In These Times on library privatization

There’s a good little article in the new issue of In These Times on privatization of core library services and functions: “Public Libraries for Profit,” by Akito Yoshikane. Though it’s brief it hits the essential points about privatization and libraries: private, for-profit businesses lack accountability to communities and lack the commitment to intellectual freedom and support for democracy that people associate with public libraries. Yoshikane is exactly right to point out that even if you’re opposed to knee jerk reactions against privatization, privatization of a library’s janitorial services or photocopying is a different matter from privatization of cataloging or management. Public entities, especially small, community based ones like public libraries, are shaped by their accountability to their communities, through boards of trustees which hold public meetings. For-profit companies, in addition to lacking that kind of accountability, have a different reason for being in the first place. Kudos to In These Times for taking up this issue. It is nice to see our issues raised in the public sphere and not limited to our own professional groups.

Thanks to Jonathan Betz-Zall for sharing this link with the ALA Council list.