This is not the way to support libraries. Two towns here in Massachusetts are proposing privatizing their libraries, saying that they are struggling with continuing services while keeping taxes low.
First of all, this completely goes against the very idea of what public libraries are. Private companies are not accountable to the public the way that a city or country run library is. Or is it? LSSI, the company that already runs libraries in California, Texas, Oregon and Tennessee, say that they would not rely on fees and would instead get their funding through grants and taxes. Kind of like now. So if the libraries would remain free and still operate on the same funding, what exactly would the role of this company be?
Secondly, and this may partly answer that question, I'm concerned about one of the statements in the article: "LSSI generally does not hire unionized employees, helping it to save on benefits packages." Given the way my union has behaved I'm all for not being in a union, but what this says to me is that they don't want to give librarians decent benefits. Because everyone knows that librarians are compensated way too much, right?
Predictably, the MA Board of Library Commissioners opposes the idea. And although the idea was originally proposed by a resident, I have to think that many people won't want their tax dollars going to a private company. I sure wouldn't.
Here is an article about the privatizing of the Jackson County, OR libraries last year. 15 branches had closed due to a budgetary crisis, and re-opened with LSSI running the libraries with a smaller staff receiving fewer benefits.
Maybe I'm just a socialist at heart, but I think corporations have enough power already. It's bad enough that you can't see a movie or a concert or even a roller derby without being advertised to, so let's just keep the private companies out of our libraries, shall we?