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The privatization movement, ever on the lookout for profit opportunities, is moving fast into the takeover of public libraries. Since a for-profit corporation must pay its investors, privatization is actually a budget cut for the library.
Jeremy Mohler of “In the Public Interest” describes here how the privatizers are targeting public libraries.
“With 82 branches across six states, Library Systems & Services (LS&S) is the country’s third-largest library system, smaller than only Chicago and New York City. It pitches itself to towns and counties by making many of the same arguments in the op-ed. That libraries aren’t “innovative” enough without the corporation’s management and “social entrepreneurship.” That it can help libraries become a “third place” between work and home — as if they weren’t already just that for many poor and working people.
“Like Amazon, LS&S slashes employee pay and benefits to turn a profit while shrouding its dealings in secrecy. Last year, it was hit with nearly $70,000 in penalties for wage and hour violations. In 2016, an audit of one of its libraries in Oregon revealed that 28 percent of the public money paid to the corporation was filed under the ominous category of “other,” unknown even to public officials.
“Fortunately, communities often resist LS&S coming into town. Just this week, Seminole County, Florida, decided to keep its libraries under public control after residents organized. Earlier this year, leaders in Santa Clarita, California, voted to end the city’s contract after LS&S replaced all 17 of its librarians.”