July 24, 2006

Second Case Study "Privatizing a Public Library" - COSLA Leadership Institute

The Facts:

public library is in an area where the population is growing
little support for the library
30 year library directo who has not solved all the problems
library funding has not improved
board issues RFP on managing the library
state law is that library functions cannot be privatized and still be called a public library
legality of board is questioned

The Library Director:

doesn't seem to be a bad guy or bad director
is aware of the need of library funding
was successful in getting renovation funds
got $2 mil in automation grant funding
personnel budget has increased
doesn't get along with the mayor and other county officials
resignation is sibmitted to the board but it's not accepted

Is the director really doing a good job?

The Library Board:

the board paid a lot of money for someone else to do their strategic planning
have they followed procurement codes?
did the board come up with the RFP solution on their own or did this come from the consultant?
there are issues about how the board operates and are their concerns really for the library?

The State Library:

see what position they took in a similar situation
is there a precedent that we have to follow
should they interfere in the process of an RFP?
what is the true definition of administering the library?
no public comment was offered on the RFP - if the process was not legal, how should the state library act?
ID a neutral party to facilitate and help develop a solution


What is the policy and intent of the State Library?
Does the State Library want to help the population?

The central question is:

How private does a library have to be before it's not public anymore?

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