Government Spending

As Someone Who Worked in a Public Library as a Teenager and Now Pay Higher Taxes to Support My Town's Library, I Hope They All Get Outsourced Like This One!


The New York Times has a story about the terrible menace of outsourcing the administration of public libraries. Just how horrifying is it all? A private company figures it can save Santa Clarita, California $1 million a year running the city's three library branches. The sons of bitches!

"There's this American flag, apple pie thing about libraries," said Frank A. Pezzanite, the outsourcing company's chief executive. He has pledged to save $1 million a year in Santa Clarita, mainly by cutting overhead and replacing unionized employees. "Somehow they have been put in the category of a sacred organization."

The company, known as L.S.S.I., runs 14 library systems operating 63 locations. Its basic pitch to cities is that it fixes broken libraries — more often than not by cleaning house.

"A lot of libraries are atrocious," Mr. Pezzanite said. "Their policies are all about job security. That's why the profession is nervous about us. You can go to a library for 35 years and never have to do anything and then have your retirement. We're not running our company that way. You come to us, you're going to have to work."

As someone who absolutely loved my hometown library (when the nearest bookstore, a crappy Waldenbooks, was 12 miles away) and worked as a part-time page at Middletown, New Jersey's main branch library on good ol' New Monmouth Road some 30 years ago, my personal testimony's relevance is limited. But I can tell you that I never met a bunch of lazier workers than I did at that cushy, air-conditioned pleasure-dome (and I've worked a lot of different shit gigs, including heavily unionized ones). I can only imagine the spark of terror Mr. Pezzanite (if that is his real name) must send through the spines of municipal library workers around this sweet land of liberty.

And I can understand why they fight against the outsourcing of their jobs. But you know what? Governments are supposed to be service providers, not jobs programs. The government is supposed to provide for the public, not milk it dry. And when push comes to shove, and the only way to maintain current public-employee compensation levels is to cut services and jack up taxes to pay for higher-than-the-private-sector salaries and benefits, it's time to say goodnight, Gracie.

The coming war between the private sector and the public sector approacheth and ask yourself whether you want to have enough disposable income to fund your own health care and retirement or do you want to pay more in taxes to make sure that public sector workers who make more than you can retire younger and in Cadillac style?

Back to the books: Just this spring, my current hometown and home county (Oxford, Ohio in Butler County) passed a new tax to fund the county library system. The property tax will kick $25 per $100,000 home value to the system, raising about $2.5 million in order to … restore some cuts in hours due to earlier state cutbacks in aid. Stunningly to my small-government, Taxed-Enough-Already mind-set, the levy (which supporters kept boasting was the library system's first request in "144 years," as if the thing wasn't always funded by taxes) passed by a 2-to-1 margin in this crappy economy. Clearly, more people are renting the DVDs than trolling the economics section. Every Marxist and libertarian will tell you (correctly) that libraries, like musuems, are classic examples of middle- and upper-class theft. They are disproportianately used by wealthier citizens who fund them by taxing the lower orders, all in the name of civilizing the brutes. It's a great scam.

I wish I'd known about L.S.S.I. before the election took place, as their very existence offers up a realistic alternative to the status quo. Imagine getting the same or better service for less money? OK, we expect that in every area of human interaction—with the exception of government.

L.S.S.I. operates libraries in four states and is now the fifth-largest library system in the country. After the cost savings, the best part of a deal like the one Santa Clarita is cutting is that they can change it if it doesn't work out.

Some L.S.S.I. customers have ended their contracts, while in other places, opposition has faded with time. In Redding, Calif., Jim Ceragioli, a board member of the Friends of Shasta County Library, said he initially counted himself among the skeptics.

But he has since changed his mind. "I can't think of anything that's been lost," Mr. Ceragioli said.

The library in Redding has expanded its services and hours. And the volunteers are still showing up — even if their assistance is now aiding a private company. "We volunteer more than ever now," Mr. Ceragioli said.

If they suck at running your library or your streets are now crawling with reference librarians turned hobos, you can kick their sorry ass to the street. That—a potential $1 million in savings—is reason enough to give them and companies like them, a shot. And not just in four states. And not just with libraries.

Whole story here.

NEXT: Last Week's Top 5 Hit & Run Posts

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  1. The sons of bitches!

    Heh. Thanks, The Jacket.

  2. Let Google take over the DMV.

  3. cutting overhead and replacing unionized employees

    But you repeat yourself.

  4. Governments are supposed to be service providers, not jobs programs. The government is supposed to provide for the public, not milk it dry.

    Silly libertarians! Everyone knows that government creates jobs and no one would have a job if it weren’t for the government!


    1. You laugh, but I have heard people make that exact same arguments. To be fair, they were university students who had no idea that there exists a reality beyond their campus walls. But they still vote, and in larger percentages than do libertarians.

  5. Its a shame to see libraries across the nation taking such a hit with the economy. Getting a book and using a computer at a library was the one place you didn’t have to cough up money. If private companies take this over, I’m sure we will see a Starbucks in our local libraries grabbing you in to spend some money.

    1. I’m sure we will see a Starbucks in our local libraries grabbing you in to spend some money.

      Yup. That’s what private businesses do. They grab people and take their money in exchange for providing a good or a service.

      1. Wouldn’t be be better if everyone paid for Starbucks so that the few people who want coffee can get it for free?

        1. as a devout librarian, this makes so much sense! who doesn’t free coffee? For pennies, just pennies on the dollar we all can get whatever we need for free.

          1. Why don’t we just sent the starving children there? After all, everybody knows you can feed them for the price of a cup of coffee a day.

    2. The Minneapolis Central Library opened a few years back. It has a Dunn Bros. Coffee shop built right in.

    3. That’s the great thing about burrocrat-think…”Getting a book and using a computer” are the sole possible options in a library.
      What about getting a book, using a computer AND drinking some coffee (for which you may have to cough up money)? Craziness, I know.
      I’ve even heard that some museums serve food! Good God, man, the horror!

      1. I paid, like, $10 for a really shitty lunch at the National Gallery last year.

        1. Griffith Observatory has a Wolfgang Puck’s express built in. Who gives a fuck if vendors set up in government-run facilities. What, it might actually lower the public cost of such ventures if done appropriately (which I strongly doubt).

          1. Brothels would boost attendance.

    4. We, of all people, need to defend libraries!

      Aren’t many, if not most, of us members of the Librarian Party?

      Oh, wait–

  6. I lose some libertarian cachet by mty support of public libraries. Maybe the poor don’t use them as much as the middle and upper classes, but the opportunity to self educate is an important one that some poor people use to help better themselves economically and intellectually.

    Y’all can blsat away with more libertarian than thou comments, I don’t mind. Libertarianism is a political philosophy, not a religious dogma.

    Thar said, outsource the suckers to a company that requires employees to put in eight hours work for eight hours pay. Odin knows, the government won’t do it.

    1. public libraries are about 47,000,000th on my list of things to worry about. For one thing, they are locally funded and Im much more concerned about federal and state abuses than local.

      I do figure when we get that far down the list, people will have enough money to fund a non-profit public library without needing government funds. I would contribute towards that.

      1. Good point

      2. I do figure when we get that far down the list, people will have enough money to fund a non-profit public library without needing government funds.

        So, around the year 1,273,669?

    2. I hope you enjoy reading all those books paid for with BLOOD MONEY! I’d love to have back the money STOLEN from me at gunpoint on a monthly basis to provide free books to a bunch of FREELOADERS, while the local Barnes & Noble, which I really do enjoy going to is having a very hard time staying in business. And I’ll bet most of the self-education consists of reading a bunch of jingoistic nonsense history and Keynsian BS. How much Murray Rothbard do you think you can find at your local public library?

      Hey, you said you didn’t mind a little libertarian sanctimony, so I gave it my best shot.

      I really am against public libraries, but they are pretty damn low on my list too.

      1. Dear Cracker:
        Most of us cannot afford to buy all of the books we want to read. I am a librarian at a public library in NJ, but I buy books from Barnes & Noble and Borders as well as reading books from our collection.

        Book Budgets permitting, librarians try to buy materials on both sides of controversial issues. We stretch our budgets through interlibrary loan. Although many libraries restrict interlibrary loan of audiovisual materials because they can be damaged in transit, you should be able to get almost any book you want by requesting an interlibrary loan through your local library. I checked Rothbard in our catalog. Although our library does not have his works, libraries in our consortium own 7 titles by him, some in multiple editions (for a total of 11 entries) which can be borrowed by our patrons.

    3. Close down one campus of the state’s university system (why does it need a campus in every legislative district anyway?), and use that money to fund the libraries.

  7. Louisville had a vote to raise the employment tax to fund the libraries. At went down in a blaze of defeat but led to a great phone call with the Glinc, the local chamber of commerce. They asked why we hadnt renewed and I sited their support of the tax increase (this was before the vote), they were all sputtery and said they would have a rep call me to explain their rationale. I never received the call.

    1. LFPL has been chasing a dedicated tax for years. They want to be Lexington, the system that has so much money it keeps building branches all over the place so they don’t look over-funded.

      1. I got fired from the LFPL. They said my “personality didn’t fit being a librarian”. Bastards.

        1. So you were hard-working and industrious?

          1. He was a surly ass who treat patrons with disdain because he was so much smarter than them. “get it yourself” and “jeez, do you want me to read it for you too?” were the kinds of things he said. He hated being interupted at the reference desk when he was trying to play that farm game on Facebook.

      2. Regarding SugarFree’s comments about the Lexington Public Library:

        Six locations to serve 297,000 people over 285 square miles isn’t exactly what I would call “branches all over the place.” And not looking overfunded isn’t all that difficult when the Lexington Public Library receives the minimum funding allowed by state law (in a state not known for over-funding its public libraries). In fact, even within the Lexington metropolitan area, the Lexington Public Library ranks fourth of six in per capita funding. Statewide, the majority of public library systems (this is Kentucky we’re talking about) receive more funding per capita than Lexington. The claim of extravagance is simply baseless.

        1. Bullshit. But keep shoveling, I’m sure there’s a pony in there somewhere.

    2. they were all sputtery and said they would have a rep call me to explain their rationale. I never received the call.

      Parasites know when a host can’t be fed-off anymore.

  8. Here’s some complete bullshit from California:

    1. I’m at work, so I haven’t followed the link, but it seems that something “from California” carries a heavy presumtion of bullshit in the first place.

      1. It’s a map produced by some university groups/think-tanks in CA that is supposed to represent scenarios for how CA can adapt to the future ( “California Dreaming: Imagining New Futures for the State”). Needless to say it’s all “green jobs” and buzzword bullshit.

        Not a scintilla of reality in it.

        1. “Urban Foodshed”

          I think I hurt myself rolling my eyes that hard.

          1. urban foodshed sounds gritty and high in fiber.

            1. Goes in, comes out. What’s not to like?

          2. It’s so far removed from the realities of economics, politics, infrastructure demands, common horse sense and everything else that I feel the an urgent need to ring up a Californian and berate them.

            To think that I once assumed that UC Berkeley’s CITRIS initiative was useful.

            1. The nightmare scenario revolves around… GASP!… privatization! Boo! Hiss!

              1. The question is, just why is CA so politically retarded? Is it an ego thing? I could never work it out when I lived there.

                1. I have a nasty theory involving genetics and effort… The original non-Native American population made it out there in only two ways: A perilous overland route with a high attrition rate or an expensive perilous trip around the tip of South America with a medium-high attrition rate. They were pioneer stock. Hardy pioneer stock.

                  I imagine the problem mostly comes from people who came later through the comfy train/plane/bus/car route.

  9. My mom was a librarian in a public elemntary school before she retired – does she get Double Evil Points for being a librarian AND a public school employee?

    I think she does.

    Plus, I sent this to my sister, the Library Science (sic) Prof, just for lulz.

    Can’t wait for the next family get together!!

    1. Almanian,

      That means that your childhood, upbringing, food/clothing/shelter, etc. and your continued education tuition (if you have any, lol) was funded by your mom’s salary, i.e. tax dollars. I’d keep my mouth shut if I were you. Hypocrite.

      1. Nothing hypocritical about that. One can realize that one benefited from the public teat while understanding that doing so was wrong.

        1. Spencer,

          That’s the definition of being a hypocrite.

          1. No, if one continues to do the same thing it they are a hypocrite, if they learn from the past they are not.

      2. “That means that your childhood, upbringing, food/clothing/shelter, etc. and your continued education tuition (if you have any, lol) was funded by your mom’s salary, i.e. tax dollars. ”

        What’s so wrong about that? All the people paying those taxes consented to paying by choosing to stay in a country they knew would tax them. Caveat emptor or whatever you libertarians say when you defend closing down the EPA.

  10. Reason could outsource Gillespie’s “work” to a sheltered workshop and probably get a higher quality. What a fucking party-line moron!

    1. He could get higher quality by just filtering your comments.


      1. I don’t get it Max, are you coming out of the dog closet?

        Go troll somewhere else.

        1. It’s not really a closet, more like a clapboard shed near the run-off lake at a pig farm.

        2. Go fuck yourself.

          1. I don’t get why this is some form of insult. You are wishing that I bring myself pleasure?

            Or is it that you’re telling me to shove something up my ass? Wouldn’t that be go gay fuck yourself (no homo)?


    3. Party-line?

    4. Which party would that be exactly?

  11. I’m a son of a librarian as well, so obviously biased, but as far as government programs go libraries seem among the least insidious. A low priority on libertarian hit lists, anyways.

    Then again, from my mom’s own testimony, there is a lot of slacking there. Awful management is the biggest problem; I can’t say whether or not this outsourcing firm would improve that, but politically appointed positions and nepotism haven’t cut it so far.

  12. I am a librarian. I am a libertarian librarian. I currently work in the private sector.

    However, I started out in the public sector in a the DFW area in Texas. I can tell you- even though we’re not unionized down here as a rule- friends were hired and administrator positions created for no reason. Bad employees were allowed to stay on – some even reinstated after they were fired because a citizen review board said we had to take them back.

    Money was wasted on the non-essentials etc. However, I can tell you, in my experience, that the middle and upper classes DID NOT use the libraries I worked in more than the lower classes and homeless. This was just not the case. (I can’t speak for the overall library system I was in, but only the specific library branches I worked at, all in low income areas.)

    That being said, I am all for membership libraries. I have no problem with all libraries being membership owned and driven- perhaps with a mandate to allow access to those meeting whatever the hell criteria they choose. They should pay money to a fund and then purchase/ lease the real estate and inventory from the city and then take over. Then, you want a card? Ok, pay your $5 annual fee (or whatever the math dictates).

    I think that this is an even better solution to the private companies- but I’m cool with them too. Librarians shouldn’t be paid $40k/year to do what someone at Barnes and Noble get’s $8/hr to do.

    1. Private sector? Med, legal, or the frightening OTHER?


      2. Nope, it’s a venture capital firm. I actually do a whole lot more than librarian stuff, but so is life.

        1. Are you involved with SLA at all?

          1. Can you grab your ass with both hands and whistle at the same time?

            1. Go away, sockpuppet.

          2. No, I don’t care much for the unions listed as associations. Right out of grad school I joined the ALA and wasted a couple of hundred bucks on dues with absolutely nothing in return. I was naive. I know better now.

            1. Too bad. If you were in SLA we’ve probably met.

              ALA sucks. Old women in cat sweaters desperately clutching free totebags.

              The professional organization are really only useful to the academics.

              1. Symbionese Liberation Army?

                1. Special Libraries Association

                  (And, yes… they think the name is stupid too. But everything they floated to replace it with has been more stupid.)

                  1. Here are a couple of rants I’ve had about libraries and librarians in the past. I still pretty much think that way.



    2. Are you Liberian? Could you be a Liberian libertarian librarian who liberally enjoys libations and loves Liberace?

    3. I’m glad someone in Library land is pro privatization. I feel like the only one in my masters program who thinks libraries could be better served by privatizing and de-unionizing. There’s no rational reason to force everyone to pay for a service that only a fraction of the population uses.

      The big thing that gets me is the racket the ALA is running. They force all libraries to demand their employees have masters degrees from ALA accredited schools but gloss over the fact that working in a library does not demand masters level skills of anyone (basically, does it require a masters to use google?). It devalues the entire profession (especially us private sector information professionals), and jacks up prices for tax payers.

      1. Don’t forget the ALA is a loud union too.

        1. “Don’t forget the ALA is a loud union too.”

          Yeah, they are using effort, hard work and commitment to improve their lot in this world. Exactly like any good ego-centric individual *should*.

      2. “There’s no rational reason to force everyone to pay for a service that only a fraction of the population uses.”

        Fraction uses, more than a fraction benefits.

        If you think you can just stop paying to programs you dislike and still have an objectively progressing country, think again – total self-interest and functioning organizations don’t work. No, corporations don’t work like that either.

        But I win wither way – if the US does as I say then it will survive. If it doesn’t, it will suffer. As long as people suffer for doing things with their countries I disapprove of, my lack of romanticism about what sacrifices are necessary for a country to function will be vindicated.

    4. Spencer:
      Librarians DON’T get paid $40,000 a year to do what someone at Barnes & Noble gets paid $8.00 an hour to do. Many people can shelve books, but that does not mean those same people can archive historic materials, train staff, build a well-rounded nonfiction collection, help customers with research, or teach customers how to use a computer.

      I am a librarian in a medium-sized public library in a city of about 35,000 in NJ. Full time staff work 35 hours a week. We have only 4 librarians, out of a staff of 24: the director, the Head of the Reference Department, the Literacy/Diversity Coordinator, and me. I wear three hats: Reference Librarian (available for assistance with computer issues and reference questiosn 25 hours a week), Volunteer Coordinator (Our volunteers’ hours generally come to between 2 and 3 FTE equivalent each month, but it takes a ton of training and supervision to produce that amount of work), and Local History Librarian (Local History Room is open three hours a week plus I order materials, supervise volunteers working on the library archives and researching genealogy and local history questions, and create finding aids for our special collections. Plus off-desk jobs: ordering materials, attending workshops or webinars, preparing for a monthly book discussion group, assigning call numbers to new books and donations, writing reports, and, occasionally, creating staff training manuals.

      Some of the commenters have found libraries where the staff seem not to be doing much work, but that’s certainly not true of my library. Nor of most that I have seen.

      1. “Some of the commenters have found libraries where the staff seem not to be doing much work, but that’s certainly not true of my library. Nor of most that I have seen.”

        Anecdotes are only meaningful if it allows the Christians (libertarians) to wallow in their regurgitated hatred of public employees.

  13. But, but, but, but…..libraries are SUCH a vital government service, that we CAN’T DARE outsource their staffing and operation.

    After all, they rank right up there with the fire department, cops and courts on the importance scale, so should be staffed by Govt employees just like these other vital services.

  14. my only concern is with a private corporation being more willing to selectively censor what titles are available to avoid any kind of tiff with a vocal special interest group. I think a private firm far more likely to fold under the mildest bleating than the govt. run variety.

    Perhaps a compromise of sorts can be reached with a public/private editorial review board.

    1. Mike,

      You are wrong. B&N will stock anything for sale. Libraries will stock anything, but are so afraid of lawsuits that they put them in special places.

      1. Sorry, I almost forgot, they also- especially smaller libraries- censor heavily through selection. They don’t even buy something, citing budget or community standard issues, and then they don’t have to censor any special group because they don’t have it. Anyone who wants it can ILL it if they’re willing to wait for months and have their name shipped around the country in conjunction with that book.

        1. Spencer:

          Interlibrary loan shouldn’t take months. Interlibrary loans within our library’s consortium generally take a few days to a week. It does take longer if we have to search statewide, but even a statewide request usually arrives within three weeks, except in the cases where we can’t find a library willing to lend the item.

          I realize that you are concerned about privacy, but giving your name to the staff at the Circulation Desk when you pick up the item is no more of an invasion of privacy than having the sales clerk at Barnes & Noble read your name off your credit card. Libraries do not keep a record of what each patron reads. In our library, if you want a book owned by another library in our consortium, you don’t even have to interact with a staff member since you can place your request yourself through the catalog.

          1. “I realize that you are concerned about privacy, but giving your name to the staff at the Circulation Desk when you pick up the item is no more of an invasion of privacy than having the sales clerk at Barnes & Noble read your name off your credit card.”

            That name will be used by Obama to force Spencer to drive a fruity car and kiss Gore’s feet.

    2. Perhaps a compromise of sorts can be reached with a public/private editorial review board.

      Is there no problem that can’t be resolved by a review board?

  15. My local library is the one featured in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. I like it very much. It is in the ghetto and people often get shot just a few blocks away, but not too often. It has big old desks that are really heavy and solid. I took a nap there and when I woke up my ipod was gone. I love the library.

    1. If you fall asleep in the ghetto, its your own fault.

  16. Like Nick, I too have long had a love-hate relationship with libraries. And now that hard-copy books are going the way of the dodo bird, I sort of hate to kick them while they are down. But, hell, I am a practicing ruthless peaceful anarchist after all.

    1. Interesting question – is there a copyright issue with libraries loaning out digital copies of books?

      What if they make the recipient promise to delete it when done with it?

      Not to get into this again, but IP is more trouble than its worth.

      1. These copies usually come with some type of DRM restriction. Many libraries are doing this,but with format specific media.

        1. My #1 library request would be that they develop some sort of open standard to facilitate the “borrowing” of books in electronic format. Whether you have a Kindle, a Nook or an iPad, you could reserve a book license and when it was free you could download it to your reader.

          1. Pope Jimbo:

            That’s a vendor issue. Amazon and the other companies that sell e-readers determine whether or not their reader can be used with e-books purchased from or subscribed to from other sources. Our library patrons have access to NetLibrary and ListenNJ. ListenNJ provides downloadable audiobooks. Both electronic books and downloadable audiobooks are available through NetLibrary. However, these books cannot be read on some of the proprietary e-book readers.

        2. I’m a member of the Redding,Calif library mentioned in the article, and they offer a “virtual branch” where you can download digital media to your computer.

          You can click on the titles of the audiobooks and e-books to read the digital rights. Surprisingly, some publishers give you permission to burn the file to compact disc. I haven’t used it, but it was surprising to learn that, by jove. I’ll be damned.

      2. Question 1: you mean aside from it being illegal “theft”?

        Question 2: HA!

  17. Maybe it’s time to send this library a marketing letter. There’s thousands of public librarians that are paying twice what they should for their library labels. SF, is Kentucky still paying top dollar for polyester labeling tape? That has to be the highest margin product in the history of library labels.

    1. Not sure. I’m far removed from the handling of books at this point. Is that the stuff you have to put on with a heat gun?

      1. Actually the pressure sensitive polyester eliminates the need for the heat gun. Which makes it a better deal than that heat seal crap.

    2. James, was that a sly dig? Technical Services / Binding is typically a place where they put the “lesser lights”, or people who are impossible to work with (or people who piss off the Director, but haven’t enough to get fired).

      1. That sounds like my kind of people! Why aren’t they all ordering from me?

        1. You’re obviously not marketing correctly. Try leaving comments on YouTube videos or Yahoo Personal ads that don’t have photos.

  18. Nick should be proud of his Miami University. They’ve saved tons of money getting their labels from us. Miami was my first million label order. Man, printing and fanfolding 1,000 stacks of yellow spine labels is a bitch.

  19. Libraries are doorways to participation in government for all the people, regardless of economic status, education, culture or country of origin. Funding for libraries is no middle/upper-class-scam but supports the very basis for democracy! Libraries provide essential services and access to information and computer resources that help build communities and provide an indispensible bridge to govenment services at all levels. How can someone who worked as a Page at Middletown Public Library not know this?

    1. Since you are so fond of libraries, I suggest you look up the phrase “special pleading.”

    2. Well said, Ingrid!

  20. Ironically, about half of the libraries built from 1883-1919 were built with private steel money.

  21. Some of the original public libraries were endowed by Andrew Carnegie, when he officially realized that he had much more money than he needed, so he may as well use the money to help others (delegating the spending to what evolved into a class of foundation executives may not have been the wisest long-term decision, but in the meantime, Carnegie money went to some bona-fide charitable causes such as, yes, libraries to which the poor had access).

    1. Sorry, Baked Penguin beat me to it.

  22. “Libraries, like museums…are disproportianately used by wealthier citizens who fund them by taxing the lower orders, all in the name of civilizing the brutes. It’s a great scam.”


    Museums, sure. I can see the argument there, but libraries – no damn way. If Mr. Gillespie really thinks that wealthier citizens are our primary library patrons he has clearly never been in one, especially not lately.

    Oh wait! He admits as much from the start, and I’m disinclined to empathize with the opinions of someone who worked as a part-time page more than three decades ago.

    I do think that library professionals, and I am one, are often way too quick to demonize privatization outright. I’m as skeptical as anyone else, though I tend to think that there is little a private company would do that a strong-willed government could also do to change the way a library operates. But to suggest that libraries do not primarily meet the needs of underserrved groups is downright ridiculous. The library is a portal to job search resources, the internet, adult literacy programs, ESL classes and a host of other resources and services that are definitely not subject to heavy use by the wealthy elite as Mr. Gillespie apparently thinks.

    So, should Mr. Gillespie take a moment to reflect on the computer/internet access that enables him to write and post his faux-populist garbage he may be well-served to unplug for awhile and still try to be productive. You know, head to the library and use the computers in hour-long increments. Maybe if he reacquaints himself with the modern public library he’ll have less to complain about.

    But I’m not holding my breath.

    1. faux-populist?

      Are you a fucking idiot? No libertarian is anywhere near any kind of populist.

      1. “No libertarian is anywhere near any kind of populist.”

        Yeah, telling the white self-compassionate masses that taxes they agree to pay (by staying in a country they KNOW will tax them) is “theft” or that ObamaCare (lol, everyone using that term are lesser people) is a sort of perverted slight against THEIR special country are really not using propaganda or pulling the heart-strings! Not to mention those thousands of climate scientists colluding and conspiring on a historically unprecedented level JUST to destroy America and all the upstanding, soil-tilling citizens of the US of A!

        Libertarian messaging and notions of today are totally straight, honest, mature and upstanding. No populism anywhere nosiree.

        You are a populist robc. And a sort of Christian. Just like Christianity is about the peasants not killing the kings lest they get denied their afterlife paradise, libertarianism is about letting profit-searching Galtians (predators) do whatever they want and gather all the power they want – and if you try to attack them back then they will go to Galt’s Gulch and the shining city on the hill (that is, heaven) will be closed to you forever, disrespectful peasant!

    2. +1 Faux-populist garbage, preaching to the choir and cheap leather jackets are Nicky’s SOP.

  23. I second the RZA: libraries (with the exception of university libraries) are definitely not disproportionately used by the rich and middle-income. Quite the contrary: go into a library in any medium-sized to large city, and see what types of people you will see: on the one hand, young people of varying economic classes; on the other hand, older poor people, coming to get help with job applications, use computer services, get reference help, take some of the classes that libraries offer, etc. This article is a hit job with no real facts bolstering it.

    1. The jist of the article is about privatizing the libraries in order to save a boat load of money. The middle/upper class line was really just a throw away. And he may actually be correct, at least about the MTown library. I ride my bike by there every day.

      1. It’s not about privatizing libraries- it’s about the local governments saving money by hiring out instead of directly employing. A much better solution would be membership libraries- or to actually privatize libraries.

    2. And, in my experience, homeless people surfing the web for porn.

      My experience from observing people in libraries, not my experience as a homeless internet porn user.

  24. I also worked in a public library when I was a teen, and again briefly after college, and I can say without reservation that the typical library patron is a well-to-do, middle-aged or older woman who is too damn cheap to buy her own Judith Krantz novels. Most of the rest are people who would rather check out a DVD free of charge than pay $15/month for a Netflix account, parents who think the library is free daycare for their brats, and cranks doing their own legal “research” for their lawsuit against their neighbor who is bombarding their house with mind-control rays.

    1. Franklin:

      Things have changed since you worked in libraries. Alex is right. Sure, there are plenty of middle class people in libraries (although the middle class is shrinking), but you will also find people who cannot afford internet access using public computers, parents of all economic backgrounds sharing the library experience with their kids, immigrants coming to free English classes at the library, and people of all backgrounds getting help in applying online for a job or learning how to use computers. And that’s just for starters!

      Just because you see a “middle-aged or older woman” checking out a Judith Krantz novel, don’t assume she is cheap. Maybe she is retired and living on a fixed income. Maybe the guy checking out a DVD can’t afford $15 a month for a Netflix account. Yes, libraries do get some “cranks” but so does every other public place, especially those that are warm and have a policy of welcoming everyone who doesn’t interfere with other people’s enjoyment of the place. And I agree that parents seeking free daycare is a problem that public libraries face. But I’m an optimist; maybe the parent can acquire new skills by learning how to use computers, practice for the GED using LearnATest at the library, use the library’s computers to apply for and get a better paying job — and end up making enough money to pay for daycare.

  25. My county (Hennepin aka Minneapolis) is on a spending binge and is upgrading local libraries everywhere.

    My local county just got done building its new facility. It is gorgeous and has a fancy new automated book return system. Problem is that even though the book return is completely automated, the library still has the same number of employees. Now they “have more time to help our patrons.”

    Also the libraries are all running ads and have posters up touting the fact that their increased hours of operation are all thanks to receiving a portion of the Twins ballpark tax. Great. I guess that tax is never going to go away.

  26. Gillespie missed a chance to include photos of the archetypical hot librarian, Shriley Jones’ Marian Paroo from the Music Man movie of 1962. I correct his oversight here:…..2-pic.html

  27. And there’s always Rachael Weisz from the latter-day Mummy movies, for those of you who landed on the planet a bit too late to fall for the charms of Shirley Jones.

  28. I saw a similar report on this event yesterday.
    It caused me to pause and think about these points:
    —There have always been issues with taxes in society. Even going as far back as Richard II of England.
    Later the people won the right to petition government about their views on matters.
    All around the US of late I read report after report after report on ways the public cried out and voiced their support for Libraries.
    -Large and small groups of people get pleasure in some way at libraries.
    Especially in upsetting times – Times when things are hard everywhere.
    Why do we want to remove the right to small joys in life.
    Let us not be mean spirited. Let us make life easier for as many as we can and for the next generation.
    -My Dad once gave me good advice He said everything in moderation.
    Libraries and other Municipal positions are a small part of the tax burdens. A minor price to read freely.
    -Libraries are not a business. We are a community connection to the world. Libraries are a variety of things for a variety of people.
    Most have no voice on their own. We are there for people. And people who are able speak up for us.
    -We are often a friend at times when people could use a guiding hand.
    -Even in the business world there is a growing movement to set aside 5-7 percent of operating expenses for charitable causes.
    -Everyone wants their tax burden to lighten. I recognize that.
    I also know government requires money to provide services.
    The truth of the matter is that some are better able to pay the price than others.
    These Good citizens of this country they should and do pay more then their share for the good of society.
    Libraries do matter. Librarians try to be sure you have what you need when you could use it most.
    we give advantages to all no matter your station no matter your destination.

    Beatrice Priestly

  29. For me the biggest question is: Why the hell is the jacket living in Oxford Ohio?! Is taht where his kids live?

  30. Do the privatization proponents think that the people who VOLUNTEER at the library will continue to do so if it is a for profit enterprise?

    Do they think that people will continue donate books and/or money to a for profit library?

    Do these people have clue one how libraries are actually run?
    . . . comment on Neo-Liberal Class War

  31. Sorry Nick but the majority of the people I see using the libraries that I go into are not rich or upper middle class. Most are of the lower and middle economic classes. Most use more resources in one month than they pay in taxes over the year.
    I doubt very seriously that you actually spent any time working in a library since a library would quickly fall apart if it was neglected in the manner you suggest.
    As far as the benefits, librarians get paid about the same or less than teachers and they work all year round. Every American tends to work for a pension so what is it that makes a librarian’s desire for a pension so evil. And hell please put a Starbucks in the library and use some of the profits to buy more books and equipment. I, as most librarians, would love to have a decent cup of coffee while using the library.
    Librarians do most of their duties out of view of the public. When they are at a public service desk they are there to help people not to be processing a book order. You probably think librarians sit around reading all day.
    Also, I doubt the slightly above minimum wage private sector library employee(1st year college student) would have the patience to deal with a lot of the problems librarians deal with on a daily basis. The library is not a career for that person since he or she will be more interested in studying for the next chemistry test than helping a kid search for a book on the catalog. Yes, for all the computer savvy that today’s youth have they generally are not capable of looking up a book title for themselves.
    Your article was a joke.

  32. The issue is not the same library service for the a lesser price tag. Residents in Santa Clarita are up in arms because the city council all but ignored input from the community, and voted to accept the bid from LSSI without securing or even evaluating those library services which are important to the community.

    This issue is not about the same services for a lesser price. This issue is about our city council acting on their own behalf.

    My personal concerns center around free access to outside library collections of books, audio-visual items and other resources. This free access is not secured under the city council/LSSI plan. (2) (3)

    Currently, my inter-library loans are only limited by the 50 book capacity of my library card. This generous supply of books from other libraries is not secured under the city council/LSSI plan. (2) (3)

    I do not pay any fees for the privilege of borrowing books from outside libraries. Free inter-library loans are not secured under the city council/LSSI plan. (2) (3)

    I depend on the three-week check out period, with 2 renewals, equaling a total of 12 weeks of free materials use, even for inter-library loans. This check-out and renewal period is not secured under the city council/LSSI plan. (2) (3)

    My inter-library loan requests are generally fulfilled within a week, meeting my children’s attention on a given subject. This quick delivery system is not secured under the city council/LSSI plan. (4)

    The County library system offers an integrated computer system to search all libraries for available information, including a pictorial search page specifically for children, and offers automated due date notifications. This efficient computer system is not secured under the city council/LSSI plan. (5)

    I make heavy use of out-of-print, rare and classic books, which are nearly always available within the County library system. Such a broad and deep selection of books is not secured under the city council/LSSI plan, nor can out-of-print books be purchased and added to a new system. (2) (3)

    Other library systems under LSSI pay, per item, for inter-library loans. Other library systems under LSSI have a 3-book limit and one-week check out period on interlibrary loans. Fulfilling interlibrary loans in other systems run by LSSI is dictated and governed by the lending library’s rules and willingness to fulfill requests. (2) (3)

    Darren Hern?ndez and Laurie Ender are both on record favoring the purchase of dozens of copies of current best sellers for the LSSI run libraries. I do not want bookshelves over-stocked with books such as _Twilight_ at the expense of less popular, but better written, books. With materials purchases made under political and untrained over-sight, I fear the loss of lesser-known, controversial, or unpopular books. (2) (3) (6)

    The Santa Clarita City Council has flagrantly and aggressively ignored these public concerns, pushing through an agenda that does not have wide-spread public support. In the end, we will pay more, get less, and the beneficiaries will be higher management.


    1. Marsha McLean, closing comments at Santa Clarita City Council meeting, 9/28/10


  33. Here are 2 more of my footnotes:



  34. and here are the last of my footnotes:

    5. phone call to Moorpark City Library (805-517-6370), 9/29/10: I asked how to search on-line for a book not available within the Moorpark system, was directed to the Ventura County library website, and was told that I would need a Ventura County library card to request book. I then asked if I could conduct an interlibrary loan through the Moorpark library, and was told that I would have to come in and fill out the paperwork, which would then be submitted as an inquiry for book availability from another library.


  35. “cushy, air-conditioned pleasure-dome?”public sector workers who make more than you can retire younger and in Cadillac style?” What the fuck kind of fantasy world do you live in? I recently got my MLIS and have applied for a couple of jobs in libraries that would cut my salary by $12,000-$15,000. And I don’t make all that much. Is that what libertarians really think? That public sector employees make cushy 6 figure salaries and retire to Hawaii at 55? Wow. And maybe your suburban libraries are frequented by the well to do, but try looking into one in a poorer urban setting.

    1. “Is that what libertarians really think? That public sector employees make cushy 6 figure salaries and retire to Hawaii at 55?”

      Christians believe in the garden of Eden and libertarians think public employees don’t deserve to fight for their interests in a world with scarce resources, like the corporations.

      It’s not that they think public employees have it too good – after all, using unions to better your situation via politics is *exactly* what the libertarians cheer when corporations do it. If public employees manage to get cushy situations (some of them do) then they worked for that and the libertarians should applaud that.

      The problem is that happy public employees is a sort of aesthetic injury to libertarians. They think anything public and tax-funded is *sinful*, so the idea of hurting public employees is automatically attractive, in the same sense that rubes and useless people in undeveloped cultures like to spit on effigies representing Satan. It’s not that comfy public employees are bad, it’s the fact that their existence is tied to something *collective* (i.e. fascist).

  36. You DO realize that you kind of shot yourself in the foot when you said the 2/3 of the people in your city WANTED to have the library be publicaly supported? Or is Democracy off the table in your view? Public libraries serve a lot more than middle class women who don’t want to buy books. They service the guy who lost his job and isn’t computer literate, by helping him file his unemployment insurance claim because in Ohio WHERE YOU LIVE that is all done electronically now.

    Libraries have children’s hours, where kids can learn about books and storytelling, even if their parent’s can’t afford to buy a lot of books. They have free movie nights, where families that have been hit by the recession can go together and see a family film.

    As to your town saying it hadn’t asked for a levy in 144 years, it probably hasn’t. For years the State of Ohio gave tax dollars to the public libraries across the state. For many libraries that was their only form of funding and they lived on it. Now the state is facing a deficit and the funding got cut by between 33% and 50%. So your town had to try to make up the difference by asking its residents to pay for local services. And lo and behold they voted to keep the library going.

    The Founding Fathers objected to taxation WITHOUT representation, not to taxation itself. The vote of YOUR neighbors was taxation by direct input of the people who voted. So suck it up and pay the extra few bucks per year that it will cost you.

  37. Nick, Nick, Nick. Get some perspective. Life is too short to rant about lazy librarians. Seriously. Open a nice bottle of wine (white or red, it doesn’t matter – right now, I’m enjoying a nice, chilled white wine from the Loire), recognize how trivial the expense of having the fruits of civilization at your fingertips is in the scheme of things, and hit the delete key. People who rant about lazy librarians just, well, sound like people who rant about lazy librarians (i.e., like jerks).

  38. “They are disproportianately used by wealthier citizens who fund them by taxing the lower orders, all in the name of civilizing the brutes. It’s a great scam.”

    You clearly don’t visit a number of branches in the Denver Public Library system.

    I’m going to venture the rather extensive Spanish language collections some branches hold are not for the wealthy elite.

    I did find your comparison of true Marxists and Libertarians interesting though. You both have something in common: you devoutly embrace a theory that sounds good in theory but works like crap in practice.

    We call those bad theories. 🙁

  39. Yeah, Clarence Thomas was really rich when he spent all that time in the library. What a ridiculous argument

    When you get your anarchist Thunderdome, Nick, I hope no one wants anything you own, ’cause you might find that in the name of liberty, the poor people you don’t give a shit about might decide your noblesse oblige is not enough and take what’s yours.

  40. Saying “my opinion has validity because I worked as a library page thirty years ago” is like saying “my opinion has validity because I used to drive a horse and buggy.” It’s a whole different ball game now.

    It also indicates how much libertarianism has changed its focus from the rights of the individual to the valorization of corporations. Nowhere in this piece is it mentioned that librarians have been one of the groups most staunchly opposed to the Patriot Act and the authorization it grants to conduct searches of library records without even telling the patron it was conducted. Given the responses of the big telecoms to similar requests, this would likely be one of the areas in which liberties would be eroded quickly with private firms governing libraries.

    There was a time when people like Nick would have cared about that.

  41. Wow, what a great article. We should privatize policy, fire and all streets. What a great opportunity for Councilmen to get kickbacks.

  42. Wow, what a great article. We should privatize policy, fire and all streets. What a great opportunity for Councilmen to get kickbacks.

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