Library Privatization

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There are many services that we hope local governments can provide–among them are police, fire, building inspections and, hopefully, libraries.  So it is interesting to read that in Kern County, California, the country supervisors are contemplating turning over their library system to a private company operating out of Maryland.

The supervisors are faced with turning over their county’s 24 branches and two bookmobiles to Library Systems & Services, Inc. or to place a sales tax increase of one-eighth of a cent to fund the libraries.

Nearby, Riverside and Santa Clarita have turned to LSSI to manage their libraries.  Those libraries have not indicated that library services have deteriorated, but improvement of library services isn’t on their agenda.  LSSI will add their profits to the list of expenses that libraries ordinarily incur.

California’s Prop 13 impacted, among other institutions, libraries which cannot because of this law manage a large amount of cash that it formerly could.  A local group fighting privatization has posed the key question: “If a local government won’t deliver a service as fundamental to community interests as a library, what is it good for?”

Let’s hope that that argument convinces the supervisors of Kern County.

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