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Privatization of Libraries

Hoplite

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Well, I'm now thoroughly irritated with my hometown

http://scvtalk.com/2010/08/24/disgusted-with-the-whole-lot-of-them-except-bob-kellar/
The City has voted 4-1 to takeover Santa Clarita’s three County-run and County-staffed public libraries, outsource them to a for-profit company that faced no competition in the bidding process, and to do so by July 1, 2011.
In fairness, budget concerns are real but I think our city council rushed to hand the problem off to someone else rather than try to deal with it by less extreme measures.

This is a SERIOUSLY unpopular move in the community.
 
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Barbbtx

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Well, I'm now thoroughly irritated with my hometown

Disgusted with the whole lot of them (except Bob Kellar) | SCVTalk.com


In fairness, budget concerns are real but I think our city council rushed to hand the problem off to someone else rather than try to deal with it by less extreme measures.

This is a SERIOUSLY unpopular move in the community.
Whenever there are "budget" concerns most people start threatening that if they don't raise taxes or get bailed out they will have to start cutting back law enforcement and fire fighters. I think libraries going private might be a good thing if this is the case .
 

MaggieD

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Well, I'm now thoroughly irritated with my hometown

Disgusted with the whole lot of them (except Bob Kellar) | SCVTalk.com


In fairness, budget concerns are real but I think our city council rushed to hand the problem off to someone else rather than try to deal with it by less extreme measures.

This is a SERIOUSLY unpopular move in the community.
You should be delighted that a private company has taken over. They'll do it better and cheaper than your county ever could. I assume it's a money-maker for them since they'll be renting the facilities. Could be a win-win all the way around.
 

Hoplite

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Whenever there are "budget" concerns most people start threatening that if they don't raise taxes or get bailed out they will have to start cutting back law enforcement and fire fighters. I think libraries going private might be a good thing if this is the case .
You should be delighted that a private company has taken over. They'll do it better and cheaper than your county ever could. I assume it's a money-maker for them since they'll be renting the facilities. Could be a win-win all the way around.
The problem is the County already provides great service that NO ONE has a problem with and our 3 libraries have actually been turning almost a $500,000 profit every year the last two years.

Under the new system, LSSI will get rid of ALL books that arent best-sellers or popular and those will be free to check out. If you want ANY OTHER kind of book, you can request it through the County system in which case LSSI will charge you $5 per book (plus shipping and handling on the book(s), once it gets there (In 5-6 weeks) you get the book for two weeks (no renewals), and it's $1 a day late fees. So basically they will have 500+ copies of whatever is new and hot but anything else will cost you to get. That's if your request is approved, LSSI can deny these requests (no, you dont get your money back)

ALL our periodicals and reference material will be kaput and computers will be pay-for-access and probably the same with the wifi (which is free now). There is talk about charging for library programs (currently free) and the libraries will be staffed with clerks, not librarians.

Under the County system, I can order ANY BOOK in the LA County Library System and have it usually in a few days to a week, keep it for three weeks, renew it if I want, and this is all completely free. I have free access to over 7 million books AND several hundred informational databases (LSSI will not pay for access to these databases) as well as city and county records and other periodicals. I can even have books MAILED TO MY HOUSE if I want.

Audio-visual material will also not be transferable between libraries and there's talk of eliminating AV stuff altogether.

Another issue is our city passed a parcel tax specifically to help fund the County library system and our city council is banking on being able to collect that tax for their libraries, except the measure SPECIFICALLY states that it is for the COUNTY library system, not the city.
 
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Grim17

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If privatizing the public libraries saves the jobs of policemen or fire fighters, isn't it worth it?
 

MaggieD

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The problem is the County already provides great service that NO ONE has a problem with and our 3 libraries have actually been turning almost a $500,000 profit every year the last two years.

Under the new system, LSSI will get rid of ALL books that arent best-sellers or popular and those will be free to check out. If you want ANY OTHER kind of book, you can request it through the County system in which case LSSI will charge you $5 per book (plus shipping and handling on the book(s), once it gets there (In 5-6 weeks) you get the book for two weeks (no renewals), and it's $1 a day late fees. So basically they will have 500+ copies of whatever is new and hot but anything else will cost you to get. That's if your request is approved, LSSI can deny these requests (no, you dont get your money back)

ALL our periodicals and reference material will be kaput and computers will be pay-for-access and probably the same with the wifi (which is free now). There is talk about charging for library programs (currently free) and the libraries will be staffed with clerks, not librarians.

Under the County system, I can order ANY BOOK in the LA County Library System and have it usually in a few days to a week, keep it for three weeks, renew it if I want, and this is all completely free. I have free access to over 7 million books AND several hundred informational databases (LSSI will not pay for access to these databases) as well as city and county records and other periodicals. I can even have books MAILED TO MY HOUSE if I want.

Audio-visual material will also not be transferable between libraries and there's talk of eliminating AV stuff altogether.

Another issue is our city passed a parcel tax specifically to help fund the County library system and our city council is banking on being able to collect that tax for their libraries, except the measure SPECIFICALLY states that it is for the COUNTY library system, not the city.
Hoplite, would you explain to me how your three libraries are turning a profit of $500K a year?

Holy crap! Just looked up Santa Clarita. Taxpayers contributed $6.3 million to the county libraries? Unfreakin'believable.
 
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Harshaw

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And why would the county ever give up a cash cow like that?
 

Geo Patric

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horrific.

there have been huge cuts in library hours and sevice here (i am in the library now) but so far, no threat of this nightmare.

the only people who like the idea of privatizing libraries are the one who never use them. public librarys operate on the premise that the value of its being is existential... its value is that it exists. the commodification of information results in the extirpation of information that is not profitable. libraries will become little better than chain bookstores with best seller spy books and trashy romances. the esoteric, the unusual, the truly literate will disappear.

this is a sad story.
geo.
 

Hoplite

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Hoplite, would you explain to me how your three libraries are turning a profit of $500K a year?
I dont know the specifics. Part of it is we've had increased benefaction as well as a much greater utilization of the libraries since the economy went south.

Holy crap! Just looked up Santa Clarita. Taxpayers contributed $6.3 million to the county libraries? Unfreakin'believable.
In return, we get great services. Our libraries and citizens support libraries all over, but in return we get access to TONS of resources.

And why would the county ever give up a cash cow like that?
County has no choice. Legally, the city CAN choose to take over County libraries within their jurisdiction.

horrific.

there have been huge cuts in library hours and sevice here (i am in the library now) but so far, no threat of this nightmare.
That's the only real promise that's been made. LSSI hasnt said anything about what these "better" services they're going to be offering except "more hours." More hours are good, but LSSI wont say anything beyond that and our city manager basically said "We'll figure it out once the deal is complete."
 
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hallam

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You should be delighted that a private company has taken over. They'll do it better and cheaper than your county ever could. I assume it's a money-maker for them since they'll be renting the facilities. Could be a win-win all the way around.

there are something things that companies can't really do. For libraries, the government is the best controlling option because the the means will always out-weight the costs. If a profit takes over, they will just shut down when the going gets tough. A non-profits will probably overrun cost and will not be really useful.
 
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Orion

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Have fun paying new fees for everything, and operating in a system that's going to gouge you.

For-profit companies should never take over these kinds of services. It makes it cost prohibitive for many.
 

MaggieD

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there are something things that companies can't really do. For libraries, the government is the best controlling option because the the means will always out-weight the costs. If a profit takes over, they will just shut down when the going gets tough. A non-profits will probably overrun cost and will not be really useful.
Yes, there are some things companies can't do -- run at a loss. Privatize the post office and watch it turn a profit. Maybe the people who make the most use of the library are actually going to have to pony up.
 

Renae

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Okay, we've heard the horror stories, the lie that the libraries were running a 500k a year profit... but were too costly too keep so were turned over to a private company :roll:

How about we revisit this in 2012. Perhaps then we can see what really has occurred, not what scary theories are on.
 

Deuce

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Yes, there are some things companies can't do -- run at a loss. Privatize the post office and watch it turn a profit. Maybe the people who make the most use of the library are actually going to have to pony up.
Why are people always under the impression that the post office is some giant loss for the government? The post office for decades would break even or run at a small net positive. (it is legally barred from making profit) It's only very recently with the drastic drop in sending letters/bills/etc by mail (everyone going electronic) that they've started losing money.

Yet, they will take a letter from New York and put it on an airplane, fly it to California and deliver it by hand for about 1/4 the price that FedEx would do it. The free market is not magic, and you're forgetting the entire purpose of the library (and post office) in the first place: providing a very important service to people at zero or minimal cost.
 

Renae

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Why are people always under the impression that the post office is some giant loss for the government? The post office for decades would break even or run at a small net positive. (it is legally barred from making profit) It's only very recently with the drastic drop in sending letters/bills/etc by mail (everyone going electronic) that they've started losing money.

Yet, they will take a letter from New York and put it on an airplane, fly it to California and deliver it by hand for about 1/4 the price that FedEx would do it. The free market is not magic, and you're forgetting the entire purpose of the library (and post office) in the first place: providing a very important service to people at zero or minimal cost.
You really have no idea how the world works do you?

Yet, they will take a letter from New York and put it on an airplane, fly it to California and deliver it by hand for about 1/4 the price that FedEx would do it. The free market is not magic, and you're forgetting the entire purpose of the library (and post office) in the first place: providing a very important service to people at zero or minimal cost.
When it costs more to do, then not to do, someone always pays buddy. You have this strange notion that just because it's a "Gov't" service, it's okay to operate at a huge loss...
 

MaggieD

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Why are people always under the impression that the post office is some giant loss for the government? The post office for decades would break even or run at a small net positive. (it is legally barred from making profit) It's only very recently with the drastic drop in sending letters/bills/etc by mail (everyone going electronic) that they've started losing money.

Yet, they will take a letter from New York and put it on an airplane, fly it to California and deliver it by hand for about 1/4 the price that FedEx would do it. The free market is not magic, and you're forgetting the entire purpose of the library (and post office) in the first place: providing a very important service to people at zero or minimal cost.
$6.3 million for Santa Clarita libraries is hardly zero or minimal cost. Where on earth do you come up with any library system running at zero to minimal cost?

The post office still walks mail house to house to house to house...up and down and up and down porch steps. Neither rain nor snow nor sleet nor hail will keep your postal worker from making far more than any UPS/FedX driver could dream of making. With a fine public pension to boot.

The post office's last fiscal year (ending 9/30/09) saw them lose $3.8 billion. In the two prior years, they lost a total of $7.8 billion. They now owe the Federal government $10.2 billion and have a $15 billion ceiling on what they can borrow. This year ending 9/30/10, they estimate they'll be losing another $7.8 billion. The post office needs to be (and probably will be) completely overhauled in the next several years. Oh....unless Congress just raises their debt ceiling. HSBC Insurance This article is titled, "Can the Postal Service be Saved?" The better question is, "Should the Postal Service be saved."
 

TurtleDude

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Have fun paying new fees for everything, and operating in a system that's going to gouge you.

For-profit companies should never take over these kinds of services. It makes it cost prohibitive for many.
libraries are not something people should be taxed to support

government is too big and too expensive

public safety is a main government responsibility

why not open up public HS libraries to those whose property taxes fund the schools?
 

JohnWOlin

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I'm not sure where I stand on libraries. My library is typically bumping with people but they are getting videos, games, reading magazines, or on the computers. I think they are a great service that save you a lot of money and I still know plenty of people like my gf and step-dad that will borrow a crap load of books, but I think that we should look carefully at each library and their situation.
 

Hoplite

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Yes, there are some things companies can't do -- run at a loss. Privatize the post office and watch it turn a profit. Maybe the people who make the most use of the library are actually going to have to pony up.
Except most of the people who utilize the libraries cant afford the kinds of fees that will be charged, thats why they use the library instead of buying what they read/watch.

Okay, we've heard the horror stories, the lie that the libraries were running a 500k a year profit... but were too costly too keep so were turned over to a private company
The $500,000 surplus was from our city's own Finance Manager, one of the key people pushing the privatization.

How about we revisit this in 2012. Perhaps then we can see what really has occurred, not what scary theories are on.
This is not "scary theory", this is a real problem that was severely mishandled.
 

Renae

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The $500,000 surplus was from our city's own Finance Manager, one of the key people pushing the privatization.
You don't get it do you? Your "finance manager" is either a liar, or an idiot.
 

Orion

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libraries are not something people should be taxed to support

government is too big and too expensive

public safety is a main government responsibility

why not open up public HS libraries to those whose property taxes fund the schools?
Are you against everything that is community/tax funded? I mean honestly, how deep does this selfishness run?
 

PeteEU

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Should have raised taxes instead. Private companies cant run public service companies. I bet there would be no libraries left there within a few years. But then again, keep the poor dumb and you can control them better.
 

Hoplite

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You don't get it do you?
Ok, quick check, which one of us lived there until extremely recently? That would be me. I AM familiar with city politics and having family in the library system, even moreso with the running and management of the libraries.

Your "finance manager" is either a liar, or an idiot.
Ok, what exactly would he have to GAIN by inflating the income? This is a guy who is gung-ho for LSSI to come in, why would he artificially inflate the income when that fact HURTS his arguments?

The $500,000 number came from the City of Santa Clarita, the County of Los Angeles, and the LA County Regional Library Comission.

Give it up.
 

Renae

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Ok, quick check, which one of us lived there until extremely recently? That would be me. I AM familiar with city politics and having family in the library system, even moreso with the running and management of the libraries.


Ok, what exactly would he have to GAIN by inflating the income? This is a guy who is gung-ho for LSSI to come in, why would he artificially inflate the income when that fact HURTS his arguments?

The $500,000 number came from the City of Santa Clarita, the County of Los Angeles, and the LA County Regional Library Comission.

Give it up.
WHY WOULD A CITY TURN OVER A PROFITABLE ENDEVOUR TO PRIVATE ENTERPRISE TO "SAVE MONEY".

That makes NO SENSE AT ALL.

"Damn Bob, this Library thing is profiting at 500k a year, we cannot afford this, let's turn it over to private enterprise!"
 

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Ok, what exactly would he have to GAIN by inflating the income? This is a guy who is gung-ho for LSSI to come in, why would he artificially inflate the income when that fact HURTS his arguments? The $500,000 number came from the City of Santa Clarita, the County of Los Angeles, and the LA County Regional Library Comission. Give it up.
Hoplite, there is no substantial revenue stream in public libraries other than taxpayer dollars. Making a $500K profit? On their 25-cent-a-day late fees? Ridiculous. Libraries don't make profits, they suck the life out of taxpayers.
 
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