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 - 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$FILE/Proposal%20LSSI.pdf

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 - 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

Thursday, 7 April 2011

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

see also and 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. (24.11 to 28 minutes)