In 2009 I wrote a controversial piece about privatizing library services. Well, it was controversial for public employee librarians and their fans. But it’s not just some unproven theory — it’s been done, and done well.
Riverside County has a 35 branch system. In 1996 the county contracted out the OPERATION of the libraries to Library Systems and Services, LLC(LSSI), a private company that provides this service nationwide to public libraries. The county retained title to the buildings and grounds. At that time, the county was in financial difficulties, so it sought an alternative to its problem-plagued library system.
The county paid LSSI the same operating budget it was paying for the government run library system. The result was substantially more library hours, more programs, bigger book budgets and FAR fewer customer complaints.
While LSSI guaranteed to hire the same staff at the same salaries, it reduced the benefits package to private sector standards. Moreover, the employees were then “at will”… Read More