Return of the Public Library

By , November 2, 2010 6:17 pm

by Philippe Cloutier

In a previous LLOPSCited post, the private company, Library Systems & Services, LLC (LSSI), is highlighted and questioned. That post concludes by questioning the prospect of the government bedding down with for-profit libraries.

No less than a month after the New York Times’ LSSI piece  comes worry over Santa Clarita, California City Council’s venture into a 5-year $19-million private library contract. A news article details a local nonprofit’s, Save Our Library, quest to uncover the truth. The Santa Clarita City Council may have violated California’s Brown Act, “by discussing and making a decision to take over the libraries in closed-session meetings”; moreover, requests for all government records concerning the library have been met with road-blocks.

Lastly, a private library system contracting with the government may actually violate the California Constitution and other privacy laws. An additional Santa Clarita article details a lawsuit against the city, amid privacy concerns.

During times of economic disparity, public trust in government tends to decline. The same can be said of public trust in big business. To be certain, LSSI isn’t a mom and pop library start-up either: they are majority-owned by a Boston private equity firm, Islington Capital Partners. The citizens are rightly wary of this marriage, but hopefully, government, business and the people can all negotiate a satisfactory outcome.

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