Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Privatization of Public Libraries

The American Library Association (ALA) has recently announced a new document intended to assist public libraries in ensuring that management control remains in the public domain. While efforts to privatize federal libraries have been underway since the 1980s, the ALA observes that only in recent years have pressures mounted to privatize city and county public libraries. In response to such forces, the ALA Council in 2001 adopted the following policy statement:
ALA affirms that publicly funded libraries should remain directly accountable to the
public they serve. Therefore, the ALA opposes the shifting of policymaking and management oversight of library services for the public to the private for-profit sector.
Among the many issues involved in privatization, the ALA enumerates several key areas of concern:
--Quality of library services
--Loss of local community control
--Loss of control of tax dollars
--Intellectual freedom
--Collection development
--Loss of community involvement with foundations, nonprofits, and Friends groups
Additional information on the privatization and outsourcing of public libraries can be found on the ALA web site. Keeping Public Libraries Public (June 2011) is also available online.

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