Privatize and outsource the library?!

By Bev Anslow of Gladstone, Oregon. Bev is a retired real estate investment counselor and writer, who now works as a community activist and consumer advocate.

One can’t help but notice the gradual diminishing sense of community as local services are outsourced to distant corporations. This is especially noticeable in small cities like Gladstone. First it was the local drugstore that moved into Safeway. Then it was the local hardware and electric stores that disappeared followed by the bakery and a nearby stationery store

Last year, I heard a human voice on the phone when I called my doctor. Last week, it was a computer that took my message. My doctor retired last year and a corporation took over his office.

I don’t usually attend city council meetings, but last month when I noticed a flyer on the front door reminding me about the meeting. I went. There was standing room only. I was shocked when, in spite of overwhelming opposition, Gladstone City Council voted to meet with company representatives to discuss outsourcing its public library.

“A library is the heart and the soul of a community” one resident cried out. This was followed by passionate comments from others who recalled warm memories of librarians and the library. One comment heard in the hallway was, “How dare the city council even entertain the notion of handing over the city’s most used, most popular public service to a private for-profit company on the East Coast?”

If council members had done their homework they would know that outsourcing management of their public library would cost them far more than just money.

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