Public libraries in Camarillo, Santa Clarita and Ventura have all been targeted for a takeover by Library Systems and Services (LSSI), a private company headquartered in Maryland and majority-owned by the private equity firm Islington Capital Partners. Privatizing public libraries means libraries will be de-professionalized and residents will pay more and receive less, while LSSI makes a profit for its investors and shareholders. Instead of listening to residents, the City Council created a ‘Citizen’s Advisory Committee’ to review Santa Clarita’s library system and its needs and make recommendations for moving forward with LSSI. The committee had no decision-making power, and was widely criticized as a thinly veiled attempt to silence critics.
Instead the SEIU is taking matters into their own hands with the “Privatization Beast” site, fighting to help keep public library services public. People from all over are signing the petition to help save the Santa Clarita public library system. Comedian Sarah Haskins even teamed up with the SEIU to make a claymation video showing the Privatization Beast in action. There’s hope that with enough support, the libraries can be saved.