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;!/notes/lori-rivas/city-hall-seems-to-be-changing-history-the-signal-9411-footnoted-edition/10150271867536090!/SaveSCVPublicLibraries
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.