Last week there appeared in your paper a long article on the Oregon County report on LS&S services. Deep in the article, City Manager Jeff Epp was quoted as saying, “Jackson County has been the ONLY government entity that has expressed any concerns with LSS. Every other city, county, or library they have done business with has provided glowing reviews of LSS performance and working relationships.”
That statement is blatantly wrong! A 15-minute google search produced the following information. (In addition to the three libraries cited in the article below, I am also aware that Linden, NJ, Fargo, ND, and Hemet, CA, all have voided their contracts with LS&S.) Here is an excerpt of an article by Donald Cohen from the Huffington Post, July 30, 2015.
“Privatized libraries make up for less professional staff by depending on unpaid volunteers and automation. …. Even LSSI’s basic sales pitch that they can operate libraries for less than the public is suspect. When the town of Dartmouth, MA, evaluated a proposal to privatize their libraries, they found there was no evidence that privatization saved communities money. San Juan, TX, remunicipalized their libraries after contracting with LSSI for five years due to frustrations with the company’s refusal to divulge its profit margin. After bringing their libraries back under local control, town leaders were able to extend branch hours, giving residents better flexibility and access. The California town of Calabasas canceled its contract with LSSI and saved $68,000 in their first year back with public library service.”
Mr. Epp is a well-established lawyer and a very highly paid city official. He has at his disposal other lawyers and a vast array of resources to investigate LS&S on his own, not simply buying the company line. I have seen no evidence that he and his staff have “evaluated a proposal to privatize” our library, as Dartmouth did. Nor have they seriously considered other options, such as joining the county or developing a library district. I believe this Council did more research in deciding what company should do their billing than in handing off this most treasured community service to an (almost) completely unknown entity.
VIRGINIA ABUSHANAB, Escondido