Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Private company to run Osceola County libraries - My Fox Orlando | Florida : 12th December


Osceola County Commissioners voted Monday night to turn over control of the county's library system to a private, for-profit, company.

"The county's former library director, Ed Kilroy, spoke out against the privatization at the board meeting. He fears the savings just won't add up.
"I think what we're going to find as they get further into the contract, I think there are going to be some unintended consequences that they are not aware of, nor have they truly vetted it," Kilroy said."
"One retired librarian who worked in Osceola County for 16 years, is concerned about her former co-workers.
"I hope things will continue as they have been, but for some it will be hard on the employees," said Vicki Edy."
"Osceola County leaders say all the current employees will stay and be able to keep their seniority and state benefits, but will have to reapply for their jobs."

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Cities see benefit in library transition—Really…? Not really - Save Santa Clarita Libraries


Simi Valley City in California are pushing hard to privatise their library system before the AB438 Bill comes into force on 01/01/12, the bill would require them to undertake a cost-benefit analysis and to engage with users and the wider community. You have to ask yourself what is going on, why are cities and authorities behaving in this manner, what has happened to accountability, openness and fairness?

Monday, 28 November 2011

Save the UK's libraries? It's beyond me, admits US guru - Independent - 28/11/11

"An American library firm that entered the UK market to great fanfare earlier this year has had to beat a retreat, admitting that the attempt has been tougher than expected.
A slug of judicial reviews and lack of tenders by local authorities, which are nervous of outsourcing their library services to independent providers, were among the reasons cited."

Well it looks as if LSSI have pulled the plug on their UK aspirations, they have obviously underestimated the level of protest and disinterest here. Their last hopes were pinned on Wokingham, now backtracking, and Croydon/Wandsworth, who don't seem to have any clear plans anymore, in fact they are in a complete pickle! I don't think we should drop our guard completely, they still intend to "continue forging relationships with local authorities" and we still have trusts and volunteers to contend with!
Well done to everyone who campaigned against them, we all deserve a pat on the back.

I'll need to find something new to blog about!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

County Commission moves forward on library outsourcing; vote was 3-2 - Around Osceola - 07/11/11


"Outsourcing the operation of the Osceola Library System to a Maryland-based company moved forward today as the County Commission on a 3-2 vote set Dec. 12 as the date for staff to present a contract for the service.
An actual vote on a contract with LSSI is not expected until at least the Dec. 19 meeting in order to allow time for a contract proposal to be vetted by the community"

Private company says it can run Osceola County libraries - wftv.com - 31/10/11


"Top officials with the LSSI company faced tough question from Osceola County commissioners Monday afternoon over their bid to take over management of the library system.

During a presentation to commissioners, LSSI said it could save the county $5 million over five years without cutting services.

"We're able to do it because we have efficiencies and we can approach things differently," Frank Pezzanite of LSSI said.

But former Osceola library director Ed Kilroy, who attended the meeting as a library advocate, is skeptical.

"They cannot in my opinion keep the hours the same, keep the staff the same, and then save that kind of money, no," Kilroy said."

Council to review libraries decision - Getwokingham - 25/11/11


"History was made in the Wokingham council chamber last week when the first debate ever to be triggered by a public petition took place, prompting a review of a decision on the future of the borough’s libraries.
Following debate, Wokingham Borough Council approved a recommendation to review its decision to outsource control of the borough’s libraries after a competitive tender process, to take account of public feeling."

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

How do LSSI make a profit?

"In its proposal to run the Stockton-San Joaquin Public Library (a decision that is still pending), LSSI said "professional level hires would typically start around $40,000 increasing to $55,000 or higher depending on education, experience, and level of responsibility."
That is not comparable to current salaries, however.
Under San Joaquin's current system, a Librarian I earns $45,338 to $58,204 a year, while a Librarian II earns $55,362 to $71,082 annually. LSSI's proposal in San Joaquin would also reduce the number of MLS-bearing employees from 19 to 17"

taken from http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/home/887353-264/lssi_wins_new_contract_in.html.csp

"I've looked at the details of the proposal, and I'm scratching my head as to how LSSI is going to pull this off," Colleen Foster, former director of the SSJCPL, commented to LJ.
"The company claims that service will improve, and yet it also plans to reduce salaries and benefits and eliminate two professionally certified librarians," she said. "It's like LSSI doesn't understand that good librarians are the heart of a successful library system."
"While LSSI asserted that it "pays competitive wages," in a response to questions posed by the county government, there are significant differences, particularly for professional librarians:
Page salaries in the system would stay constant, new clerical hires would make "approximately $10 per hour to more than $15 per hour" and "professional level hires would typically start around $40,000 increasing to $55,000 or higher depending on education, experience and level of responsibility," according to Pezzanite.
In the current system pay scale, shelvers make minimum wage, Library Aides earn $14.44 to $20.47 an hour ($30,000 to $43,000 a year) and Circulation Assistants earn $14.82 to $20.96 an hour ($31,000 to $44,000 a year). While the LSSI proposal includes no positions for Library Assistants, SSJCPL pays a Library Assistant I $35,670 to $45,793 a year, and a Library Assistant II $41,316 to $53,038 a year. A Librarian I earns $45,338 to $58,204 a year, while a Librarian II earns $55,362 to $71,082 a year."
"While every community situation is unique, over the years we have seen that our benefits program is generally comparable to a city's or county's benefit plan. One exception may be the pension program. LSSI offers a 401 (k) plan and matches a portion of our employees' contributions."

taken from http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/home/887000-264/lssi_controversy_still_brewing_in.html.csp

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Libraries future to be debated - Getwokingham - 17/11/11


If Councillor UllaKarin Clark and her co-horts had conducted a proper consultation process and had facilitated an open and honest debate there wouldn't have been any need for campaigners/users to petition them, but this seems to be the pattern up and down the country, councils flouting guidleines and ignoring the public!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

CALIX responses to Library Privatization and LSSI - Pacific Library Partnership

Fascinating discussion on LSSI taken from the Pacific Library Partnership website, you will notice that nearly all the pro-LSSI respondents are library Senior Managers (Directors, co-ordinators, administrators etc), funny that!


Will Your Town’s Library Soon Be Privatized? - Blog For Iowa 12/11/11


"So over the past 30 years beginning with Ronald Reagan, we have watched our government be dismantled as pieces are sold off or leased to the highest bidder. We also see government services be passed out to private businesses never realizing that if the private company does not perform up to expectations or keep prices in line they will probably not be able to bring the service back in house."

Petition forces debate on library sell off - Getwokingham 14/11/11

Well it looks as if Councillor UllaKarin Clark and her buddies on Wokingham Council have underestimated the public protest against their proposals to privatise/outsource the library service, she also seems to be back tracking just a little, I wonder why?

Monday, 7 November 2011

Keep our libraries out of corporate hands by David Atkins - Ventura County Star 05/11/11


"Today, sadly, many American cities are abandoning the proud tradition begun by Franklin and Jefferson in a paroxysm of radical pro-privatization ideology. They are placing public libraries in corporate hands, despite strong community backlashes against doing so"

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Privatizing public libraries a bad idea - Editorial; Oregon, USA | The Gresham Outlook : 2nd November


"In relationship to county libraries, we fear that privatization would only serve to heap new expenses on the very people least able to afford them.
One of the most attractive components of public libraries is the notion that everyone, from any social and economic strata, has equal and unrestricted access to books, periodicals, movies and online resources."
Thank goodness a voice in the wilderness!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Privatization—and Pushback—Proceed in Santa Clarita - ALA Magazine

How i missed this article from July nobody knows? especially as it mentions my blog!
The thing that always amazes me about the vast majority of articles in the US about library privatisation is the total lack, except for Lori Rivas and some other campaigners, of discussion about the public sector ethos, it's as if privatisation and outsourcing were a god given right and anybody that opposes it is anti-democratic and a 'red under the bed'!

Privatization Showdown Moves to Osceola County, Florida - ALA Magazine


"After several months of rumors about the future of the Osceola Library System that serves Osceola County, Florida, a series of public hearings that began October 25 are seeking to explain why county officials are considering the outsourcing of library services to Germantown, Maryland–based privatization firm Library Systems and Services, Inc., and how LSSI plans to deliver the services sought. Officials seem to have an uphill battle on their hands to sway their constituents, however: The prospect of privatization has already pitted library supporters and the Florida Library Association against the county commission."

see http://www.flalib.org/advocacy_documents/Website_Osceola.pdf for Florida Library Association response to privatisation proposals

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Save Wokingham Libraries Blog

Campaigning against Wokingham Council's plan to privatise the local library service.

Sanderstead Library Campaign Group blogsite

"We are a campaign group of residents, originally set up to save Sanderstead library and to maintain a professional service at our much loved and well used community library. The campaign has grown wider to include ALL Croydon libraries as they are now under threat. We accept anybody's comments on any aspect of libraries in Croydon."

'Das Defends Library Law' - Santa Barbara Independent 13/10/11


"Admitting that SEIU certainly had come to him with concerns about handing over public libraries to private enterprise, Williams also explained that folks from CAUSE (Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy) and Friends of the Library approached him with their worry about the potential impacts of going private. “I was hearing from everybody what a terrible thing privatizing could be and, as we went along, I received a lot of encouragement from around the state,” said the former Santa Barbara city councilmember. As for accusations about not negotiating with opponents, Williams scoffed and pointed to the fact that the adopted bill did not include his originally proposed voter clause, which would have required a vote of the people before a city could go private, as evidence of his willingness to work with opposing views."

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

'Libraries sell off plan to be reviewed' - Getwokingham 4/10/11


"Controversial plans to put the management of the borough’s libraries out to tender will be reviewed in a full council debate after a petition with 2,374 signatures opposing the decision was handed to the council."

"The Save Our Libraries petition is calling on the council to change its decision because campaigners say the only way a private company will make profit will be to close libraries and increase charges for residents."

Monday, 26 September 2011

Savings 'will justify' £250k cost of Croydon libraries hand over - Croydon Advertiser 26/09/11


"A £250,000 exercise is being launched to find an outside organisation to run Croydon's libraries.
The cost of going through the tendering exercise was attacked at Monday's meeting by Councillor Maggie Mansell, Labour's shadow cabinet member for culture and sport.
She asked: "Is it worth spending £250,000 when savings could be made in-house without that cost?"

"In the run up to Monday's meeting, eight organisations had expressed serious interest in taking on the contract.
They comprised four local government bodies – Bexley and Bromley Council Consortium, Essex County Council, Merton Council and Vision Redbridge plus three private companies – Civica, John Laing Integrated Services and American firm LSSI.
The eighth potential bidder was Greenwich Leisure Ltd, a non-profit co-operative which runs leisure services in 11 London boroughs."

Osceola County lays off 16; libraries take biggest hit


"The library positions eliminated in terms of annual salary were valued at $455,091, while the new positions are valued at $175,793.10, for a net savings of $279,298.
Ed Kilroy, former library system director, said he believes cutting all branch managers is a precursor to the county outsourcing the library operations to Maryland-based Library Systems & Services LLC, referred to as LSSI. The county previously had set a deadline of Jan. 1 for a decision on whether to turn the library operation over to a private company in order to save money.
“They are cutting the library system at the knees,” Kilroy said, adding that if the county is headed toward outsourcing, then there hasn't been enough community dialogue on the issue."

New numbers on library outsourcing not so rosy


"The annual projected savings Osceola County government could realize by outsourcing management of the Osceola Library System to a private company has been cut by more than two-thirds, according to information provided at the Library Advisory Board meeting Wednesday.
Deputy County Manager Beth Knight reported that the initial projection of $2.5 million in annual savings the county could realize by outsourcing library management to Maryland-based Library Systems & Services. has been cut to $800,000 after further study, with the projected savings over a five-year contract about $4 million instead of $12.5 million."

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Monday, 19 September 2011

The Privatisation of Public Library services

A piece written by me for the 'Voices for the Library' blog


"At the moment a storm is raging in California over the privatisation of public library services and the proposed introduction of Bill AB 438, a Bill that would require a city/authority to hold a referendum before handing its libraries over to a private firm to run. What has this got to do with the situation here? – well the biggest private provider in the US, Library Systems and Services (LSSI),   just happens to be looking for business in the UK.
LSSI are currently talking to a number of authorities in the UK including Wokingham and Croydon; they have stated that they are looking for a 15% share of the sector but have not to date signed any contracts — as far as we know?   It is also worth pointing out that another private firm John Laing Integrated Services currently runs Hounslow Libraries which have latterly suffered significant staff cuts and threats of closures .
Clearly the issue of privatisation is one that polarises opinion, especially in the US where most commentators are pro-privatisation with the counter-protest coming from places like Santa Clarita and the ‘Privatisazation Beast’ campaign set up by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
In the UK there is evidence that the majority of opinion is “anti”.  Reasonable people of all economic backgrounds and political colour do not welcome the piecemeal destruction of their valued public library service.  Some of my own reasons for opposing the privatisation of public libraries are listed below :

  • Private companies are accountable to their shareholders.  They exist to make profits and this, to me, in relation to running a public service is a fundamental conflict of interests. (LSSI are majority owned by the private equity firm ‘Islington Capital Partners’)
  • There is always a real risk that a private company could fail, leaving the service and users high and dry.
  • Public Libraries are perceived by most to be a ‘haven in a heartless world’ that offers a ‘neutral’, ‘public’, ‘non-judgemental’ and ‘safe’ environment.  Privatisation introduces a commercial element into the equation which radically changes this status.
  • LSSI, the main player, has a reputation in the US for using non-unionised staff, not paying pensions, cutting terms and conditions, deprofessionalising the workforce and paring the service back to the bone.
If the reader does not find the above arguments persuasive,  then the following quotes from LSSI’s founding father, Frank Pezzanite, and Jim Lynch, Vice President LSSI UK, might be a wake-up call :
“A lot of libraries are atrocious,” Mr. Pezzanite said. “Their policies are all about job security. That’s why the profession is nervous about us. You can go to a library for 35 years and never have to do anything and then have your retirement. We’re not running our company that way. You come to us, you’re going to have to work.”
The “slacks and trainers mentality” among librarians will be abolished, Mr Lynch says. In its place will be “a rigorous service culture”.
Need I say more?
Alan Wylie

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Monday, 12 September 2011

AB438 Bill passes senate vote!

Congratulations to Assemblyman Das Williams, Lori Rivas and all the others who have campaigned vigorously to have Bill AB438 passed.


Libraries' future is up for debate - Croydon Today

"IT IS looking almost certain that an outside organisation will take over the running of Croydon's libraries"


Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Maryland company builds library empire - Wahington Times

Interesting and fairly balanced article on LSSI published in the Washington times today. It claims that LSSI does not approach authorities but waits to be called, i don't know off any company that sits back and waits for business and as far as I know this was not the case in Croydon and Wokingham?


Monday, 5 September 2011

AB438 and the battle for public libraries in California!

The battle against Library privatisation and LSSI in California, especially Santa Clarita, is being led by Lori Rivas, she is a passionate campaigner and regularly posts on the topic;
Bill AB438 is due to be voted on on 7/9/11 and if passed would make it significantly harder for cities/authorities to privatise their library services without the consent of their local communities.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Libraries takeover moves a step closer - 'Getwokingham.co.uk'

http://www.getwokingham.co.uk/news/s/2097258_libraries_takeover_moves_a_step_closer -
It looks as if Councillor UllaKarin Clark and her Wokingham cohorts are totally ignoring local opposition and steaming ahead with privatisation plans, so much for democracy and accountability! They use the old 'trojan horse' tactic of saying that no libraries will close but they fail to mention the cuts to professional posts and the service!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Santa Clarita Library Opens Its Doors to LSSI as Toronto Gears Up for an Outsourcing Fight

Interesting article in the American Library Journal including details of staff benefits, or lack of them?, provided by LSSI and a survey carried out by the Library Research Service looking at the publics' attitude towards library privatisation, with 86% saying that library management should remain public!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Private Eye Library News - LSSI, Croydon and Wandsworth

Issue No. 1203
22 July to 4 August 2011


American outsourcing firm LSSI's ambitions to snap up 15 percent of UK libraries continue apace, as the firm tries to call first dibs on the library service in two London boroughs.

Croydon and Wandsworth chief execs Jon Rouse and Paul Martin jointly held what was described as a "30-minute chat" with Library Systems Services Inc (LSSI).  The councils kept very quiet about this -- Croydon's council leader told his local press he didn't know the meeting was taking place.  But LSSI bosses couldn't help name-dropping places they'd held meetings in an interview with the Sunday Express in June, prompting an outcry from Croydon library campaigners - who had previously been told that there were schools and voluntary groups clamouring to take on local libraries.

Just weeks later the two councils announced a joint market testing exercise to investigate whether a "third party organisation" could offer savings and improvements for the library service.


Thursday, 14 July 2011

Toronto says no to privatisation and library cuts

Toronto Public Library Workers Union : 13th July
Poll shows three-quarters of Toronto residents oppose closing local library branches
as a way of cutting costs and equally oppose library privatization

http://fivestones.ca/ourpubliclibraries/ - campaign site to save Toronto's libraries

Who’s the Boss? Does private management have a place in public libraries?

http://www.americanlibrariesmagazine.org/features/07122011/who-s-boss - make your own mind up, I have posted my comments.

Thursday, 7 July 2011


http://www.cla-net.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=292  - AB438, the bill that would “impose requirements on a city or library district that intends to withdraw from a county free library system and operate libraries with a private contractor.” passed the California Senate Governance and Finance Committee on 6/7/11, this is an important step on its way to becoming part of Californian state law.

"AB 438, as you may recall, is sponsored by the Ventura Reader’s Book Group and supported by SEIU and the California Labor Federation. AB 438 is opposed by the California League of Cities, LSSI, and the California Chamber of Commerce. During debate on the bill, the supporters argued for the protection of jobs and for more public input on the decision to outsource, while the opposition argued that the “practical effect of the bill was to ban cities from contracting out services, which likely means staff layoffs and branch closures.” 

Libraries are safe, says council boss

http://www.getwokingham.co.uk/news/s/2095713_libraries_are_safe_says_council_boss - a very odd interpretation of safe?

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Huge cuts in public funding for libraries in California

"Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed the FY12 California state budget on June 30, the last day of the fiscal year, and it contains a double dose of bad news for public library funding. The budget also contains massive cuts to the state's higher education system.
First, as expected, the budget cuts state funding for public libraries in half, to $15.2 million. This includes $3 million for the Public Library Fund (PLF), $3.7 million for the California Library Literacy and English Acquisition Service, and $8.5 million for the California Library Services Act (CLSA).
Second, a "trigger" amendment attached to the budget would eliminate all state funding for public libraries at midyear if the state's revenue projections are not being met. Funding for the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program and the California Newspaper Project administered by the state library would also be eliminated, which would bring the total midyear cut to $15.9 million."

No Time for Transparency or Public Input in Santa Clarita

Secrecy and a lack of transparency, now what does that remind you of, Croydon or Wokingham perhaps?

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Secret meetings and council silence on library sell-off


At Croydon Council it's starting to resemble something out of a Le Carre novel, clandestine meetings with shady characters and bluff and counter bluff! What ever happened to democratic accountability?

Friday, 24 June 2011

Bookworms in Wokingham fight to keep libraries public


"Council officers are looking for a partner to take over control of the borough’s 10 libraries in a bid to save £170,000 a year.
But the campaigners say the only way a private company will be able to make a profit will be to close libraries and increase charges for residents."

Croydon and Wandsworth hold exploratory talks with LSSI


"Mr Fisher told the Advertiser: "I have no problem with the chief executive meeting with LSSI. I didn't know the meeting was going ahead but I am pleased that it did."
Mr Fisher said the council would be talking over the next few weeks to "a whole host of people" who could have the potential to run the library service. He added: "When you start market testing like this you don't have to be a genius to realise that LSSI are coming to talk to us."

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Croydon and Wokingham Libraries to be run by LSSI?

"LSSI, which runs 16 public library systems in five US states, is currently wooing authorities with an attractive business model that promises increased community activity and invites Starbucks to set up inside branches. LSSI has spoken to “dozens of local authorities” over the past three years and held meetings with five councils last week, with Croydon becoming the latest borough to consider a deal. LSSI’s first contract is expected to start next May in Wokingham."
Read more: http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/253640/As-US-firm-seeks-to-run-beloved-institutions-are-we-at-risk-of-barbarism-As-US-firm-seeks-to-run-beloved-institutions-are-we-at-risk-of-barbarism-#ixzz1PkUgBys6

Friday, 17 June 2011

Wokingham start 'Competitive Dialogue' process in its bid to privatise libraries

"Competitive dialogue is a public-sector tendering option that allows for bidders to develop alternative proposals in response to a client’s outline requirements. Only when their proposals are developed to sufficient detail are tenderers invited to submit competitive bids. The aims are to increase value by encouraging innovation and to maintain competitive pressure in bidding for complex contracts.
Competitive dialogue was designed to facilitate all manner of complex purchases, from PFI hospitals to weapons systems, and its use on complex deals such as Building Schools for the Future (BSF) will have further implications for the attraction of PPP/PFI opportunities in the contractor marketplace."

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Privatising libraries will not work Tim Coates tells Croydon Council


"PRIVATISING libraries will not work and the Conservative council should be looking at better ways of cutting costs while all the libraries are open.
This was the clear message to emerge from an open meeting of Labour's shadow cabinet held on Monday and attended by campaigners who have fought library closures.
Predicting privatisation would not work, Mr Coates added: "There is no profit in it for anybody and there is no income because it has to be a free service."

The Service Employees International Union tries to stop California cities from outsourcing library services.


Friday, 10 June 2011

Row rages on in Wokingham over library outsourcing

"Under-fire council bosses have once again been forced to defend a decision to put the management of the borough’s libraries out to tender after fierce criticism from opposition politicians.
Councillor Prue Bray, leader of Wokingham Liberal Democrats, says she is “appalled” by a decision to allow a competitive dialogue process to go ahead. She believes this could result in a private company taking control of the area’s libraries from May 2012."

Monday, 6 June 2011

Proposals to outsource library services in Croydon and Wandsworth


"TOO cash-strapped to run its libraries itself, Croydon Council is setting about finding outsiders to do the job at reduced price.
Councillor Sara Bashford, cabinet member for culture and sport, announced on Wednesday that subject to cabinet approval on June 13, a "market testing" exercise would be launched in conjunction with Wandsworth to gauge interest in running library services in both boroughs.
The councils will entertain proposals from private companies, social enterprises, trusts and even other local authorities."

Friday, 3 June 2011

Californian Assembly makes it harder to privatise libraries

"Despite strong opposition from Republicans, the Assembly narrowly passed a union-backed bill to make cities and counties blow through a series of roadblocks before they can privatize their libraries.
Under Assembly Bill 438, library systems would have to:
• pick a contract after a competitive bidding process.
• give four straight weeks of public notice before enacting a change, doubling the current requirement.
• prove through a broad analysis that a switch away from the free public
library system saves the city or county money.
• show that the cost savings are not simply a factor of lower pay for the private company's employees.
• require an audit before hiring a library contractor charging more than $100,000 a year.
• ensure that the public employees don't lose their jobs."

Read more: http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2011/06/despite-strong-opposition-from.html#ixzz1OHoCqXEW

This is a big blow for LSSI, they have been lobbying hard to stop this bill. Congratulations to all at 'I Love Public Libraries' on their successful campaign!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Lessons for us all from Rhode Island?

The dangers of divestment are here for all of us to see! And I wonder if a private library company is waiting in the wings to take over and re-employ the staff on new contracts?


Friday, 27 May 2011

Privatisation plans for Wokingham Borough libraries approved

"PLANS to privatise libraries across the Wokingham borough were given the go ahead yesterday (Thursday).
Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the plans at the meeting. If a suitable company is found, services will not be outsourced until May next year."


Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Wokingham plan to privatise libraries

"Richard Alexander, libraries and information manager, said: "We continually see news concerning library closures in the press and on TV, but it is a different story altogether here in Wokingham.
"We are pleased the council's decision-making executive will consider these proposals next week which would, we believe, help secure the continued future of the community's library service, and enable us to undertake improvements we would otherwise struggle to achieve."

A very strange and worrying statement for a library professional to make! Is this why he went into the profession to oversee the privatisation of his library service?
I was contacted by a reporter from the Reading Chronicle asking if they could use my online comments in an article to be published this week, so there is obviously a lot of interest in the subject?

Saturday, 14 May 2011

LSSI, Santa Clarita and the AB438 Bill


“Much of the alarm comes from misinformation fomented by our critics,” Pezzanite said, adding: “All library policies, including those about fines and fees, are created by the communities we serve. LSSI does not set policies or own any library assets. . . . It is difficult to sit on the sidelines while our company is being attacked and not be able to respond to false and misleading information.”

The claim that "false and misleading information" is being used against them is ironic from a company that has hired lobbyists to spin its case against the AB438 Bill that if passed will require a county to hold a public vote before deciding to outsource or privatise their library system!

for background see;

Cartoon - Public Library v Private Library


Friday, 6 May 2011

The 'Plural Funding' debate!

LSSI for some years have been at the forefront of the argument to introduce 'plural funding', that is more private capital, into the public library system.
Their website http://www.pluralfunding.org/ outlines their thinking very clearly;
"The fundamental question is whether public libraries can follow the lead of museums, zoos, public broadcasters, performing arts organizations and others that view government as a funding partner, not as a sole source. In the Plural Funding Project, LSSI and a number of forward-thinking librarians, library-directors, and directors of library consortia have joined together to try to find the answer to this question - and to develop the tools and strategies libraries will need to pursue more diversified funding models."
The main instigator is Steve Coffman, Vice President East Coast, he is also responsible for developing 'virtual reference' models which LSSI, and others, use to cut their reference and information budgets!
For opposing views see http://www.haplr-index.com/restore_our_destiny.htm and http://fullorpluralfundingatpla.blogspot.com/

Blow to LSSI in California


The City of Stockton and San Joaquin County have agreed to keep their library service in public hands thwarting the plans put forward by LSSI.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

LSSI appoint Brad King as new CEO

Brad King was the CEO of SERCO's North American Operations, the same company who tried to block the RMT from balloting for strike action on the DLR recently, he will fit into LSSI's modus operandi perfectly!

Friday, 22 April 2011

Camden Labour say no to LSSI, John Laing and other private library companies

http://www.camdennewjournal.com/news/2011/apr/labour-pledge-not-sell-library-service-private-companies - Every Labour group across the country should make the same stand against privatising public libraries and send a clear message to LSSI et al that they are not welcome and not needed! Of course as is pointed out the new Localism Bill could soon make this decision illegal but it is still an important decision and one that is surely welcome in the current onslaught?

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

LSSI; the library workers' friend?

"Library employees are often the most resistant to his company, said Mr. Pezzanite, a co-founder of L.S.S.I. — and, he suggested, for reasons that only reinforce the need for a new approach.
“Pensions crushed General Motors, and it is crushing the governments in California,” he said. While the company says it rehires many of the municipal librarians, they must be content with a 401(k) retirement fund and no pension."
"A private firm that operates Jackson County's 15 libraries is being forced to recognize that a majority of its employees are members of a union to resolve a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board."
"LSSI paid most of our former workers close to their former wages, but hit them hard on benefits. They hired most of our former full time employees at 20 hours a week, and set the qualifying bar for health insurance at 30 hrs. week."
"To achieve profitability, Library Systems & Services typically slashes costs drastically, in part by replacing unionized workers. L.S.S.I. chief executive Frank Pezzanite told the New York Times that a lot of local libraries are, in his words, atrocious. "Their policies are all about job security," he said. "That's why the profession is nervous about us. You can [work at] a library for 35 years and never have to do anything and then have your retirement. We're not running our company that way. You come to us, you're going to have to work."
"The “slacks and trainers mentality” among librarians will be abolished, Mr Lynch says. In its place will be “a rigorous service culture”.
"There is a link there between de-unionisation, cutting costs and “the slacks and trainers mentality”.  The implication being that staff are the cause of the inefficiencies and if only the unions were removed from the equation, the future of the library service would be assured."
"4. Contract with LSSI
LSSI employees are usually not unionized, but
are paid a prevailing wage."

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Fascinating research re: library privatisation on the 'PrivatizationBeast' website

The Beast’s Business Model & What It Means for Your Library

The American Library Association has, so far, appeared cautious in its slowly evolving position on library privatization. This month, however, it looks like some ALA state chapters are beginning to take a stand against the Privatization Beast.
In this month’s Illinois Library Association journal, the ILA Reporter, librarian Meg Klinkow Hartmann examines the ethical and business cases for library privatization. In “Show Me the Money: Privatization and the Public Library,” Hartmann cites a doctoral thesis by Heather Hill that reviewed several LSSI contracts for library management in various parts of the country (note: many of these contracts are not easy to find). In Hill’s review of these contracts, she found several striking similarities:
  • A complete lack of contract language definining what a well-run library is and provides
  • A reduction of the public library to a commodity and patrons to customers
  • Contractual language stating that oversight of the contract is provided by an administrator under contract to the private company; in other words, LSSI oversees its own contract with the local government.
When LSSI moves into a library system, one of their first moves is to fire the staff and cherrypick staff to rehire at reduced cost (which, of course, comes out of reduced retirement security, health care benefits and wages). Hartmann points out that, in these cases, the library administrator is usually the only professional remaining, while paraprofessionals do the ‘bulk of the work’ in running the library. She adds:
“As to ethical concerns, a private company may decide to use or sell patron records for marketing purposes and feel no obligation to adhere to the ALA’s stand on retaining private information. Underserved populations may get short shrift, since the contractor will focus on easily achieved benchmarks of success. Sunshine laws do not apply in private industry. When the public good is not easily quantified, standards in collection development and services become prey to economics and the profit motive.”
Dollars and cents, as Hartmann points out, are in direct competition with the ethical underpinnings of the library profession. When push comes to shove, the company’s bottom line will always prevail.
If the ethical and professional arguments don’t convince you, Hartmann points to LSSI’s mixed record of success. At the LSSI-run libraries in Riverside, California, “unit cost for service delivery increased by 58 percent after an initial introduction.” In Fargo, North Dakota, LSSI was “delinquent in its bills and the contract was terminated.” It’s clear that turning over library management to a private company (or worse yet, an out-of-state company owned by a private equity firm, as in LSSI’s case) does not necessarily lead to cheaper services.
What can we do to stop efforts by LSSI and others to privatize public libraries? Hartmann’s advice is to be proactive. You can start by helping defend the public libraries of Santa Clarita, California, where the city council there is weighing the option of withdrawing from its freshly signed contract with LSSI. Let’s send Santa Clarita’s city council Hartmann’s message, that, “Where capitalism reigns, the benchmarks of success have little to do with community needs.” Libraries belong to the community, and should not be run for the profit of a private company.

Friday, 15 April 2011

LSSI and John Laing express interest in running Camden Libraries


LSSI have made a formal submission and John Laing are still considering their position. A full 'extraordinary' council meeting will be held on Monday 18/4/11 to discuss the issues.

"Jim Lynch, vice president of LSSI, confirmed that he had been looking at making a bid to manage the libraries on behalf of the Town Hall. 
He said: “We visited Camden libraries and  are doing some number crunching. We would be  interested in a management contract. We are confident that we can keep all branches open and sustain current opening hours whilst making significant financial savings."  

"Unison officer Philip Lewis said: “These private companies are like buzzards in the desert picking on the bones of public services. We oppose this. They must be publicly accountable.”
He added he feared that it would lead to hidden charges for users.
“These are private companies who have to turn a profit. It is not a philanthropic venture,” he said."

Monday, 11 April 2011

letter from LSSI to Sue McKenzie, Head of Libraries, Arts and Heritage, Brent


Brent wants to save £1m from its Libraries Budget and LSSI seem very keen to oblige, offering 'Big Society Management' for 6 of the smaller branches or the option of running fewer libraries.
They claim to have a "consulting relationship with one of the leading and most cost effective county library services in the UK" and "have secured the services of a well known library professional who was Head of Libraries and then interim Chief Executive for a large county council. He would then oversee the transition period and initial months of the contract"

Sunday, 10 April 2011

LSSI in the Washington Post

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/md-firm-to-take-over-3-calif-libraries-as-debate-grows-over-privatization/2011/03/31/AFbrbO2C_story.html - Santa Clarita library users don't want LSSI, they want a publicly funded accountable library system, or a not for profit trust, but the local authority wont listen as it sees this as a way of saving money and reneging on its responsibilities just like many authorities here. LSSI spends a lot of time, effort and money persuading authorities that privatisation is the only solution, but it is not.
for more information on the campaign against LSSI in California see http://savesantaclaritalibraries.wordpress.com/

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Response to FOI request re: correspondence between Suffolk council and LSSI


see also http://blog.hargrave.org.uk/2011/03/privatisation-big-threat-to-all.html and http://ariversideview.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/save-suffolks-libraries/ for some background

LSSI on Radio Merseyside

Very kindly sent to me by Shirley Burnham;

The boss of LSSI was on Radio Merseyside yesterday evening - main points, LSSI will offer a more cost-efficient service", making a profit "raises some sensitivity in the library sector", aims to cut back-office by giving all its work to suppliers, use economies of scale, not necessarily cut staff (just move staff from back to front office), good enough for 16 clients (70 branches) in USA.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/p00fqj8k (24.11 to 28 minutes)

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Models for the Alternative Governance & Outsourcing of Public Libraries - CILIP

http://www.cilip.org.uk/outsourcing2011/Pages/default.aspx - taking place in May and June this CILIP Executive Briefing looks at models for alternative governance and outsourcing. The afternoon session is given over to speakers from the private sector and guess who has been invited, speakers from LSSI and John Laing!
I would love to attend but unfortunately, or fortunately, I am not an executive!

Monday, 28 March 2011

LSSI eyes Northern Ireland


“We are giving it serious consideration, and if there’s evidence that suggests it’s a viable option, then we would be over there like a shot,” Mr Fitzgerald said. “When we take control of a library, we don’t own the building or the shelves, and we don’t badge staff. We have been running libraries in the US for 30 years, and want to take this effective model to this part of Europe. We plan to work closely with councils – for instance if an area has poor children’s literacy levels, we would aim to curb that, and also help spread health messages in other areas, where poor health is an issue. This would be part of the income process."

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

LSSI the 'privatization beast'!

http://privatizationbeast.org/ - great video and campaigning site from Save Santa Clarita Libraries and the Service Employees Internation Union. I am in regular contact with the campaign and they are putting up a good fight.

Monday, 14 March 2011

LSSI's UK aspirations mentioned in 'American Libraries' magazine


"With British firms also expected to bid for library contracts, Stuart Fitzgerald, LSSI’s U.K. vice president, told the Independent, “It’s not impossible to imagine a mixed market economy for libraries that will raise overall standards and encourage further competition.”
"In response, ALA President Stevens said that private-sector firms “cannot guarantee the same level of transparency. Local authorities have to be absolutely clear on the terms of contract when entering into these deals. British taxpayers risk losing their own tax pounds to American firms.”

Thursday, 10 March 2011

The Darth Vader of the Industry?

http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA456252.html - came across this fascinating and comprehensive article published in 2004 by the Library Journal, it basically outlines how LSSI make their money and who advises them.

 “[But] I get the impression from time to time that we’re considered to be the Darth Vader of the industry.”  Frank  Pezzanite

John Laing and Hounslow

http://www.hounslowchronicle.co.uk/west-london-news/local-hounslow-news/2011/02/14/hundreds-of-hounslow-residents-sign-libraries-petition-109642-28168735/ - also relating to this see http://alangibbons.net/?p=7931#comments and http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/fees_contractually_due_to_john_l
It also seems that the Reading Agency have recently received a donation from John Laing! What next CILIP excepting money from private library companies! see http://www.readingagency.org.uk/media/Reading%20Agency%20-%20February%202011.html

John Laing donation
THANK YOU: We are very grateful to Michelle Morley who has given us a donation of £1000. Every year John Laing has an internal awards initiative and this year Michelle won the Operations Award for Corporate Social Responsibility for her work with the Summer Reading Challenge volunteering programme in Hounslow libraries.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

LSSI thwarted in the Nevadas!

http://sierravoices.com/tag/library_outsourcing/ - a very interesting blog from the US featuring lots of illuminating materials on LSSI and its failed attempt to privatise libraries in Nevada and elsewhere!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Slacks and trainers mentality - the real issue at the heart of todays modern public library service!

"The "slacks and trainers mentality" among librarians will be abolished, Mr Lynch says. In its place will be "a rigorous service culture".
"Mr Fitzgerald insists that book borrowing will remain free, while peripheral services, such as coffee shops, IT centres and bookshops, could be added. "This is not selling off the crown jewels," he says. "It is about putting the library in the hands of experts who will remain answerable to the council at all times."

Saturday, 5 March 2011

CILIP and LSSI - a conflict of interests?

http://www.cilip.org.uk/archive/archive2010/pla2010/Pages/default.aspx - the 2010 Public Library Authorities Conference organised by CILIP was sponsored by LSSI and John Laing, two private library management companies sponsoring a public library conference, call me naive but I personally find this to be an incredible conflict of interests? And by the way the title of the conference was "What future for public libraries in the age of austerity", you couldn't make it up could you?
In fact CILIP has had representatives from LSSI at a number of its past and future briefings;
Would the BMA have a private healthcare company sponsoring their conference?

Santa Clarita Libraries and the battle against LSSI


"Save Santa Clarita Libraries was formed to help inform, empower, and organize the citizens of Santa Clarita and all people who enjoy public libraries and oppose their privatization and the sale of our personal information.
We oppose the City of Santa Clarita’s proposal to turn operation of the Newhall, Valencia, and Canyon Country libraries over to LSSI for many reasons."

The campaign is basing its legal challenge to the LSSI takeover on the following basis "LSSI cannot demand library patrons’ private information as a condition of continuing library privileges."

US Firm can save country's libraries from the Whitney Gazette


"LSSI, a 30-year-old family-run firm, manages 70 libraries across the US where it has installed self-issue technology, instant print machines, coffee shops and adult education initiatives."
"Mr Fitzgerald said the firm would look at cutting staffing and management costs but could not be specific as it had not spoken with the council."

Friday, 4 March 2011

Vickim57 blog - response from Stuart St V Fitzgerald

http://vickim57.blogspot.com/2011/01/barnet-council-in-talks-with-private.html - interesting and revealing response by Stuart St V Fitzgerald from LSSI, and I quote
"Please have faith in me and in LSSI - we only improve library services wherever we go." Oh yeh! like Florida, Linden and Fargo?

LSSI eyes up Oxfordshire


Suffolk: US firm interested in running county's libraries



Library Services and Systems (LSSI) are an US based library outsourcing company. The company was formed by Frank and Judy Pezzanite in 1981 and is now majority owned by Islington Capital Partners, a Boston based private equity firm.
They claim to be the fifth largest private library company in the US, but even this claim has been disputed. Their operations in the US have come under severe scrutiny and they are now looking to capitalise on the situation in the UK. Their UK office is fronted by two ex-audit commission inspectors, Stuart St. V Fitzgerald and Jim Lynch and they have been very active in selling their services to cash strapped authorities up and down the country.
You may ask yourself "what's the problem"? Well apart from public libraries being a statutory 'public' service in the UK and all that that entails, accountability, professionalism, funding and issues surrounding the ethos etc etc, LSSI make their money by hiring non-unionised staff, not providing pensions, deprofessionalising and basically paring the service down to its bones.
“A lot of libraries are atrocious,” Mr. Pezzanite said. “Their policies are all about job security. That’s why the profession is nervous about us. You can go to a library for 35 years and never have to do anything and then have your retirement. We’re not running our company that way. You come to us, you’re going to have to work.”
"The company claims that service will improve, and yet it also plans to reduce salaries and benefits and eliminate two professionally certified librarians," she said. "It's like LSSI doesn't understand that good librarians are the heart of a successful library system."