Yes I said it. I know that privatization is a bad word but the recent library cuts puts the subject on the table. We are fortunate in this community to have three public libraries within a five mile radius. The libraries being Whitney Young, Greater Grand Crossing/Gary Comer, and Avalon. The Greater Grand Crossing and Avalon branches are both less than two years old. The Whitney Young branch would have been new but the construction process has been bogged down with EPA problems and community dissatisfaction with the model presented.
The branch libraries in our community are used for more than book repositories but as community information centers and in the case of Whitney Young a baby sitting service. The two newer branches have attempted to bring programs and resources to the community but because of the hours reductions the attendance at these events is woefully low. Most residents would have to take time off work to attend as the libraries close as most are getting off work. The circulation numbers at all three branches are low because of a lack of popular materials and the lack of technology send patrons to the regional, colleges or main library. Lastly, which is the most disappointing is the partnership the Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Public Library is basically non-existent in our community.
So why not look at privatizing the library system? It would help the system make good on the promise, of building stand alone branches, it made to a number of communities. Also, they could restore extended hours to those facilities that justify the need and bring in modern technology (i.e computers, e-readers, etc). When we look at most college bookstores in our city. most carry as many books as our branch libraries. Would it be a strech for them to start a new division to run libraries? Also, creating TIF districts for libraries?
So do we continue to wait on politicians to make this decision and give the contract to politically connected, incompetent organizations(remember the parking meters?) or should residents step up and decide the fate of their branch libraries?