The road to privatizing libraries

Frank Pezzanite can't be making many friends among librarians. He's trying to convince municipalities around the country that his company, Library Systems & Services, can do a better and cheaper job running public libraries. The city of Santa Clarita hired him to operate its three libraries - and he's promising to save $1 million a year, mainly by cutting overhead and replacing unionized employees. From the NYT:

"A lot of libraries are atrocious," Mr. Pezzanite said. "Their policies are all about job security. That's why the profession is nervous about us. You can go to a library for 35 years and never have to do anything and then have your retirement. We're not running our company that way. You come to us, you're going to have to work."


The members of the Santa Clarita City Council who voted to hire L.S.S.I. acknowledge there was no immediate threat to the libraries. The council members say they want to ensure the libraries' long-term survival in a state with increasingly shaky finances. Until now, the three branch locations have been part of the Los Angeles County library system. Under the new contract, the branches will be withdrawn from county control and all operations -- including hiring staff and buying books -- ceded to L.S.S.I.

Library employees are furious about the contract - as are many patrons.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
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