Thursday, 29 March 2012

Croydon update! - Croydon have spent £40k on a 'Project Manager' to oversee the privatisation of their library service, the strange thing is they forgot to make it public!
- an excellent article listing the shortlisted companies for the library contract in Croydon and councils less than scrupulous dealings with them!

Are Privatized Public Libraries So Bad? - The Atlantic Cities - 28/03/12

"I'll admit, to me, the idea of a privatized public library has a certain dystopian ring to it, the ultimate public space corrupted for a profit. That image was not much aided by my first (and second and third) call to Library System and Services Inc., the only library privatization company in the United States. LSSI now runs at least 15 library systems in California, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas. This means it is, effectively, the fifth largest library system in the country."

see comments on this article, a very interesting debate going on!

Saturday, 24 March 2012

The chair of ACE told to step down, a political decision?

There was quite a lot of criticism from library folk about the decision to hand the public libraries portfolio to ACE, it was seen by many as a deliberate attempt to sideline libraries. Very recently there has been another twist in the story, Jeremy Hunt has now told Liz Forgan, the current chair of ACE, to step down after only spending one term in the post!
This is seen by many to be a political decision as Forgan is perceived to be left of centre, was appointed by Labour and is the chair of the Scott Trust, which owns the Guardian and the Observer! Hunt wants to appoint someone with experience of private funding as he sees this as a future priority for ACE. A worrying sign of things to come?

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Pomona rejects outsourcing of library management - Contra Costa Times - 20/3/12

"POMONA -- After listening to residents speak in support of the Pomona Public Library and its employees Monday evening, City Council members rejected a proposal to pursue the outsourcing of library management services. "

"Maryland-based Library Systems & Services conducted an initial analysis of the Pomona Public Library's operations and determined it could operate the library for about $1.43 million, saving the city $160,000 compared to the current fiscal year's costs, according to a city staff report."

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

And the shortlisted bidders for the Croydon/Wandsworth library contract are.....!

Have just heard that LSSI are one of the shortlisted bidders for the Croydon/Wandsworth library contract, along with Civica, Essex CC, Greenwich Leisure Trust and John Laing.

LSSI are a US based private library company who have recently set up office in the UK with a view to gaining 15% of the market.
Civica - "Civica supplies libraries with managed services and computer systems automating stock ordering, lending and tracking systems including the supply of remote access to library catalogues. Civica manages the library systems for the Government of Singapore’s Future Schools initiative. In the UK, Civica provides tailored library services for the eleven library services that are members of the South East Library Management Services (SELMS) consortium – with over three million library users in the region. In total, the group manages over 1,500 libraries world-wide." Wikipedia
Essex CC currently manage the library services for Slough and Southend & Thurrock.
Greenwich Leisure Trust are bidding to manage Greenwich Libraries but their plans have been halted see
John Laing Integrated Services Ltd run Hounslow libraries which is currently the only UK public library service under private contract.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Private firm that wants to run Simi library gets high marks, opposition - The Ventura County Star - 14/03/12

"The Maryland company that wants to run Simi Valley's library would do so over the objections of a county employees union and many residents.
Yet Library Systems & Services gets high marks from the cities of Moorpark and Camarillo, which hired the company to take over their libraries."


Wednesday, 14 March 2012

A mutually beneficial arrangement?

LSSI, the US based private library firm, have an office in London at 80 Borough High Street which just happens to be the same address as Sue Hill Recruitment, "a specialist employment agency to the UK information sector, and market research, insight and analysis"
Sue Hill have been involved in the public library recruitment business for years and are widely known and respected and LSSI are looking to snap up public library contracts in the UK!
Dig a little deeper and the relationship becomes clearer!

On 7th June 2010 Sue Hill and LSSI, among others, attended an executive briefing hosted by CILIP (yes CILIP!) entitled 'Alternative Governance and Outsourcing of Public Libraries', in fact they both talk with glowing terms about the day on Sue Hill's blog, Stuart St V Fitzgerald, Vice President of LSSI UK Ltd, even invites interested parties to "consider.....a trip to California and Oregon on one of our study tours"
On 10 Sept 2010 a job advert appeared on JISCMail, an academic on line mailing list, for a
Collection Development Specialist ref 12884P - Saudi Arabia with LSSI UK Ltd as the employer
and Sue Hill as the recruiters!

In fact the relationship is so special that Stuart St V Fitzgerald has Sue Hill Recruitment on his Linkedin profile!

Even that esteemed satirical blog 'CoatesWatch' picked up on the intrigue stating "LSSI's British operation (which intriguingly shares a London office address with the Sue Hill employment agency) has been making overtures to several British library authorities, hoping for easy pickings"
I find all this very interesting don't you?

Friday, 9 March 2012

Union which defeated outsourcing tells its story - Barnet Today - 08/03/12
"A PUBLIC sector union which convinced a local authority to scrap plans to outsource a raft of services at the 11th hour has come to Barnet to tell its story.

At Barnet Unison’s annual general meeting last Thursday John Stevenson, president of the Edinburgh branch, told members how they successfully lobbied councillors to reject the proposals, breaking a coalition council in the process."

Outsourcing Public Libraries | The Kojo Nnamdi Show
Public libraries offer free services many patrons consider invaluable. But as communities struggle to "do more with less" some seek to save by outsourcing the management of their libraries.
Listen to this great discussion about the privatization of public libraries....LSSI was invited to participate but declined.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Wokingham's proposals to privatise it's libraries moves a step closer!
"Wokingham Borough Council has voted to move to the tendering stage of the process.
It hopes to save £170,000 by outsourcing the management of 10 public libraries across the borough
£170,000 is a tiny saving in the overall scheme of the council's budget, so the decision to privatise is ideological not economical!
"Councillor UllaKarin Clark, executive member for internal services, pointed out at a meeting of the executive on Thursday, February 23, that when the bids are considered in June the council will be able to pull out of the process if it wants to"
It's not only the council who can choose to pull out, whoever the contract is awarded too may also pull out if the deal is not as profitable as they envisaged, there maybe a penalty for doing so but a private firm won't run a service at a loss for too long! This could leave the service and the community high and dry?

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Oceanside library outsourcing a no-go - The San Diego Union-Tribune - 29/02/12

"A proposal in Oceanside to outsource library operations to save money may be finished before it officially began, after a councilman told city administrators last week that he wasn’t interested in the idea."
"In memos sent to the City Council in January, City Manager Peter Weiss said private company Library Services and Systems Inc., or LSSI, estimated it could save the city $300,000 to $400,000 annually."
“I don’t know, maybe they can save us $300,000 or $400,000, but the quality that we’ve come to know from the library even with the cuts they’ve taken already, I’m thinking that I’m just not willing to forsake that,” Feller said in an interview."