FROM LITHUB: Donald Cohen and Allen Mikaelian on the Priceless, Non-Transactional Aspects of Libraries

The wide-reaching effects of library privatization including the takeover of Escondido’s library by LS&S are discussed at length in the article linked below.

Cohen and Mikaelian’s new book, The Privatization of Everything connects the dots across a broad spectrum of issues and raises larger questions about who controls the public things we all rely on, exposing the hidden crisis of privatization that has been slowly unfolding over the last fifty years and giving us a road map for taking our country back.


Welcome to the Escondido Public Library Watchdog.

Why a Watchdog? We believe that an important public good, like a library, should not be handed over to a private entity firm. We hold that public libraries should be operated by and for the public. In the almost two years our Library has been operated by a corporate interest significant problems are evident. Corporate protections in the city-adopted contract do not allow for effective, transparent, or even credible, oversight of corporate performance. Important information is kept from the Library Board of Trustees and the public. Financial information, salaries, and qualifications are unknown, staff turnover un-trackable, data is not transparent, key staff are not ‘hired’ by the Trustees, but rather presented to them from a candidate pool of one. The Watchdog seeks to provide some public oversight for our library.

Two years later all we have to show is a decimated staff, a 3-D printer no one can use, and no restored services to our East Valley community.

Now, new efforts are afoot about expanding the library or building a new one at significant tax-payer expense and operated by a corporation. Soon, the public will be surveyed about whether they would support funding for a new library. The Watchdog is calling for other public-operated library options to be considered such as County or Palomar College branches. If you care about quality libraries, we encourage you to get involved and stay involved.

Here is a quick guide to our website

Share a Concern about the Library We will try to look into your concern or answer any questions. If you have a library concern please contact us here.

Escondido Library Board of Trustees if you want information on the trustees and their deliberations.

Watchdog Actions if you want to read our letters or learn how to take action.

Stop Library Outsourcing if you want to know the history of our struggle and issues related to LS&S elsewhere.

Updates/Blog to read previous messages or to join our listserve, sign up here.

Why we are opposed to LS&S operation of our library

The Watchdog is opposed to operation of our public library for profit by a private corporation. In this case of Library Services and Systems (LS&S) is owned by a private equity firm. LS&S receives our tax-dollars to operate the library, takes profits from our tax-dollars, and, in fact, receives an automatic increase no matter how they perform. This is bad public policy.

A few of our concerns are outlined in the letters and information below. More can be found on the Stop Library Outsourcing page however a particularly instructive letter is excerpted below.

Letter from a former Jackson County leader about problems with LS&S there, October 16, 2017.

Letter Excerpt: In 2015, after witnessing staff turnover and hearing of profound discontent, the library district board hired a renowned public library expert to evaluate the management of the Jackson County Library System. That report is available online and speaks for itself as to the efficacy of the outside management firm and its ability to manage our libraries over its eleven-year tenure. Since the report, the JCLD board has repeatedly urged for higher salaries and better benefits for staff as a way to quell staff turnover and offered more money to execute that actionYet, the outside management team has lumbered to meet that request. Clearly, to meet expectations of hedge fund investors, management has relied on volunteers and minimum wage employees to ensure profits and overhead are met while simultaneously meeting minimum requirements for hours and staffing levels.

Save our Escondido Library Coalition to BOT Concerns about LS&S performance in other areas. July 28,2017

To City Council, Escondido Indivisible opposition to outsourcing action, September 7, 2017

Media Advisory, Summary of scathing Jackson County LS&S performance audit, Sept.11, 2017

DISCLAIMER: The Escondido Library Watchdog volunteers make every effort to ensure accuracy and faithful reporting of information on this website. However, please bring any discrepancies or perceived inaccuracies to our attention at Thank you.

Announcing the Library Watchdog

Dear Supporters of the Escondido Library,

We are happy to report that we have launched a new effort to oversee our library– The Escondido Library Watchdog.  The website was launched October 10, 2019 at the regular meeting of the Board of Library Trustees.  Please see the statement of Brenda Townsend below. 

Statement Announcing the launch of the Escondido Library Watchdog, October 10, 2019

Good Afternoon.

As some of you know, as long as I have lived in Escondido many years. I have been passionate user and supporter of our library.

Then, from the time I marched to and hand-delivered over 4,000 signatures to the City Clerk’s office in 2017 in opposition to LS&S, I became a dedicated defender of our library and committed to quality library services for our city, in spite of its operation by a for-profit corporation. 

I’m happy to be here today to announce the launch of a new website the Escondido Library Watchdog.

Why a Watchdog?

Some of you will remember on January 14 of this year, a meeting was held.  Several of you were in attendance along with the Mayor and John Masson.  Without going into the details of that difficult meeting, we were told that we should engage with the public and the Trustees in the oversight of LS&S and the contract.  We took this directive to heart and the result is the new Escondido Library Watchdog website launched today.  

This kind of independent oversight is needed now. Since LS&S has taken over our library, many people have complained to us about its operation, the low staff morale, loss of books, high staff turnover rates, and many other problems.  When told them to file a complaint with LS&S, they replied they did not think it would do any good, that no one ‘will hear us’.

Since the Trustees have the obligation and desire to oversee the performance of LS&S in its contract, we are sure you will all agree with us that public input and involvement is highly desirable and necessary to have a library worth the residents of this city—and worth the tax-dollars we spend on it.

The Watchdog will be a clearinghouse for concerns, information, important links, and other information easily accessible to the public.  Importantly, it will have a form that can be submitted raising questions or concerns related to library services in Escondido.

The Library Watchdog will vet those concerns to the best of our ability and share those most relevant with you, the public appointed trustees of our library, for response and action. We would like to offer our first Community Concern today.  Several of our members are very concerned that while the library has a 3-D printer, no one gets to use it. 

We request that the Trustees respond to the Notices of Concern in the public venue of these meetings so that your oversight is visible and known to the public.

We are very excited about this new public tool and we wanted to come to you first to announce it.  We hope you will check it out at

We can be contacted with questions should you have any at

Thank you