Saturday, 29 December 2012

Croydon - Heading for Judicial Review - Save Croydon Libraries - 20/12/12

"Despite a cloak of secrecy, it's clear that Laing (JLLS) were the most likely bidder to be awarded the contract for Croydon Libraries. Many saw this as a done deal. Given the details and terms of the contract now known it would be hard to argue that Croydon didn't pave the way for the JLIS bid."

"The fight is not over and we may now need to go to judicial review."

UKIP joins forces with Labour for library judicial review - Inside Croydon - 18/12/12

"Croydon’s Conservative-run council is forcing through policies that are so unpopular that the local Labour group is joining forces with UKIP to oppose them.
This unlikely political alliance has come about to seek a judicial review of Croydon Council’s decision to hand over the borough’s 13 public libraries to a subsidiary of the building firm, John Laing."

"According to library campaigner Elizabeth Ash, the terms of the library outsourcing contract being offered to JLIS are to maintain the existing service, but the “service that has been run into the ground since before the consultation began, with huge loss of staff, greatly depleted book stock, and lack of service in our libraries as staff are often ill-equipped and untrained.
“The strain this has placed on our original staff, and on those new trying to fulfil the role, must be immense,” Ash said.
“What we know, if this contract goes ahead, is that the terms and conditions of our remaining staff will be maintained, as they have no alternative … but there is no commitment to keep the many staff we understand are on short-term contract, so new staff can be taken on with lesser qualifications, pay and conditions,” said the Sanderstead resident."

Monday, 24 December 2012

562 Public Library jobs lost in London since 2007/8

The following is just a very basic breakdown of the data relating to staffing and volunteers in London's Public Libraries, 2007/8 to 2011/12, from the latest Public Libraries Profiles sponsored by the DCMS and recently published by CIPFA. The City of London isn't included and i can only assume that they are one of the 4 authorities that CIPFA are hoping to release data on in the new year?

According to my calculations 562 full time library posts have been cut between 2007/8 and 2011/12, i can't tell from this how many cut were professional staff due the data not being broken down for 2007/8.
Funnily enough i was looking back over the London Library Change Programme documentation the other day specifically at the 'Workforce Benchmarking Study' which looked at ways (shared services, collaboration/partnerships) of cutting the 2006/7 London Libraries workforce of 3,900 FTE's by 10%, coincidence or hitting targets?

The authorities with the biggest cuts are Bromley with 54.5 staff lost and Bexley with 48.7 and the lowest are Waltham Forest with 2.9 and Hammersmith and Fulham with 4, believe it or not there are actually 6 authorities that report an increase and they are Camden, Hounslow, Lambeth, Barking & Dagenham, Havering and Lambeth with a whopping 46.7 increase!

Apart from the actual numbers lost the other thing that really jumps out from these figures is the deprofessionialisation of the service, Newham for 2011/12 record 2 professional staff and there are others with only 4/5! How can you run a comprehensive and efficient, statutory public service with only 2 professional staff?
In relation to volunteers no surprises that Merton, considering it is the flagship for the Mayor's Team London 'Library Champions' project, comes top with 539 closely followed by Lewisham with 336, three authorities Islington, Hammersmith & Fulham and Greenwich all record 0 figures for this! I'm not sure how this figure is calculated, do they include volunteers who assist (or run) the 'reading challenges', homework clubs, IT sessions etc or is it just purely volunteers who have replaced paid staff?

Obviously these are the figures up untill 2011/12 i would take an educated guess that the staffing levels will be even lower and volunteer levels even higher when the next set are published, if they are?

Staff 2007/8 133 2011/12 68 (20 professional, 48 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 0 2011/12 10

Staff 2007/8 135 2011/12 144.9 (16 prof, 128.9 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 0 2011/12 12

Staff 2007/8 140 2011/12 123.4 (18.7 prof, 104.7 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 0 2011/12 29

Staff 2007/8 123.5 2011/12 99.5 (18 prof, 81.5 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 38 2011/12 26

Staff 2007/8 113.8 2011/12 79.9 (30.2 prof, 49.7 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 8 2011/12 63

Staff 2007/8 94.3 2011/12 96.5 (10.5 prof, 86 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 11 2011/12 14

Hammersith & Fulham
Staff 2007/8 90 2011/12 86 (5 prof, 81 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 0 2011/12 0

Staff 2007/8 101.2 2011/12 81.3 (7 prof, 74.3 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 0 2011/12 0

Staff 2007/8 109.8 2011/12 112 (9 prof, 103 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 1 2011/12 2

Staff 2007/8 105.3 2011/12 152 (27 prof, 125 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 3 2011/12 336

Staff 2007/8 61.5 2011/12 47 (4 prof, 43 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 31 2011/12 539

Staff 2007/8 171.8 2011/12 117.3 (15.4 prof, 101.9 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 58 2011/12 167

Staff 2007/8 111 2011/12 78.5 (20 prof, 58.5 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 29 2011/12 35

Staff 2007/8 124.4 2011/12 98.4 (26.7 prof, 71.7 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 0 2011/12 0

Kensington & Chelsea
Staff 2007/8 111.5 2011/12 84.8 (18.5 prof, 66.3 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 21 2011/12 40

Staff 2007/8 127 2011/12 103.4 (2 prof, 103.4 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 20 2011/12 181

Staff 2007/8 114.5 2011/12 108 (22 prof, 86 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 14 2011/12 55

Staff 2007/8 110 2011/12 89.5 (15 prof, 74.5 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 156 2011/12 100

Staff 2007/8 83.5 2011/12 69 (13 prof, 56 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 18 2011/12 105

Tower Hamlets
Staff 2007/8 131.4 2011/12 122.7 (4 prof, 118.7 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 20 2011/12 14

Staff 2007/8 127.4 2011/12 110.8 (37.4 prof, 73.4 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 67 2011/12 79

Staff 2007/8 145.1 2011/12 139.4 (31 prof, 108.4 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 88 2011/12 313

Staff 2007/8 113.8 2011/12 108 (20 prof, 88 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 0 2011/12 14

Waltham Forest
Staff 2007/8 75.9 2011/12 73 (5.8 prof, 67.2 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 0 2011/12 4

Barking & Dagenham
Staff 2007/8 65.3 2011/12 71.2 (12.7 prof, 58.5 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 0 2011/12 41

Staff 2007/8 157 2011/12 122.5 (48 prof, 74.5 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 38 2011/12 28

Staff 2007/8 138 2011/12 89.3 (15.8 prof, 73.5 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 110 2011/12 184

Staff 2007/8 134.5 2011/12 100.4 (22 prof, 78.4 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 25 2011/12 245

Staff 2007/8 143 2011/12 128 (23 prof, 105 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 31 2011/12 117

Staff 2007/8 96 2011/12 104 (9 prof, 95 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 96 2011/12 200

Staff 2007/8 125.5 2011/12 97.6 (10.6 prof, 87.1 other)
Volunteers 2007/8 17 2011/12 24

Sunday, 23 December 2012

The Society of Chief Librarians and the Chief Leisure Officers Association

I've been asked to explain my view on the link between the SCL and the CLOA and why i think this relationship has had a significant bearing on the development of the role of Public Libraries and the way they are perceived by the public, the profession and government, so here goes albeit briefly;

The Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) is a membership organisation made of all the Local Authority Chief Librarians in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It was formed in 1996 and describes it's role as thus;

"SCL takes a leading role in the development of public libraries, through sharing best practices, advocating for continuous improvement on behalf of local people, and leading the debate on the future of the public library service. Public libraries operate in a fast-changing world and are responding to this challenge imaginatively in communities across the UK. SCL works to ensure that this community-based contribution to national and local strategies is recognised and developed.
SCL supports chief librarians by providing regional networks that allow them to discuss current issues and concerns in a confidential environment. These regional networks also work closely with partners within their regions to deliver real benefits to services and customers such as cheaper procurement of services and easy access to books across all libraries in a region."

The current SCL President is Janene Cox, Commissioner for Culture, Leisure & Tourism, Staffordshire County Council. The history of the SCL talks of Chief and County Librarians but you will be hard pushed to find any mention of Librarian in many of the job titles of the new bunch!

The SCL, in my view, have developed very close links with the Chief Leisure Officers Association (CLOA) which describes its role as thus;

"The Chief Cultural & Leisure Officers Association (cCLOA) exclusively represents senior strategic leaders managing public sector cultural, tourism and sport services. It works closely with central government and key national organisations to influence the development of national policies and to lobby for positive change in the cultural and leisure sectors. It is also a founder and leading member of the National Culture Forum."

The current CLOA Chair is Richard Hunt, Head of Service Development (Culture, Sport and Communities) Adult and Community Services, Suffolk County Council, his remit covers libraries, archives, arts, museums, sports, culture and tourism! In fact Richard Hunt, the Chair, Iain Varah, the Vice Chair and John Bell, the Honorary Secretary, all have, or have had at one time, libraries as part of their professional remits!

Under 'Current Issues' on the CLOA website you'll find "Future direction for arts, museums and libraries." and on the micro-site for CLOA London it states;

"London cCLOA is currently involved in two projects in London
Team London Libraries Project
A £100K community development project centred on strengthening local communities and civic engagement through increasing volunteering in Libraries. This project is funded by the GLA and the following boroughs are participating in a fast track pilot: Croydon, Redbridge, Waltham Forest, Barnet, Ealing, Enfield, Hackney, Havering, Tri Borough (shared service) and Bromley/ Bexley (shared service) The project will produce toolkits and best practice guidance in the summer of 2012 and will support other boroughs through a formal peer to peer programme from September 2012."

their general view on the situation facing Public Libraries can be gleaned from the following document and its title!;

CLOA and the Public Library Service

Crisis or opportunity?
SCL and CLOA members attend some of the same meeting/forums and both meet regularly with representatives of ACE, DCMS, LGA, London Councils etc, CLOA London publishes agendas and notes from their meetings but you'll be hard pressed to find these for the SCL!
So the SCL and CLOA have a close relationship, so what?

Well in my own opinion this relationship can be seen most clearly in the way that the majority of councils position their library services within their departmental and directorate structure, more often than not libraries are lumped in with leisure, arts and culture or anything else other than education and learning!
This change in perception and focus makes it easier for councils, government departments and agencies to renege on their statutory duties through divestment and/or by telling the profession that their job can be done by anyone, anytime and anywhere, after all it's only another leisure option!
In my view this is not coincidental but part of a deliberate neoliberal agenda to position libraries within the leisure, arts and culture market making them more attractive to private financiers, 'Social Enterprises' and the like or as i touched on in the last paragraph just easier to cut,  'hollow out' or divest. Look at the privatisation of Greenwich and Wandsworth's library services to sports/leisure specialist Greenwich Leisure Ltd and the 'Localism' agenda with it's 'Right to Bid' and 'Community Asset Transfer' spin offs!

This isn't by any means the full story, there's the cuts to ACE and DCMS funding, the fact that ACE funding to libraries is based around creating partnerships with arts organisations, the role of consultants and attitudes within the library profession itself, but that's a whole new blog post!
I'll finish with a quote from a recent article on libraries by Jeannette Winterson;
"When we look back at the latest cuts in Newcastle, we can see where this confusion starts – "Libraries, leisure and culture". But culture is not leisure – though you need leisure to pursue culture – and libraries are not leisure in the way that a sports centre is leisure. Libraries began with the highest purpose in mind – to educate through the agency of a book. The first public libraries were aspirational and proud. Libraries were not community centres with books in the way."

Monday, 17 December 2012

Judicial Review - Save Croydon Libraries - 17/12/12

A message from Save Croydon Libraries;

It seems clear that the intention is that Laing (JLLS) were to be awarded the contract for Croydon Libraries. This is likely to take some time as scrutiny applied extra conditions to the contract which will need to be negotiated with Laing and there may be other delays to come, should any of the bidders wish to challenge the process. Residents have been advised that the decision needs to go back to the full council in any case, which won't be until January now.
The fight is not over and we may now need to go to judicial review. We cannot do this until the final announcement is made but this does not stop us considering all options before this time. We would not proceed unless we had a very good case but from all the campaign knows we have a case on several key points.  We need a group of residents to take this forward to explore further.

Support for a judicial review has already been indicated by Croydon Labour and now UKIP. The fact that so many Conservative Councillors called in the decision indicates unrest within the party pushing the outsourcing through.

Please get in touch if you can help.  We need people to stand up to be counted or we will lose the library service we so value. It is clearly not to late to rebuild what we have lost but we must not let it deteriorate any further. Check out what Laing have done to Hounslow Libraries if you are in any doubt.  

What we know, if this contract goes ahead, is that the terms and conditions of our remaining staff will be maintained, as they have no alternative under TUPE, but there is no commitment to keep the many staff we understand are on short term contract, so new staff can be taken on with lesser qualifications, pay and conditions.

The terms of the contract are to maintain the existing service - a service that has been run into the ground since before the consultation began, with huge loss of staff, greatly depleted book stock, and lack of service in our libraries as staff are often ill-equipped and untrained.  The strain this has placed on our original staff, and on those new trying to fulfil the role, must be immense.

Many residents are still unaware of the plans. Thanks to all who have sent a constant stream of information to the Campaign in the form of observations, comments and photos.

We need to mobilise.  Please get in touch! 



Save Croydon Libraries Campaign

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

PFI-Perfidious Financial Idiocy - Question Everything - 8/12/12

By the ever excellent Ruby Malvolio from his ever excellent 'Question Everything' website;

"If Newcastle City Council want to blame anyone for having to cut libraries I think they have to look at themselves mainly, going for the neo-liberal wonga option will haunt them for many years to come. "

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Council forced to report monthly on Laing library performance - Inside Croydon - 9/12/12

"It took a special meeting at the Town Hall last week to insist that the management of Croydon’s public libraries should be monitored monthly, rather than the annual reporting period proposed by the Conservative-run council as its privatises the service under a £30 million, eight-year contract for John Laing Integrated Services.
With such a new way of running the borough’s 13 public libraries, regular monitoring of Laing’s performance will provide a vital safeguard for the interests of Council Tax-payers, who own the properties and whose money will be used to pay for Laing’s management."

Although i agree with the comments above about monthly monitoring being a safeguard i really doubt if Laing will agree to this and wether those in the council analysing the data, which might not be worth the paper its written on, will really know what to look for except for increases in issues and the user count and as we all know this doesn't give the full picture!
Also the library staff will be put under a huge amount of pressure, as they are in Hounslow, to hit performance targets otherwise Laing will be penalised.
This is of course a move which is in direct contrast to LSSI's secrecy in the US where they have recently lost a contract due to their lack of transperancy over profit margins etc.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Bid to halt Croydon libraries handover is defeated - Croydon Today - 7/12/12

"NEGOTIATIONS to finalise the contract which will see Laing Integrated Services take over the running of Croydon's libraries are to resume.
They were put on hold after a decision by the council's corporate services committee to choose Laing as the preferred bidder for the eight year contract was called in for consideration by the scrutiny committee.
Call-ins came from both the Conservative and Labour groups but Wednesday's scrutiny committee agreed that both should simply be noted, putting negotiations back on track."

Barwell and 'Book Token' Bashford

More great reporting on the Croydon Libraries sham by the ever excellent 'Inside Croydon'.

"This is one for filing under the heading “This could only happen in Croydon”.
Sara Bashford: not highly rated by her council colleagues
Sara Bashford: not highly rated by her council colleagues
Last night in the public question time element of the council meeting at the Town Hall, we had the Alice in Wonderland situation where a question was put by one supposed public servant who works for Conservative MP Gavin Barwell, to be answered by a councillor who also works for Gavin Barwell MP, all presided over by another who works for Gavin Barwell MP.
What you had was Mario Creatura, who is paid out of public funds to work for the Croydon Central MP, putting a patsy question to his Barwell-employed colleague, Sara “Book Token” Bashford, all overseen by a meeting chairman, Eddy Arram, who has continued to work for Barwell despite the demands and duties of his year as Mayor.
The question was no more than an exercise in providing an easy platform for a chum who in recent months was stripped of her responsibilities for culture, sport and, significantly, the woefully mishandled libraries. Katharine Street insiders suggest that Book Token was fortunate to keep hold of the £40,000-plus per year council allowances which go with her place in the council cabinet, so poorly is she regarded within the Conservative group at the Town Hall.
The Creatura question read: “I have heard Councillor Bashford talk before…” across the desks in Barwell’s Wickham Road office perhaps? “… about social value, but I would like to know what benefit she thinks it will give to Croydon and how she will ensure it is not just used as a way to award contracts to an organisation that doesn’t offer the lowest price.”
No mention of handing over Croydon’s libraries and a 30 million quid contract to the builders at Laings, but it was transparent that this was an effort to allow Bashford to spin the decision.
Bashford’s response actually had the gall to state, “Croydon Council continues its commitment to pursuing best value for money for the people of Croydon through its Commissiong Strategy.” Is she that deluded?"

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Extreme Income Generation, the new reality?

I recently ventured over to Kilburn Library Centre, one of Camden's finest, and was rather taken aback by a public notice pinned to the wall which basically said that if a user forgets their membership card number and asks a member of staff for it they will be charged £1 with "no exceptions"!

I can only imagine the management discussion around this;

"You know how we've cut the staff"
"and the staff we do have are so busy dealing with problems with the self serve machines and everything a team of 6 used to do but now with only 2 and the public have to hunt around or wait longer to speak to one of them"
"Yeah Yeah"
"why don't we piss the public off even more and charge them if they forget their membership numbers"
"oh that's brilliant"

And guess what it's not listed on their web pages as a library charge, funny that!

How many other authorities are penalising their users like this?

The 'hollowing out' of Waltham Forest Libraries - A guest post by Nancy Taaffe

I asked Nancy Taaffe to write a guest post for me on the 'hollowing out' of Waltham Forest Libraries. Nancy worked for the Library Service for 10 years and then along with 1000's of other Library Workers in the country she lost her job, she's a Socialist Party Member and a TUSC candidate and is part of the Save Wood Street Library campaign group.
Nancy has some very strong views on the failure of Unison to defend the service and its workers which some might take issue with but in the interests of free speech I think it's important to publish her views.
I have a personal interest in this as i worked for Waltham Forest Libraries when i was 18/19 and remember a professionally staffed and well resourced service but sadly those days have gone!

In 2010  Waltham Forest Labour controlled council voted through budget cuts that amounted to £65 million.

I lost my job in Janurary 2012, along with 20 other people, I worked in the Library Services for over 10 years. As a consequence of these cuts all the small libraries in the borough are now closed two days a week and the library service has been merged with other departments.
Managements tactics were designed to fool the public as to what was actually being proposed and confuse oppositional elements in the community - they didn't fool us.
The proposals brought the whole of the Library service under a new generic and all encompassing directorate misnamed "Residents First" . This new "Residents First" department they said would be delivered from library buildings, in effect keeping the shell of the service ie the building, but completely destroying the library service within.
The senior managers who drove through these cuts  have subsequently had their pay increased, whilst older, more experienced and more expensive staff have been made compulsory redundant. A whole army of cheap, casual labour has been recruited to implement these new services, I'm told by a former a colleague that adult social care and children's services are soon to be delivered out of library buildings. The library service is being  cannibalised from all angles and the leaders of the trade unions ,despite the members wishes, have not led a fightback.

I was a  Unison library steward and joint convener for the department  for most of my time in Libraries.  We  tried to fightback ,  I ran an indicative ballot in August 2011, the summer before we lost our jobs and 95% of the membership voted in favour of strike action to stop the job cuts. Unison's  leadership in London prevaricated, dragged their heels etc  and the momentum was lost. Like so much of Unison's non- strategy, they missed the moment, either deliberately  or otherwise and the right time to fight back passed. This  strategy of "waiting for a Labour Government"  has been unmitigated disaster- 375, 000 people have lost their jobs. 
The failure to lead a battle around compulsory redundancies within Unison has allowed managers  to drive a layer of activists and socialists like myself out of their jobs and out of the trade unions- thus silencing critical voices. I am currently taking my case to an employment tribunal,representing myself as Unison failed to even help me with that.

I not only worked in Libraries but I believed in them,  I saw my job as worthwhile and important - I didn't always enjoy my job but I felt useful, not an easy thing to feel. I believe that within the library service the kernel of how learning, reading and culture could be,  is to be found . Stripped bare, Libraries represent the nationalisation of  books and information and considering the antipathy towards nationalisation it's amazing they've lasted so long. In all my time in Libraries I felt like people were apologising for still existing, particularly in discussions with managers and councillors. I always categorically refused to apologise.

As a life long Socialist I firmly believe that it doesn't have to be like this. There is £800 billion stashed away in the banks,  if we released that money and immediately ploughed it back into the infrastructure, libraries could benefit from a renaissance.  The enthusiasm for them is deep within the publics'  consciousness and the esteem in which they are held probably equates with the NHS. No wonder JK Rowling described the Library service as "The NHS for the mind". New technology need not be used to undermine Libraries or be an excuse to merge them.  If we had a far sighted government we could be part of a national literacy strategy which truly worked in tandem with educational establishments and enthusiastically pioneered reading for pleasure.

Libraries by their very nature are non coercive places, generally no-one makes you use a library , look at the way children enjoy libraries, many of them in a way that they don't enjoy school.
Library buildings are often rooted in working class communities, people see them as a feature of the landscape no matter how bleak that landscape may be. They sometimes seemed to me like those stone churches built on the edge of cliffs on Greek Islands or on the top of Scottish mountains.  They seemed to have weathered the most hostile of terrains and somehow always survived . I read somewhere that there are more libraries in working class areas than branches of McDonald's and more people visit Libraries throughout any one Saturday than visit football matches- I'm not sure how true that is but it feels like it is.

 All of human life can found within them. I've seen people have nervous break downs in libraries, I've helped women find out how to  flee domestic violence, I've phoned elderly readers who lived alone and I haven't seen for a bit.  I've watched street kids unknowingly self educate themselves and helped numerous people starting out on various courses find their way around.  I've run reading groups, assisted school visits, listen to children read  and have become so obsessed with enquiries that I've pursued books and information on behalf of a reader for over a week! All of the things that I have listed above are social acts, the reader could have done these things themselves but it is the social provision of information and literature that make libraries libraries.
 Human beings are social animals and will always gravitate towards others to share experiences, the ebook and Internet may have blossomed but so too have spoken word performances, book clubs, poetry nights and literary festivals.

I was a late reader, I sometimes think that accounts for my ropey spelling and poor grammar but it was the existence of Mildmay Library that allowed me to read in my own way and in my own time, free from the red pen of a teacher and provide the space for me to do so. I will feel forever grateful.
The Library ideal is thoroughly modern, utterly inspired and perfectly logical. In these Dark  Ages of cuts I believe that we have to keep the flame of library enlightenment burning , no matter how difficult that may be. I am currently involved with "Save Wood Street Library campaign" which aims to prevent the library being moved to a shop front in the square and the old building being sold off or developed around,  I would encourage everybody to become part of the broader  fight to keep these lighthouses of knowledge alight.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Public Libraries and PFI

Tomorrow in his Autumn Statement the Chancellor will be announcing plans to make PFI more 'public', 'Private Finance 2 (PF2)' as it will be called will involve the public sector taking stakes of up to 49% in individual private finance projects and appointing a director to the boards of each project.
This is to ensure that the taxpayer gets a share of any profits from the deal or this is what we are being told?
This has all come about due to Government concerns over failed PFI projects, long term liability to the public purse and the huge profits being made by the private companies involved.

But what has this got to do with Public Libraries i hear you ask?

all of the following Libraries where built using PFI;

Liverpool Central Library = £42m
Wootton Library
Newcastle Central Library = £3.3m
Hackney Central Library
Bournemouth Central Library = £20m
Brighton Central Library = £12m
The Hive - a joint venture with a University = £43m
Oldham Library and Lifelong Learning Centre = £13.5m

although on the face of it this might seem like a good news story is it really a sustainable and cost effective way of providing new libraries and are they being built at the expense of the local branch network?
"With around 500 libraries under threat of closure, there’s no shortage of local authorities throwing millions of pounds at gradiose library PFI schemes, even as they seek to save far less by shutting more local and popular facilities."

Millington library wants to end contract with private operator - The Commercial Appeal - 3/12/12

A window into the world of LSSI!

"Library officials in Millington want to cut ties with their private operator and create a library services department in the city.
Sue Nan Hartley, chair of the Millington Library Board, told the Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday night that LSSI has been helpful over the years, but recently has boxed them in, limiting what books they can order and what equipment they can purchase.
"LSSI is making it very hard for the Millington Public Library to be the Millington Public Library," Hartley said. "I call it the cookie-cutter approach. We're not Germantown or Collierville. We do things a little different out here."
Hartley recommended that the board end its contract with LSSI this month, in time to give the company the required 180 days notice. Standing next to her in support Monday night was Brian Miller, director of the Millington Public Library and LSSI employee.
Miller said LSSI has repeatedly denied the Millington library's requests for specific books because they weren't on the company's approved list. And he said, the contractor has made it difficult to get electronic books and requires the library to purchase equipment from specific companies, even if it's cheaper somewhere else."

Monday, 3 December 2012

Award of libraries contract called in to scrutiny - Save Croydon Libraries - 3/12/12

"The decision to award the Croydon libraries contract to John Laing Integrated Services (JLIS) has been called into scrutiny and will be heard this Wednesday, 5th December at 6.30pm in the Town Hall Council Chambers."