Home > Uncategorized > Privatizers Look to Take Over Libraries… and Somewhere Andrew Carnegie Weeps…

Privatizers Look to Take Over Libraries… and Somewhere Andrew Carnegie Weeps…

There was a time when billionaires and affluent citizens saw the value of public libraries… but in today’s era where everything— including knowledge— can be monetized we are witnessing the privatization of public libraries. Medium blogger Jeremy Mohler reports on the creation of a chain of libraries that is spreading across the country like kudzu.

With 82 branches across six states, Library Systems & Services (LS&S) is the country’s third-largest library system, smaller than only Chicago and New York City. It pitches itself to towns and counties by making many of the same arguments in the op-ed. That libraries aren’t “innovative” enough without the corporation’s management and “social entrepreneurship.” That it can help libraries become a “third place” between work and home — as if they weren’t already just that for many poor and working people.

Like Amazon, LS&S slashes employee pay and benefits to turn a profit while shrouding its dealings in secrecy. Last year, it was hit with nearly $70,000 in penalties for wage and hour violations. In 2016, an audit of one of its libraries in Oregon revealed that 28 percent of the public money paid to the corporation was filed under the ominous category of “other,” unknown even to public officials.

In an era of “fake news” and pubic disengagement, this is just what our country does NOT need. Somewhere, Andrew Carnegie and the thousands of donors and taxpayers who value their public libraries are weeping.

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