Wednesday, November 4, 2015

As U.S. Libraries Are Outsourced, Readers See Public Trust Erode - Bloomberg

Carnegie libraries
& American culture, 1890-1920
by Abigail Ayres Van Slyck
As U.S. Libraries Are Outsourced, Readers See Public Trust Erode
Bloomberg: 11.02.2015 by James Nash

A Maryland company that runs public libraries has more than doubled in size in the past decade as governments seek savings. Bibliophile residents complain that an investment in knowledge and culture is being milked for profit.

Library Systems & Services LLC is running into opposition as it seeks to add the 24 libraries in Kern County, California, to its portfolio of 82 in six states, allowing the county to shed a unionized workforce of 118. The county north of Los Angeles would be the largest addition for LSSI since the firm, which is owned by Wayne, Pennsylvania-based Argosy Capital Group Inc., got into the book business in 1997.

The only coast-to-coast operator of public libraries has capitalized on a recession-driven trend of contracting out government functions. Chicago leased its 36,000 parking meters to a Morgan Stanley-led partnership in 2008. Georgia’s universities last year turned over student-housing management to Corvias Group LLC for 65 years. The San Bernardino, California, City Council in May voted to outsource 15 services including fire protection and park maintenance as part of a strategy to exit bankruptcy.

In Kern County, the bid for private management has residents debating whether the printed word is a special trust.

“This is meant to increase business profits and drive down quality,” said Esdras Quintana, a 14-year library information-technology employee and member of the Service Employees International Union. “We need to invest more in our libraries. Turning over our libraries to LSSI would not be an investment. It would be an abandonment of a precious public asset.”  READ MORE !

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