It’s terrible that basically the opinion of one person in Escondido, the city manager, is driving this ridiculous proposal to outsource our public library to a private company that in 30 years of business has barely garnered 20 contracts for service with a total of just 83 library buildings most of which are in just two counties, Riverside in California and Jackson County in Oregon. Hardly the kind of diversity one would want to use to model the operation of any library.
With over 9,000 public libraries in the US that’s less than a 1% market penetration. A terrible business record by any standard. However, in trying to create a better library the city manager decides to talk to the 1% of libraries that have been sold out to LS&S not the 99% that have rejected LS&S. How’s that for a very balanced approach to getting answers.
The citizens of Escondido are virtually unanimous in their opposition to this un-American idea of allowing a government resource to be used for private business profit. The previous three directors of the Escondido Library are against the idea. The Library Board of Trustees opposes the idea. The American Library Association opposes the idea. The entire Library staff oppose the idea. And the municipal governments that manage the over 9,000 non-LS&S public libraries in the US oppose the idea. Yet the city manager having swallowed the LS&S sales pitch, hook, line and sinker assumes he knows more than all these other people and organizations, and is trying to railroad this proposal down the throats of Escondido citizens.
Obviously library managers in Shasta county, Riverside county or Jackson county Oregon are going to support LS&S because it allowed their libraries to reopen after shutting down. It was a choice of no library or LS&S. Escondido is not in that situation. Our Library is operating in the black and has state of the art technology, programs and expert staff. We don’t need or want LS&S leaching off our public library for their profits.
And if the city manager thinks this will make it easier to get a new library in Escondido he’s the only one. This will drive away library supporters, volunteers and donors in droves. Would you donate either time or money to a for profit business? I and many others would not. And the division he’s created between city officials and the Escondido community means the chances of getting a bond measure passed for a new library are nil.
Let’s be honest the deal with LS&S is being made for one, and only one reason, to save money. The vague promises of better quality, supported by absolutely no verifiable data, are just a poor attempt to put a good face on a bad deal. The only reason LS&S was brought into the backrooms of city hall to make a deal is because they promise to cut city expenses. If they had said they needed more money to bring quality they would have been sent packing.
It’s time for city officials to listen to the people for a change, instead of a few biased and uninformed accountants, and leave our library as it is, a valuable and great public asset whose service to the citizens of Escondido should not be sold out to the lowest bidder.
Allowing any private business to make a profit off a sacred public asset such as a public library is a disgrace and a shirking of constitutional responsibility by the public officials who would allow it to happen. As Andrew Carnegie, perhaps the greatest supporter of public libraries who ever lived said, “a library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people.” We should be true to the wisdom of Mr. Carnegie and true to the spirit of our democracy and follow the will of the people of Escondido. Do not outsource our Library. Let’s keep it a genuinely public controlled and managed library as are all the great libraries in the United States.
JOHN DONEL, Escondido