Fate of Kern Public Libraries Remains Uncertain

Kern Library BOS meeting

 

 

 

 

Community overwhelmingly calls for more funding.

During four hours of hearings on public libraries, our community came together to support quality public services. Based on our community support, Kern County Supervisors decided to further examine the dedicated one-eighth cent library sales tax. Contrary to the will of the majority of the people in the room, they also initiated the process for a Request for Information, the first step in privatizing our libraries. While the decision shows that we have power when we join with our community, we need to continue to build our strength if we’re going to save our libraries. Become a member now to protect public services!

Over one hundred people turned out for the Kern County Board of Supervisors meeting regarding the future of our Kern County Libraries. Dozens more joined the hearing from remote locations in Mojave, Ridgecrest and the Kern River Valley.  The vast majority got up to speak in favor of keeping this vital public resource focused on serving the people of Kern County.

Among the speakers was Heather Eddy, a Librarian II with the Kern County Libraries, who tearfully addressed the Supervisors: “All I am asking for is the right for the people of Kern County to choose. We should have that right.”

Sonja Bennett, an Administrative Coordinator with the Department of Human Services, said, “Our community has said over and over, through a county survey and public forums, that it highly values our public libraries and wants the county to invest in the system. On the issue of saving and strengthening public libraries for public use, SEIU members and the community are standing strong together.”

A spokeswomen hired by LSSI, the only company in America that runs outsourced libraries, spoke against letting residents decide and asked that the Board push for outsourcing. She said that the libraries are not open  often enough because of “antiquated civil service rules,” a strong indication that LSSI is planning on making sure they will do away with worker protections. This is why we need to continue to build our membership. Become a member now.

Together, we can push back against the idea turning our public services into profit centers. Our work over the last year to unite the community is paying off and we need to continue coming together and building our membership to #UniteFightWin for the people of Kern County.

Click here to see the article in the Bakersfield Californian.

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