New 60-Second Survey: Privatization of Public Libraries

Recently, the New York Times published an article about the privatization of public libraries This article described the trend in some communities to turn over the management of public libraries to private organizations. In response to this article, library staff engaged in spirited online discussions about whether libraries should be privatized. Taking notice of these discussions, Library Research Service at the Colorado State Library has launched a new 60-Second Survey to get your opinions about privatization. Do you think privatization is a good option for libraries? How would it impact library collections, services, staff, and patrons? You tell us. Click on this link to take the 60-Second Survey on the Privatization of Public Libraries: Please pass this on to your colleagues—locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.


Whenever the private sector enters the equation profit not service becomes the catch word. Currently there are dedicated librarians and other library staff who work to bring quality service to the public. The major concern currently for libraries is funding. If we turn to privatization, I foresee that libraries in poorer neighborhoods will become non-existent as this sector will not have the funding or resources needed. I do not see corporations who are currently banning unions and working toward less benefits and lower salaries engaging in quality service. I see them using this service as yet another way to make money. Already database companies provide services for libraries at exorbitant costs. Would privatization include fees for patrons? Maybe not initially, but eventually they will. Libraries were instituted to provide equal access for all. They are the ultimate expression of a free society. Without public libraries citizens do not have equal access to information. This would undermine the concept of democracy. Public libraries with equal access for all are a critical component to the success of a democratic nation.

My fear is that school libraries or public libraries run by for-profit companies would lack the range of viewpoints available currently to students at all levels. Additionally, the fiction collections might be "optimized" so that only the most commonly read books were purchased, leading to a surfeit of vampire/zombie/manga titles and a paucity of classics and stand-alone titles. Libraries need to be wide-open spaces so that the readers of today can be the explorers, discoverers, and leaders of the next frontier.

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