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Outsourcing of US Public Libraries Increases – Transparency and Jobs Decline

Bloomberg, James Nash – As U.S. Libraries Are Outsourced, Readers See Public Trust Erode – “A Maryland company that runs public libraries has more than doubled in size in the past decade as governments seek savings. Bibliophile residents complain that an investment in knowledge and culture is being milked for profit. Library Systems & Services LLC is running into opposition as it seeks to add the 24 libraries in Kern County, California, to its portfolio of 82 in six states, allowing the county to shed a unionized workforce of 118. The county north of Los Angeles would be the largest addition for LSSI since the firm, which is owned by Wayne, Pennsylvania-based Argosy Capital Group Inc., got into the book business in 1997…Today, LSSI is the fourth-largest library operator in the U.S., after public systems in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles County. LSSI has added more than 20 in the past five years, but the trajectory hasn’t been constant. San Juan, Texas; Linden, New Jersey; and Fargo, North Dakota, have severed their relationship over complaints about the company’s tacking on costs and paying bills late, according to press accounts. In San Juan, city commissioners said the company wanted to charge an excessive amount to add Sunday hours, teen programming and more books, without disclosing its profit margin…”

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