Library volunteers unhappy with Sumter County outsourcing

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SUMTER COUNTY, Fla. - There is already fallout over a decision to outsource services at Sumter County's public libraries.

While officials said the move could save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, critics told Channel 9's Berndt Petersen that volunteers at the libraries are threatening to quit.

Marilyn Ivison has volunteered at a Sumter County library branch in the Villages since it opened three years ago. She said things are about to change.

"I thought it was totally ridiculous," said Ivison.

Ivison said a substantial number of county residents are upset by a recent 4-1 vote by county commissioners to outsource library services.

Records show the county's new contract with Library Systems and Services in Maryland to run Sumter's six libraries will save taxpayers $800,000 a year.

"From a taxpayers' advantage, it's probably a good thing. But there are other things to consider," said Sumter County resident Kevin Connors.

Like library employees, Ivison said with the private company coming in, pay and benefits will be drastically cut. She believes most are looking for new jobs. And she said there won't be much free help to the new for-profit library company. Many of the 125 volunteers might quit.

"I don't want any part of that. That evening and the next day, people were telling me, 'Take me off the list. I don't want to volunteer anymore,'" said Ivison.

The library outsourcing is set to begin on Oct. 1.