraries.html?th&emc=th


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