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Submitted by Patricia Wallace
Chair, Hawaii Working Group
American Library Association
Social Responsibilities Round Table
Alternatives in Print Task Force
den wall@aol.com

Honolulu Star-Bulletin
March 1, 1997, pA-3

"Librarians may choose books again"
Two Senate committees have voted to end
the policy of "outsourcing"

by Jean Christensen

A state library official says customer service at Hawaii's public libraries
will suffer if the library system is barred from hiring private firms to
oversee  book selection.

The Ways and Means Committee voted unanimously yesterday to
prohibit "outsourcing" in the area of book selection, while allowing it
in areas such as book purchasing and cataloging, following a similar
vote in the Education Committee two weeks ago.

The measure, which now goes to the Senate floor, would end the
library system's controversial contract with a North Carolina book-
buying firm, said Sen. Rod Tam, chairman of the Education Committee
and a member of the Ways and Means Committee.  A new contract
could possibly be negotiated to allow the firm to supply books, he said,
but local librarians would select them.

"The message is that we want selection of the library materials to be
done by the librarians in the community," Tam said.  "They're the
closest to the public, and the public has spoken very loud and clear
that they want to be involved."

John Penebacker, special assistant to state Librarian Bart Kane,
said the contract with Baker & Taylor Inc. is part of a re-engineering
project that has allowed the 49 library branches to assign more of
their staff members to duties where they are in direct contact with the
public, significantly improving customer service.

Yesterday's committee action could undermine those improvements,
he said.   "It  potentially would have an effect on the public service
hours," Penebacker said.
Although many other library systems around the country contract with
Baker & Taylor or other firms to supply their books, Hawaii is the only
state that has hired a private firm to select books.

Last month, the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American
Library Association passed a resolution urging the Hawaii State Library
System to immediately cancel its contract with Baker & Taylor.  The
panel at its Washington D.C. , meeting also recommended that other
libraries do not follow the "Hawaii model," which demonstrably leads
to wrecked, irrelevant, and inaccessible collections, as well as wasting
both money and staff expertise."
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