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Old 08-28-17, 09:49 PM   #1
azteclady
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On the privatization of public library systems

I was alerted by a friend who happens to be a librarian, about something many of us are unaware of: the fact that many small, struggling libraries have been privatized. Ostensibly, to save tax payers money. The reality...not so much. (LINK)
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Old 08-29-17, 12:00 AM   #2
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Re: On the privatization of public library systems

It stinks that it's happening but not a shock. If they can privatize prisons they can privatize just about anything.

What's troubling is that they were trying to keep the change on the down low from the community. Fudging numbers and assuming the same level of volunteers was super sketchy, but typical.

In the end it's up to each community to decide what to do. But libraries are becoming less needed and dedicating so much space to physical books gets more and more impractical. So things aren't going to get better.
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Old 08-29-17, 02:53 AM   #3
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Re: On the privatization of public library systems

I am friends with a number of librarians. Most libraries these days*** offer digital lending, in a variety of ways, from audiobooks in CDS to streaming service; also DVDs, BluRays, and also streaming of movies and music.

Also, in many areas, libraries provide community spaces that are not found elsewhere, as well as resources--such as wifi and help and training for people looking for jobs--that are also not easily available elsewhere.

Libraries are much more than books, and they are needed most by those who don't have the privilege of accessing these service from home. Those are the people public libraries have always served, and those are the first people who lose access when libraries go public.


*** Should note: this is only possible in areas where reliable internet access is a thing that happens. Vast stretches of this country, including fairly well populated areas, still don't have reliable cable, let alone broadband, internet access.
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Old 08-30-17, 12:17 AM   #4
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Re: On the privatization of public library systems

I'll be honest though and say that every college library I've been to has been MUCH better run than the city ones. City employees tend to have a reputation, at least in my city.

And so one area where I'd expect better service is a private library over a city/town run one. Not all the time, but in general.

I remember I once had to run to the public library to copy something. They close at 5:30 and at like 5:25 I went to make copies . They clearly wanted to be out of there at 5:30 exactly and groaned that I wouldn't let them turn the copier off BEFORE they closed.

Whenever I needed a quiet place to get stuff done, I always went to the college libraries to be honest.
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Old 08-30-17, 07:00 PM   #5
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Re: On the privatization of public library systems

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Old 10-25-17, 12:08 AM   #6
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Re: On the privatization of public library systems

I'm transcribing here this short twitter thread by a friend of mine who is a librarian in the public library system in California (emphasis in italics mine, CAPS in original thread):
So apparently a New York Observer columnist stepped in with a "nobody uses libraries anymore" tweet. My experience:

People are still using libraries, but they are using them DIFFERENTLY than they were even a recently as 5 years ago. My background is heavy in collection development and getting books/materials out to libraries. What I've noticed in the past couple of years:
  • circulation for physical materials continues to go down. I've seen as much as 20% over a 3 year period.
  • meanwhile, door counts are up, internet + WiFi usage is up, circulation is INSANITY, programming attendance is up.
For many US residents, the library is the ONLY access to broadband they have. Also, many libraries offer free or affordable meeting room space. Do people still go to libraries to sit quietly while poring over reference books? Sure. But libraries have evolved with times.

People want to community spaces, with access to WiFi and broadband, access to community information (libraries are BIG on parnerships), and yes, books. It's just that we have so many more options on how to consume books these days. It's format heaven, yo!

So just because you haven't been in a library for 20 years doesn't mean they are not still relevant.

Disconnect is that people don't realize everything libraries have to offer. Libraries tend to suck at marketing. We have to do better. Also, if your library is the Dead Zone, ask yourself why. Hours of operation? Not offering the service the community needs/wants? Etc.

And I'll end on the reminder that library market is not identical to retail. I can't express enough how INSANE e-book/audio circulation is.
Because of the conversations among other librarians that I've seen recently on twitter, I believe the part I've emphasized with italics is meant to be addressing other librarians, but the rest of the thread is general information I've seen put forward by other librarians, in New York, in Oregon, in Washington, etc.
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Old 10-25-17, 03:28 AM   #7
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Re: On the privatization of public library systems

For those among us not afraid of Twitter and adult language, this 'twitter moment' on this particular instance of "I don't use libraries, so they are obviously a waste of *MY* tax money," is worth the read.


(For those not familiar with the platform: you don't have to have a twitter account to read these)
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