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Saving Public Libraries from the Privatization Beast
Privatization Threatens America's Public Libraries and Library Services
WASHINGTON - February 18 - The public library is an American institution - but right now, it's under threat of being
transformed from a public service to a for-profit venture. SEIU is partnering with community residents, local organizations and librarians to save public libraries from widespread privatization efforts.
To help coordinate their efforts, SEIU has launched the PrivatizationBeast.org campaign to support local community efforts to preserve quality public library services. The first focus will be to support efforts to keep the public library services public at the Santa Clarita library system in Southern California.
Currently, Library Systems and Services (LSSI) is the only private company that offers turnkey private library management in the United States and is often the only company in line to take over a local library system. LSSI has taken over libraries in Oregon, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, Kansas and California and has reduced services and staff while relying on more volunteers to make a profit. As the sole bidder, there is no market and no competition - so there is no "free market" mechanism to improve performance or reduce costs.
Santa Clarita Residents Defend Public Library Services and Local Taxes
The three Santa Clarita libraries are scheduled to be taken over by LSSI beginning July 1, 2011. The decision to privatize the libraries has already cost the city $3 million in unanticipated losses in revenue and additional expenses. On February 14th, a third lawsuit was filed to prevent the LSSI contract from taking effect this year by local residents.
"As a public librarian, I believe that library services should be available to everyone and this can best be done through a strong public library system," said Cindy Singer, SEIU 721
member and Los Angeles County Librarian. "The residents of Santa Clarita did not have a choice or a voice in their Council's decision to privatize their libraries and how their tax dollars are spent. I will be supporting them as they continue to hold their elected officials accountable for their decision."
Stockton California Residents Push Back on Library Privatization and WIN!
On February 8th, the Stockton City Council and San Joaquin Board of Supervisors voted to keep their public libraries from being privatized. Thousands of residents expressed concern about the potential threat and released this statement after the decision to not sign a contract with LSSI was announced.
"Libraries are at the foundation of our democracy. We are proud of our local leaders for saying no to privatizing our public libraries," said Vince Perrin, president of the Friends of
the Stockton Library, and Sylvia Kothe, chair of the Concerned Citizens Coalition, in a joint statement. "We hope that other organizations will stand up and fight against the privatization of public libraries in their communities."
Learn more and take action by visiting http://privatizationbeast.org.