Escondido considers outsourcing library services to save money

Posted at 9:59 PM, Jul 31, 2017

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) -- The city of Escondido is considering a plan to outsource library services to a private company in hopes to save money. The plan has some residents worried that the quality of services will suffer.

"It's like our second home, really. It's a second home to a lot of people I think," said Brenda Townsend, a 30-year Escondido resident. "My greatest fear is we would have people working here who wouldn't be able to serve our community as they had in the past."

She and other community members gathered petition signatures outside of the library Monday and plan to present it to the city council.

The city says right now they're just exploring potential cost savings.

City Manager Jeffrey Epp believes if they do move forward, the level of services will remain the same or even improve. He says if they outsource staff to a private company, the library will remain public. The city would not have to pay for costly pensions and estimates it could save $400,000 a year.

The private company that would take over is Library Systems and Services. Epp says they are the only company that provides these services and they currently do so for 83 library branches all over the country.

John Donel, a Reference Librarian, is opposed to the plan and says morale is low among staff after hearing the news.

"If you get me started I can be very passionate. I've been a librarian for 28 years, and this is something I believe in my heart. If they sign this I would walk out the door," said Donel. "It sends a signal from the city government to the library that we don't really care about you, we're willing to outsource you to a private company."

Epp says no library staff would lose their jobs. They would either transition to another city job or be offered a position by the private company.

City council will likely take up the issue next month and will allow the public to weigh in before deciding whether to vote or not.

City officials are also looking to outsource a number of public works positions, like graffiti removal, pavement maintenance, and landscaping.