Outrage over outsourcing in public libraries


The Sunday New York Times published an article entitled Anger as a Private Company Takes Over Libraries which looks at the for-profit Library Systems & Services (L.S.S.I.), an outsourcing company that, according to the article, makes its money (more often than not) by “cleaning house”. In other words, saving taxpayers money by replacing unionized workers.

Library employees are often the most resistant to his company, said Mr. Pezzanite, a co-founder of L.S.S.I. — and, he suggested, for reasons that only reinforce the need for a new approach. “Pensions crushed General Motors, and it is crushing the governments in California,” he said. While the company says it rehires many of the municipal librarians, they must be content with a 401(k) retirement fund and no pension.

J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

In Santa Clarita, California, where L.S.S.I. has been hired for the first time to run a system in a relatively healthy city, library workers aren’t the only folks expressing resistance to the privitization of public libraries. Jane Hanson, who is 81 and has been a library patron for nearly 50 years, was so bothered by the outsourcing contract that she became involved in local politics for the first time since 1969, when she worked for a recall movement related to the Vietnam War. “A library is the heart of the community,” said Mrs. Hanson. “I’m in favor of private enterprise, but I can’t feel comfortable with what the city is doing here.”

Here’s LSSI’s press releasecoverage from the Los Angeles Daily News, which refers to the company as “LSS,” and coverage from the Santa Clarita Valley Signal. Thanks to Norman Oder of LJ Insider who also wrote on the issue.

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