Lake County says 'No' to outsourcing library services

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LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - A plan to outsource Lake County's libraries triggered a public backlash Tuesday.

People jammed the Lake County commission meeting to voice their opposition.

The crowd was so one-sided in its opinion on the issue that supporters of outsourcing the library services were never given a chance to speak.

"I think a lot of it had to do with not knowing what would have happened," said Joann Glendinning, Fruitland Park's library director.

Glendinning joined more than 200 people at the commission meeting, almost all of whom opposed plans to outsource library services.

"I think it's our obligation to look at ideas like this.  It doesn't mean I support them," said Commissioner Jimmy Conner.

Commission staff ran the numbers and estimated a private company could run the county's 15 libraries and save taxpayers up to $350,000 a year.  But there was a part of the deal some leaders didn't like.

"Profit, that a company is coming in and actually going to make a profit, I find problematic," said Commission Chair Leslie Campione.

Once it was clear officials would not support outsourcing, Campione asked for a show of hands from those who felt the same way. When nearly every hand in the room was raised the commission decided to forgo public discussion and voted against outsourcing library services.

"I'm very frustrated by what I saw today -- the fact that they would close off and turn a blind eye to public discussion about this," said Jason Hoyt, as supporter of outsourcing library services.

But the decision was fine with Glendinning, even though she might have to cut her budget by up to 10 percent.

"But it allows me to keep my doors open. I might have to tighten my belt, but keep my doors open, and my programs going.  (It) keeps my community happy," said Glendinning.

Lake County library directors have already cut their budgets by 6 percent for the coming year.