VIDEO: Should public libraries be managed by private firms?

October 24, 2010 9:01pm

•  Central Valley system may switch

•  Library support groups oppose it

The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors is exploring with the city of Stockton the potential benefits of privatizing their jointly owned public libraries, using Library Systems & Services LLC, of Germantown, Md., which refers to itself as LSSI.

Two leaders of the opposition to the move -- Vince Perrin, president of the Friends of the Stockton Public Library, and Colleen Foster, retired director of the Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library, talk with CVBT about their concerns.

Please click on the play arrow below to watch.

Opponents of privatization of the Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library system include the American Association of University Women; B&C Management, a Stockton municipal employees union;; Campaign for Common Ground; Central Labor Council; Concerned Citizens Coalition of Stockton; Friends of the Stockton Public Library, Friends of the Linden Public Library, Friends of the Manteca Public Library, and more.

LSSI could not immediately provide a corporate officer to respond to CVBT’s request for an interview. “We tend not to like to comment too often when we still have a proposal out for bid and it’s under consideration,” a spokeswoman said.

The company has about 750 employees, roughly 500 working in the 13 public library systems that the company manages. The remainder are in jobs contracted with the federal government.

Also, according to LSSI’s website, Riverside County, which has a contract with the company, has seen its library system expand from 24 to 33 library sites, increase employment from 119 local employees to 193, more than double of total weekly hours of operation to 1,380 hours per week for all branches combined and increase of the book budget allocation from $180,000 to $1.95 million.

In Redding, the city library, which has three sites, also switched to a management contract with LSSI, which claims that since then, “nearly all” employees were retained and hours of operation are 50 percent over what the city estimated it could provide for the same budgeted dollars.

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