May 24, 2022

San Jose City Councilman Proposes Replacing Retiring Library Workers with Volunteers

From the Mercury News:

In an effort to preserve the cash-strapped city’s budget, a San Jose councilman wants to replace retiring city library workers with community volunteers or face the more serious alternative of outsourcing the libraries altogether.

“We have beautiful libraries, and if we allow volunteers to augment current city staff, our libraries would be open more days per week,” said Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio, who has consistently sought to outsource the city’s union employees with less expensive contractors.

“The reality is, 95 percent of the library patrons use self-check out. It’s not the library you and I grew up with. I want a model where the doors are open.”


The suggestions — which will be addressed at a city committee hearing Jan. 4 — have outraged critics, who said there’s more to running a library than keeping the doors open.

“I think it shows a lack of respect for what our city employees do,” said Councilman Ash Kalra, a labor ally. “He thinks anybody can walk off the street and do that job. But it’s not just about putting books on the shelf.”

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.