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."