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For-profit libraries raise concerns

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High Five
Monday, September 27, 2010
A Maryland company that has taken over 15 libraries in ailing Jackson County is now adding the libraries of San Clarita, Calif. to its roster.

Library Systems & Services is in the business of rescuing public libraries in impoverished cities, but San Clarita is relatively healthy.
A $4 million deal to run the three libraries here is a chance for the company to demonstrate that a dose of private management can be good for communities, whatever their financial situation. But in an era when outsourcing is most often an act of budget desperation — with janitors, police forces and even entire city halls farmed out in one town or another — the contract in Santa Clarita has touched a deep nerve and begun a round of second-guessing.

Can a municipal service like a library hold so central a place that it should be entrusted to a profit-driven contractor only as a last resort — and maybe not even then?

Read more at the New York Times.

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