Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Library privatization

Via Hullabaloo today, one of the bloggers there is doing a bit of a shout out to a Democratic Assemblyman in California, Das Williams of Santa Barbara, in an effort to illustrate why Democrats should stick together and not implode over various Obama failings. This is the gist of the Williams anti-privatization of libraries bill:
The measure, awaiting a vote in the Senate, would place strict conditions on cities contemplating contracting out for library services, including requirements for multiple advance notices of a public hearing, the completion of a study enumerating anticipated savings, open bidding and an assurance that no existing library employees would lose their pay and benefits.

The bill is strongly opposed by local government officials, who say the proposed restrictions are so severe that the bill would effectively eliminate the option of contracting out.
Interesting legislative effort. Great photo of Williams fighting the "privatization beast" here.

The Hullabaloo post goes on to link to this New York Times article from fall 2010 on L.S.S.I. ("Library Systems & Services"), a leading corporate library privatizer in the U.S. ("The company is majority owned by Islington Capital Partners, a private equity firm in Boston, and has about $35 million in annual revenue and 800 employees."). That piece covers some of the debate surrounding L.S.S.I.'s takeover of public libraries in a number of U.S. states, including in Santa Clarita where the chief method of cost cutting L.S.S.I. proposed involved "cutting overhead and replacing unionized employees." There has been a mixed track record in the U.S. on library privatization: "Some L.S.S.I. customers have ended their contracts, while in other places, opposition has faded with time."

L.S.S.I. apparently is eyeing Toronto's situation as well, a Star piece worth a read as background on our debate.

Here is the link to the "Our Public Library" petition.

P.S. One of the best library renovations in the city, Bloor Gladstone, this really is stunning. Visits are way up.