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 saveescondidolibrary@gmail.com Thank you.

Library contract with LS&S in other cities have more protective termination clauses

One of the key issues at stake with the library contract is whether or not and under what conditions the City can end the contract.  The draft contract the council will  consider on Wed is very weak and fully in favor of LS&S.  Other contracts in California that LS&S has signed include more protective termination clauses for the public.  Our escape clause should be AT LEAST as favorable to us as these.  As to term as well, they will accept a year by year agreement.  Our city does not have to agree to 10 years.

Please let the Mayor and Council know that you want our city protected and a termination ‘with or without cause’ must be included.

City of Camarillo:  


“Section 19. Termination of Agreement 19.1 Either party may terminate this Agreement, with or without cause, at any time by giving at least six months prior written notice of termination to the other party.”

City of Moorpark:


“1. Term. The term of this Agreement shall be from July 1, 2016 to completion to June 30, 2017 in conformance with Exhibit B, unless this agreement is terminated or suspended pursuant to this Agreement.  City may extend the term of this Agreement, subject to Termination as stated in Section 6, on the same terms and conditions as in effect just before the then-current end of the term, for up to four (4) successive periods of one (1) year each by providing written notice to Consultant no later than 120 days before the then-current end of term. If all of these extensions are exercised, the Agreement will end of June 30, 2021.”

“6. Termination or Suspension without Cause. Either Party may terminate this Agreement with or without cause by giving the other Party six (6) calendar months written notice of termination.”

City of Santa Clarita:


“8. TERM. The initial term of this Agreement will be from July 1, 2016 (the “Effective Date”) to June 30, 2017. The City Manager may extend the term of this Agreement, subject to Termination as stated in Section 15, on the same terms and conditions as in effect just before the then-current end of the term, for up to four (4) successive periods of one (1) year each by providing written notice to CONSULTANT no later than 120 days before the then-current end of the term. If all of these extensions are exercised, the Agreement will end on June 30, 2021.”

“15. TERMINATION. Notwithstanding Section 8 of this Agreement: A. CITY may terminate this Agreement with cause at any time after CONSULTANT fails to cure such cause upon thirty (30) days prior written notice. Either Party may terminate this Agreement without cause with one hundred eighty (180) days written notice prior to end of CITY’s fiscal year.”


Media Release: Escondido Library Trustees Agree with Community: Vote Unanimously to Oppose Privatization of the Escondido Library


CONTACT: Laura Hunter, Escondido Indivisible, 619-997-9983, Christine Nava, Escondido Chamber of Citizens, 760-715-9053

Escondido Library Trustees Agree with Community:  Vote Unanimously to Oppose Privatization of the Escondido Library
Save Our Library Coalition logs first big win, but the fight is not over

Escondido, CA:  Sporting library heart badges, over 150 residents were on-hand as the Board of Library Trustees voted unanimously to oppose the outsourcing of the Escondido Library.

Citing concerns about loss of transparency, accountability, volunteer support, and community cohesion speaker after speaker urged the Trustees to save the library and recommend against outsourcing.  A frequent theme of the commenters was a lack of trust and confidence in the current Council majority when it comes to libraries. It was very apparent that the Council closing of the East Valley Branch is still an open wound for Escondido residents.

“If they do this to our current library, why on earth would we support a bond measure for a new library?” said Laura Hunter, organizer of Escondido Indivisible and Coalition member.

Residents held signs with messages including, “Yes, we really do care about the library, Don’t Export our Tax $$$ Out of State, and Libraries are Sacred”. Organizers ran out of badges as people poured into the hearing.

Several library coalition members reminded them of the significant role that the volunteers play in supporting the library and that the Council risks the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars of support annually if the library is handed over to a private corporation.  Many speakers vowed that this support is at-risk of being lost if the library privatizes.

As a long-term volunteer, Virginia Abushanab pointed out that The Shop, run completely by volunteers, generates about $75,000 a year, all of which is given back to the library in sponsoring programs and augmenting the materials budget.  At present, The Shop donates $50,000 per year, or one-fifth, to the city.  “I find it galling that LS&S has indicated, as written in their budget proposal, that they expect us volunteers to continue to give them the same financial support as we do our beloved public institution,” she said.  She, and other volunteers she’s talked with, will not volunteer one minute for a profit-making organization, especially in light of the fact that the transfer was so hostile.

Another active library volunteer said, “Volunteering for free to line the pockets of a corporation is like me going to McDonalds and pushing a broom to sweep up for them.  I’m not going to do it!”

Patricia Serrano told the Trustees that as an immigrant she learned English at the library and it allowed her children to have access to books they needed. “My child graduated from a prestigious Massachusetts college. Without the library, my son wouldn’t have been able to succeed as he has.”

Coalition members who have been collecting signatures told the Board that they had amassed over 1,500 signatures.  Liz White, a petition volunteer, noted that “At first, we spent a lot of time educating people about what it meant.  A week later, they were running to the table to sign the petition.”

Speaker appearances included two former Directors of the library, Laura Mitchell and Loretta McKinney. Ms. Mitchell read a letter opposing the outsourcing from the American Library Association President James Neal and Public Library Association Pam Smith.  The letter can be found here, ALA Letter to Trustees and City Council.

Ms. McKinney stated, “The unfunded pension issue is a real issue and should be addressed with a master plan and timeline.” She went on to add, “I am not in favor of LS&S.  The community is the first to suffer so that LS&S gets their profits.”

Whitney McCoy, the main presenter for the Coalition, shared significant information and research she had conducted on our library, privatization, and LS&S.  She said “This matters because privatizing a public library is a red flag for a local government that is derelict in its duties to its citizenry.  Contracting with LS&S will remove our taxpayer money from the local community and put it in the hands of a private, for-profit, equity firm-controlled company with no obligation for transparency and no incentive for responding to our needs”

Only one sitting Council member was present. Lone Council member Olga Diaz noted that she did not sign the Grand Jury response due to the inclusion of outsourcing in the response. “I urge the Trustees to encourage the Council to abandon this idea.  I’d love nothing more than to pick up my clipboard and work to get community support for the Library bond measure.”

Chair Guiles said that among his concerns was building support for a new library. “We need a new library and we cannot pass a bond if we have any organized opposition in the community.” He noted the Trustees had received untold comments, letters, and emails on this topic and only one supported outsourcing.

Trustee Myra Salazar had the most compelling defense of the library, “I can tell you, for sure, if it wasn’t for the library I wouldn’t be sitting here today.”  She made the motion to oppose outsourcing of our library which was seconded by Trustee Gary Knight. The motion passed unanimously.

Now, the Trustees will meet to finalize their letter to the City Council.   The coalition will be present at the next City Council meeting on August 16th.  A rally in front of City Hall will be held at 3:30 and residents are invited to speak to the Council directly on public comment at 4:30.

“This is a big win, but it’s not over yet. We will continue to fight for the library we love!”, said Vanessa Valenzuela, a local activist who put the entire hearing on Facebook LIVE.  The meeting can be seen here Trustee Meeting August 8, 2017.

This is a significant victory for Save Our Escondido Library Coalition who have worked tirelessly since the first heard about this threat to our library last month.

Please email Liz White at liz_white@me.com to be added to the Save the Escondido Library Coalition information list.  You can also visit On the Issue Escondido Indivisible


About Save Our Escondido Library Coalition: The coalition was formed by local Escondido community groups and local residents in response to the City of Escondido’s move to consider privatization of the Escondido Public Library. The coalition seeks to educate themselves and the public and to provide a conduit for Escondido residents to voice their concerns.

Escondido Indivisible, Together We Will Inland North County, Escondido Democratic Club, Escondido Chamber of Citizens, and Escondido Climate Action Alliance

Media Advisory: Save Our Escondido Library Coalition


Coalition to stand against outsourcing at Library Trustee Board Tuesday, August 8, 2 PM at the Escondido Library

Residents say degrading our library degrades our city

Escondido, CA: On Tuesday, August 8, 2017, 2 PM at the Escondido Library, residents will urge the Mayor-appointed Board of Trustees to recommend against privatization of our library services. The Coalition now has 100s of members and is collecting signatures on two petitions opposing the outsourcing proposal.

Library volunteer Virginia Abushanab warned “One thing I don’t think the City Council has considered is the value of the volunteers that they are about to lose. As a long-time volunteer, I can guarantee that I, and all the volunteers I’ve spoken with, are not going to offer our free services to a company who will increase their bottom line from them. Are the members aware that there are 213 active volunteers on the roster and in June alone of this year they gave a total of 2407 hours? What a coincidence, it comes almost exactly to the $400,000 Mr Epp says will be saved.”

Debbie Resler, a frequent library user said “A library is an essential resource. One reason I value this community is our public library. We’ve already lost one Escondido library – we need to make sure that the remaining one is focused on meeting the needs of our local community, and not maximizing revenue for a private, for-profit company.”

Librarian Whitney McCoy, MLIS candidate, will present her findings on the past record of Library Systems & Services (LS&S) the company proposed to take over the library receiving $2.4 million annual payments from the city.

Attendees will be carrying signs and the petition drive continues outside of the library. The petitions have over 800 signatures opposed to privatization in the first week of collection. Members will be on hand to speak to the media.

About Save Our Escondido Library Coalition: The coalition was formed by local Escondido community groups and local residents in response to the City of Escondido’s move to consider privatization of the Escondido Public Library. The coalition seeks to educate themselves and the public and to provide a conduit for Escondido residents to voice their concerns.

Escondido Democratic Club, Escondido Indivisible, Escondido Chamber of Citizens, Escondido Climate Action Alliance and Together We Will North County Inland