Should We Worry About Outsourced Libraries?

I say no. Most of the hand-wringing is over the terms “outsourced” and “private,” which are boogeymen for many people. The rest of the tooth-gnashing is from unions afraid they will lose their sweet gigs.

Let’s think about this for a moment … No one bats an eye or gets concerned when:
- a business “outsources” its need for electricity, uniforms, water, pens, Windows 7, etc.
- a household “outsources” its need for PCs, shirts, sneakers, TVs, etc.
- an individual “outsources” his need for iPads, dress shirts, barbers, etc.

A parting thought. A corporation is really outsourcing it’s need for labor, even when its staff are direct employees and not contractors. The stockholders, the true owners of the corporation, have hired the management staff of the business to act as their agents, they in turn employ people, labor, to fulfill the equity holders’ wishes. The stockholders have thus outsourced their labor needs.

Every business that is not 100% full vertically integrated, outsources its need for almost everything. Kodak makes (okay, made) film. To do this it required silver. It did not buy mines, make (not buy, that would be outsourcing) it’s own mining equipment from scratch, and mine silver. No, it bought silver on the open market. There is nothing evil, insidious, or problematic about outsourcing.

As L.S.S.I. Takes Over Libraries, Patrons Can’t Keep Quiet – NYTimes.com: “SANTA CLARITA, Calif. — A private company in Maryland has taken over public libraries in ailing cities in California, Oregon, Tennessee and Texas, growing into the country’s fifth-largest library system. Now the company, Library Systems & Services, has been hired for the first time to run a system in a relatively healthy city, setting off an intense and often acrimonious debate about the role of outsourcing in a ravaged economy.”