American Library Association responds to New York Times article on privatization

For Immediate Release
Mon, 10/04/2010

Contact:

CHICAGO –   On Sept. 26, 2010, The New York Times published an article entitled “Anger as a Private Company Takes Over Libraries.” The article focused on Library Systems & Services, also known as L.S.S.I., a private company based in Maryland. The L.S.S.I. has “taken over public libraries in ailing cities…,” but “has been hired for the first time to run a system in a relatively healthy city, setting off an intense and often acrimonious debate about the role of outsourcing in a ravaged eonomy.”
 
The L.S.S.I. runs 14 library systems and operates 63 locations, making it the fifth largest library system in the country.
 
L.S.S.I. CEO Frank Pezzanite was quoted in the article as saying: “A lot of libraries are atrocious. 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.”
 
American Library Association (ALA) President Roberta Stevens and the ALA Public Information Office were quick to respond to Pezzanite’s comments.  A letter to the editor  was submitted to The New York Times that discussed the value of library staff and the ALA’s opposition to shifting policy making and management oversight of library services from the public to the private sector.
 
The New York Times published ALA’s response in the newspaper’s print and Web editions. More than 950,000 newspaper subscribers and 19.2 million unique Web visitors had access to ALA’s response.
 
For more information on the ALA’s position on privatization of library service please visit http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/oif/iftoolkits/outsourcing/alapolicy.cfm .
-30-