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Public libraries should stay public

Posted: July 25, 2010 10:33 p.m.
Updated: July 26, 2010 4:55 a.m.

On Aug. 24, the Santa Clarita City Council is going to try to pull a fast one on Santa Clarita residents. They are waging a big PR campaign to convince us to withdraw from the Los Angeles County Library system, that gives us access to more than
7 million books because we supposedly “pay more than we get” from library services.

They also will try to justify privatizing our local libraries to be run by a for-profit company which will “do it cheaper.”

Well, you get what you pay for. Minimum wage pseudo-librarians, limited selection and probably a fee-per-book levy to tap into the Los Angeles Public Library system.

Taking it further, just suppose this private for-profit, we-can-do-it-cheaper company has a political bias. A religious bias? Will we see censoring of the books available? Will we see our privacy, which allows us to read what we want, violated?

Our privacy is a protected civil right that does not allow the government (or some large corporation) access to what we read.

Remember, our public employee librarians courageously protected this right when the Patriot Act proponents tried to snoop into our library accounts.

Some things should never be privatized. Public libraries are one of the treasures of living in a country that used to be for “we the people,” not for the for-profit pigs feeding at the public trough.

You will still pay taxes for the library, but instead of them going for incredible acquisitions and decent pay for professional staff, they will go into some corporate fat cat’s pocket because he promises to reduce costs. As always, the right-wing corporate motto is “privatize the profits and socialize the costs.”

When we hold things in common, we pool our resources through the dues we pay for membership in this country club called America (taxes, fees, levies, etc). We get a big bang for our buck.

In this case, the choice of 7 million books and countless other media such as DVDs, books on tape, etc., containing an incredible array of opinions, facts, subjects and interests, which is a priceless treasure. Privatizing and cheapening libraries will deal a serious blow to our democracy.

Rich, poor, brown, black, white, old, young, conservative, liberal — we all need access to information that allows us to make informed choices. Democracy demands well-informed citizens.

Please do not let the City Council do this to us. Speak out and attend the Aug. 24 City Council meeting.



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