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Dynamics of management between special-purpose governments and privatization of public libraries

Issei Suzuki (Graduate School of Library, Information and Media Studies, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Japan)
Masanori Koizumi (Faculty of Library, Information and Media Science, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Japan)

Library Management

ISSN: 0143-5124

Article publication date: 26 August 2021

Issue publication date: 4 November 2021

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204

Abstract

Purpose

This research focused on the management dynamics between library districts' discretion and privatization of library management. Previous research has reported conflicting effects of this dynamic. However, few studies have investigated privatization of library management by library districts. Additionally, previous research has accepted the premise that when public libraries change from general-purpose government to library districts, they will not implement privatization prior to forming districts. Therefore, this study aimed to determine whether conflicting effects arise in the dynamics between library districts' discretion and privatization in library management.

Design/methodology/approach

To address research gaps, an in-depth case analysis was conducted of the Jackson County Library District in Oregon, where library management has been privatized both before and after library district formation. The analysis divided the study period into three phases, which differed by legal basis and operating body. To clarify the characteristics of library management in each phase, changes in finances, staff hiring and library services were analyzed.

Findings

In Phase 1, privatization was implemented in response to the financial difficulties of the public library run by the county government. In Phase 2, the library district was formed with the aim of stabilizing revenue and securing management autonomy. During Phase 3, the library district and operating body were both operated by a private company. Although the financial resources of the library district were stable, it was unable to implement autonomous library management. This demonstrates that privatization cannot facilitate autonomous management, an advantage of library districts.

Originality/value

By investigating the conflicting effects of the dynamics between library district discretion and privatization, this research contributes to greater understanding in the fields of public management and library science.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI (grant number 16K16161).

Citation

Suzuki, I. and Koizumi, M. (2021), "Dynamics of management between special-purpose governments and privatization of public libraries", Library Management, Vol. 42 No. 8/9, pp. 498-514. https://doi.org/10.1108/LM-07-2020-0107

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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