Does anyone remember Kern County’s push in 2016 to privatize our library system? They had talked with Library Systems and Services, Inc. (LSSI), which claimed improvements in staffing and services could be made and money saved for Kern under their business plan.
But community support for keeping the libraries “public” swelled, and Measure F was put on the 2016 ballot to fund libraries with a one-eighth-cent sales tax. That valiant effort received over 50 percent support but failed to garner the required 66.6 percent vote needed to impose a tax.
To the 43,000-plus Kern citizens who voted for Measure F funding of our libraries: You may find some satisfaction with a vote last week in Santa Clarita. The city voted unanimously to take back control of their library from that same private corporation, LSSI, citing a decline in performance. Santa Clarita estimates they will see a first-year savings of $393,931.
Kern’s much-larger library system still needs better and consistent funding to thrive across our diverse county. Healthy libraries provide a window to view our past, stimulate our future and help educate all ages. As Kern grows, so must our libraries.
— Ann Gallon, Bakersfield