Category Archives: Library

County may privatize library cafe

Source: CJ Baker, Powell Times, August 3, 2017

After years of subsidizing the Cody library’s cafe with thousands of taxpayer dollars, Park County leaders say it may be time to turn the Biblio Bistro over to a private business. …Over the coming year, the Bistro is projected to lose more than $49,500 — about the same amount it’s lost in the last several years. The consensus reached among the commissioners and library leaders on Tuesday was that the county and library system can no longer afford to subsidize the cafe to that degree. County officials decided to start drafting a request for proposals (RFP), in which private businesses would be invited to submit proposals on how they might use the Biblio Bistro’s space in the Cody library and how much they’d be willing to pay in rent. … Library officials and commissioners will discuss the RFP again at another work session.

Hancock County Debates Privatizing Library System

Source: WLOX, February 13, 2017

Tensions were high at a board meeting in Hancock County Monday night regarding the library system. Community members packed the room, many of them expressing outrage about the possibility of the county privatizing the Hancock County Library system. The system houses five libraries and 26 full time employees. Some believe the privatization would allow an outside company to take over the system, hire their own employees, and depend more on technology than librarians. Many residents at the board meeting said the library system is just fine and that the privatization would have a negative impact. … The Hancock County Board of Supervisors said they’re only exploring their options with the privatization and will discuss the matter again during the next meeting.

Privatization of county library is not an option, official says

Source: John Chadwell, Benito Link, August 26, 2016

LSSI was the sole respondent to a request for proposal (RFP) the county issued on behalf of itself, Hollister, San Juan Bautista and the County of San Benito Joint Intergovernmental Committee.  The request asked for assistance to provide a needs assessment, which would result in the creation of a comprehensive understanding of operational and building needs for the library and eventually a Technology, Education, and Library (TEL) Center. The goal of the needs assessment, according to the office of Ray Espinosa, county administrative officer, is develop a comprehensive analysis of the unmet facility and operational needs in the existing library. … Officials with the county as well as the city of Hollister agree that the existing library facility and service levels are inadequate to accommodate both the present and future needs of the county population. … Bob Windrow, vice president of business development for LSSI, then went through a lengthy presentation, first about the company’s 35 years of working with community libraries, the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian Institution. Then he spoke of the county library’s needs assessment goals, the company’s approach in determining them, and the delivery of a plan on how to achieve those goals. … Mark Weirick, SEIU 521 union organizer, warned against the county working with LSSI, which he claimed had a reputation of taking over and privatizing libraries at the expense of communities and library employees. … Weirick further claimed that in the libraries that LSSI runs, there is an incentive to keep costs down and profits up by lowering salaries and benefits of employees, relying more on volunteers, reducing programs, and services. …

After failure of Measure F, what’s next for Kern’s libraries?

Source: Bakersfield Now, June 8, 2016

Kern County libraries will face a much smaller budget, now that Measure F was defeated in the June 7 election. County officials say it’s not clear if hours or service will be cut, and they will keep working with community groups as an alternate way to get extra support for the libraries. … He said that means next year’s budget for libraries will be about $7 million. Will that be enough? … Passage of Measure F would have changed that. The proposal was for a one-eighth cent sales tax for libraries. Wiebe said it’s estimated that would have brought in about $15 million a year. … Measure F actually got more “yes” votes than “no,” but not enough to win approval. According to the latest Kern County Election Department data, there were 43,710 voters approving the measure, and 42,517 voting “no.” But that means approval by 50.69 percent, and a tax measure requires passage by 66.6 percent. …

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Tax would raise $15 million a year for libraries
Source: James Burger and Theo Douglas, Bakersfield.com, April 30, 2016

Advocates for Library Enhancement — formed to oppose privatization of Kern County’s 25 library branches — is now spearheading the political campaign to pass Measure F, a one-eighth cent sales tax on the June 7 ballot. It’s estimated Measure F would increase Kern County’s roughly $7 million library budget by $15 million a year for 16 years, flooding resources into the system that serves 840,000 people across 8,000 square miles. Following years of system budget cuts, many rural branches are now open only three or four days a week. The Wasco branch, for example, is only open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Kern County Library Director Nancy Kerr — who can’t advocate for the tax but can discuss its implications — said if Measure F passes, all branches would be open at least five days a week. …

FIRST LOOK: Kern County Library Tax may provide dedicated funding stream
Source: Charmaine Cleveland, Bakersfield Californian, April 5, 2016

Kern County Library Assistant Director Andrea Apple said on Tuesday that Kern County is just one of two places in the state that still depends on a general fund for its library. But a new ballot measure may change that. During a 30-minute interview on “First Look with Scott Cox,” Apple talked about the June 7th ballot measure, called Measure F, which aims to support the Kern County Library System by implementing a one-eighth-cent sales tax to help fund the location. … According to the assistant director, the measure will only affect taxable goods, leaving out many necessity payments like utility bills and prescriptions. During the interview, Apple also addressed the notion of library privatization, adding that the Kern County Library’s director, who came from a similar, private industry, found little to cut from the location’s budget.

Groups get names removed from Measure F opposition statement
Source: James Burger, Bakersfield Californian, March 31, 2016

Four business-friendly groups whose names were included in a statement opposing Measure F, the Kern County library sales tax measure, have had their names pulled from the document. Kern Citizens for Sustainable Government, the Kern County Taxpayers’ Association, the Kern Home Builders Association and the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce filed a joint lawsuit in Kern County Superior Court March 22 seeking to have their names taken off the statement voters will see in their voter information packet. … Providence principal Tracy Leach, who has contracted with private library management company LSSI, filed the opposition argument and included the four groups’ names in a list of organizations that oppose the proposed one-eighth cent library tax that voters will consider on the June 7  ballot. Representatives for the groups, which had called for Kern County to explore privatization of library management through a contract with LSSI, quickly demanded that the Kern County Elections Division pull their names off the letter because they hadn’t formally taken a position on Measure F.

Library tax
Source: Clayton Huckaby, Kern Valley Sun, March 16, 2016

On Tuesday, March 8 the Kern County Board of Supervisors voted to put the proposed library sales tax on the June ballot. The Board of Supervisors approved a measure on March 8 that, if voter approved, would increase sales tax by 0.125 percent and would garner as much as $15 million per year for the Kern County Libraries. The proposed sales tax comes as an alternative to the Board of Supervisors proposed plan to partner with Library Systems & Service Incorporated (LSSI). … If the measure is approved, according to the Advocates for Library Enhancement, the wording of the measure will allow the money to be spent solely on maintaining and improving Kern County Libraries. Although this money may be used only for the libraries, the current general fund funding for the library may be reallocated by the Board of Supervisors to other areas of the budget. The measure could potentially free up general fund money for the Kern County Fire Department, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, or other areas within the county’s budget.

Kern County supervisors approve putting library tax on ballot
Source: Bakersfield Now, March 8, 2016

Kern County supervisors decided Tuesday to put a library tax before voters. The eighth-cent tax on all retail sales within Kern County would bring $15 million to Kern County’s 24 libraries, about double their current budget, according to Advocates for Liberty Enhancement.

Supervisors leery of library tax, but to decide in March
Source: James Burger, Bakersfield Californian, February 2, 2016

Kern County supervisors will on March 1 consider placing a tax measure on the June ballot to support the Kern County library system. But most made it clear Tuesday they’re leery of offering up that tax. So they also voted to issue a request for information that could result in privatization of the library system. … Supervisor Leticia Perez said the county is obliged to give the tax measure serious consideration given that it and the public have spent most of a year digging into how to best support libraries. … And Kern County Administrative Officer John Nilon, tasked nine months ago with taking the public’s pulse on the privatization of library management, told supervisors that the overwhelming message from polls, surveys and community meetings was that Kern residents support libraries, oppose privatization and support a sales tax to improve branches. Nilon said an analysis shows Kern County has one of the most poorly funded county library systems in the state — spending $8 per capita, less than one third the state average of $25. … Most speakers from Lake Isabella, Mojave, Ridgecrest and Bakersfield spoke passionately for the tax measure and a publically managed library system. They said libraries will never get the support they need to run well when they have to compete with the Sheriff’s Office, Fire Department and other critical county departments. They urged supervisors to put the tax on the ballot and let the people decide how to fund their libraries.
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Judge rules against group trying to halt sale of Brooklyn Heights Library

Source: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle, July 11, 2016

Love Brooklyn Libraries, Inc., headed by Brooklyn resident Marsha Rimler, had challenged the project’s environmental review, but the court dismissed the claims on July 7, saying they lacked merit. The court also ruled that the lawsuit was not served within the required deadline, and that any extension of the deadline for service would be unwarranted. … Love Brooklyn Libraries, Inc. had claimed that the city’s environmental review did not take into account several adverse environmental risks, including increased traffic, air pollution and noise, and long shadows cast in nearby parks. The city, however, provided a detailed explanation of how its environmental analysis was carried out, demonstrating it was in technical compliance with applicable laws. For example, the analysis found that construction vehicles would not add more than 50 “vehicle-trips” at any intersection during peak hours. Because of this, further analysis was not warranted, according to guidance under the CEQR Technical Manual, the city’s environmental “bible.” … The library site is being sold to developer Hudson Companies for $52 million. Hudson plans to build a 36-story luxury tower, with a new, smaller Brooklyn Heights branch on the ground floor and below ground. As part of the deal, 114 units of affordable housing will be built in Clinton Hill.

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Brooklyn Public Library To Sell Branch to Real Estate Developer
Source: Ian Chant, Library Journal, August 13, 2015

…If plans continue apace, the system will sell its Brooklyn Heights location to real estate developer Hudson Companies for upwards of $50 million. A 36 story residential tower of condos will be built on the site of the branch, in one of the borough’s toniest neighborhoods, and the ground floor will host a new library. … A design for the new library hasn’t been settled on yet, but one thing is for sure—at just over 21,000 square feet, the new branch will be significantly smaller than the current one, which is over 60,000 square feet. … The Brooklyn Heights Branch also houses BPL’s Business and Career Library, which won’t be true following the renovations. Once the current branch shutters its doors, the resources provided by the Business and Career Library will be moved three miles southwest to the Library’s Central Branch.

Community Board Approves Redevelopment Plan for Brooklyn Public Library Branch
Source: Ileana Najarro, New York Times, July 16, 2015

A controversial proposed redevelopment plan for the Brooklyn Public Library’s Brooklyn Heights branch, which includes the construction of affordable housing, received a community board’s approval, with provisions, at a heated meeting on Wednesday evening. The board, which met at St. Francis College, voted 25 to 14 in favor, with four members abstaining. … As part of the proposal, Hudson will also build 114 affordable-housing units in Clinton Hill, Ms. Johnson said. In exchange, the developer would build market-rate condominiums on top of the new library building. … The community board voted to approve the recommendation of the plan with three provisions: that once construction is completed and the new library is fully outfitted, at least $2 million be set aside as a fund to help maintain the library; that the new library have the same amount of usable space as the current one; and that there be a memorandum noting that a community benefits plan that is needed be made.

Saving Schools and Libraries by Giving Up the Land They Sit On
Source: Joseph Berger and Al Baker, New York Times, March 17, 2013

The Brooklyn Heights library is neither the oldest nor the most dilapidated branch of the Brooklyn Public Library system. But the 52-year-old limestone building is nonetheless ripe for demolition. It sits on land that developers crave, in a fashionable neighborhood where housing is in high demand. And so the library system, desperate for money to pay for $230 million in long-deferred repairs for its 60 branches, has embraced a novel financing model that is increasingly being used around New York City as a way to pay for government services. The library, on Cadman Plaza, along with another library near the Barclays Center, would be sold to developers, torn down and then rebuilt at no public expense on the ground floor of a new apartment tower. …

…But the approach has provoked growing protest in the affected communities. Most pressingly, residents are concerned about how far they will have to go to reach a library, and where their children will go to school, during the years it will take to erect the new towers. But they are also worried about the aesthetic and cultural price of replacing local institutions to which they are deeply attached, neighborhood landmarks if not official ones, and having them swallowed up into stacks of concrete, steel and glass. …

…Meanwhile, the New York City Housing Authority, facing the biggest deficits in its history, has proposed letting developers build private, mostly market-rate residential towers on parking lots alongside eight housing projects in Manhattan. The authority would use the resulting lease payments — as much as $60 million a year — to pay for badly needed repairs in the 179,000 apartments it manages….

City of Redding, Calif. Signs Contract with Library Systems & Services for Another Five Years

Source: PR Newswire, July 7, 2016

Library Systems and Services (LS&S) has signed an agreement to continue providing support to Redding and Shasta County, California libraries until 2021. The company has worked with Shasta Public Libraries since 2007, providing strategic, technical, and operational support. The public-private partnership with LS&S has given Shasta Public Libraries solid footing following a history of closed branches and low ratings for per capita funding. …

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Control of libraries to shift / Supervisors vote to pass services to city of Redding
Source: By Tim Hearden, Record Searchlight (CA), August 23, 2006

Shasta County supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to hand off library services to the city of Redding.

……..The city would notify the county by Oct. 31 whether it will run the system or contract with a private firm. Redding has been negotiating with Maryland-based Library Systems and Services (LSSI), and a final agreement could go before the City Council within the next month.

Library of Congress opens $40M contract for IT support

Source: Billy Mitchell, Fed Scoop, July 5, 2016

The Library of Congress, fighting its way out of an IT environment hamstrung by legacy technology, plans to spend up to $40 million on contractor support to help govern and manage its computer modernization development and investments. The legislative branch agency published a solicitation requesting proposals from IT vendors that can support the Library’s newly formed Office of the Chief Information Officer “in accomplishing initiatives in the areas of management and governance processes, including mission and IT strategic planning, effective and efficient use of technology investments within the context of business and IT investment portfolios, service management, and improved support to the Library’s various service units for both business and IT project and program management.” … The Library’s decision to move to independent contractors to support these IT functions comes after a series of critical audits in 2015 from its inspector general and the Government Accountability Office, which in part called for the agency to outsource a commercial firm to review its IT projects and help better manage them. …

Outsourcing plan halted at libraries

Source: Hillary Chester, Prince Williams Times, June 30, 2016

Prince William County staff have ceased their search into outsourcing the management of the library system. In a 7-1 vote at the Prince William Board of County Supervisors meeting on June 21 the board decided to cease efforts looking into outsourcing the libraries following their closed session. … Gainesville Supervisor Peter Candland, the champion of the idea, was the lone dissenting vote. “I believe, it is our responsibility to look at all options,” Candland said before the vote. Candland proposed outsourcing the libraries’ management at the board’s April 19 meeting. He raised the option as a way to save approximately $3 million during the board’s budget season. …

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Efforts to privatize library management ended
Source: Potomac Local, June 23, 2016

A plan to seek requests for proposals to outsource the management of Prince William County’s Public Libraries is dead. The county’s Board of Supervisors voted 7-1 on Tuesday to kill the measure proposed this past spring by Gainesville Supervisor Peter Candland. He gave the dissenting vote. …

Library outsourcing: Is $3 million worth the worry?
Source: Hillary Chester, Prince Williams Times, May 18, 2016

Gainesville Supervisor Pete Candland brought up the idea as a way to save money. The vice chair of the board said that the county had been approached by a company, later identified as LSSI, to help outsource management and that he had spoken with its representatives. According to the Candland during the April 19 meeting, the county would still own its 11 libraries. … The board did not agree to include outsourcing into this year’s budget at their April 19 meeting, but they did vote 7-1 to move forward with the a review of a RFP proposal. The RFP will return to the board for consideration on June 21. … In FY15 alone, there were 2,958 programs and special events held in the libraries that 105,615 people attended which equals to 246.5 programs and special events a month. For 11 libraries, two of which cost $14 million and $11 million to build, with 291 full-time and part-time employees, the library system’s proposed budget for FY17 is $16.9 million. The net general tax support is $13.8 million. … Gilman’s email also revealed the money saving aspects of the volunteers. The system currently has more than 300 active volunteers, as of April 2016, that save the library $609,996 in salaries year-to-date. Privatizing would reduce the number of volunteers and services. …

What is cut if Prince William library management goes private?
Source: Potomac Local, May 9, 2016

Could a plan to outsource some library operations save millions? The majority of the members of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors want to find out. The Board approved issuing a request for proposals (RFP) from private companies who would bid on taking over the daily management operations of the county’s 11 library branches. Gainesville District Supervisor Peter Candland said he’s “done homework” and spoken with such a company that could provide management services. The move could save as much as $15 million over the next five years, he added. … Gillman estimates a move to privatize management services could mean a 22 percent reduction in the the library system’s budget. That could amount to fewer new library books and materials purchased, fewer programs for children and adults, and shorter operating hours — things library patrons asking for more of, said Gillman. … By the books, the Prince William County Public Library System employs 208 full-time positions. Many of those are part-time jobs.  Last year, the library system’s adopted budget was $17.4 million, up 19% over the past five years. …

Our View: Public libraries vs. private management

Source: Mail Tribune, June 2, 2016

Jackson County Library District board members are rightfully voicing concerns about the private company that operates the district’s 15 libraries, but they may find that the five-year contract with the company limits their options until 2020. Meanwhile, the district should make the best of the situation, arguing firmly for what it wants and insisting on as much transparency as possible. … Specifically, board members are concerned about the low salaries paid to library workers and how much profit LS&S is making on the contract. Other sticking points include surprise bills, such as one for work library staff did on a strategic plan, and an effort to extract funds from a separate contract allowing Rogue Community College to use the Medford branch. Those concerns are valid, but the board is hampered by the fact that LS&S is a private company and is not required to disclose things like profit margins and the salaries it pays employees. … If, as board members have suggested, the district could provide better pay and better service to patrons by running the library itself rather than paying LS&S, the choice is clear. The only question is how long it will take to end the contract. …

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Library officials want to break free of contract with private firm
Source: Damian Mann, Mail Tribune, May 27, 2016

Jackson County library officials estimate that a third of the money they give to a private company to operate 15 branches goes to overhead and profits, curtailing both employee salaries and library services. Library officials have been expressing growing unease over the contract with Library Systems and Services, formerly known as LSSI, which manages all 15 branches and came under control of Argosy Private Equity firm in 2015. They’re exploring options for getting out of the contract. … Turner said the LS&S contract will cost $4.4 million next fiscal year, 38 percent more than the contract cost in 2008, factoring in increased hours and services. But those workers making minimum wage have seen their earnings rise only 19.2 percent (from $8.18 an hour to $9.75), and those with master’s degrees in library science have seen increases totaling 16.98 percent (from $22.50 an hour to $26.32). …

Our View: Library district concerns can be addressed
Source: Mail Tribune, May 15, 2016

… The district’s budget committee is recommending a $15.7 million budget for next year, which includes a $5 million ending fund balance. That’s a very healthy balance, especially considering the contract with LS&S is only about $5 million. Other budget expenses include materials, building and grounds maintenance, administrative and accounting services provided by the Rogue Valley Council of Governments, telephone and Internet service and security. The committee proposes keeping the district’s tax rate at 52 cents per $1,000 assessed value — a wise move considering the heat the district took when it initially suggested it might levy the maximum 60 cents approved by voters. The lesser amount appears to be sufficient, given the ending fund balance. Hours of service at the district’s 15 branches continue to exceed those provided by the county. That should continue. If pay levels are a concern, the district can afford to adjust them. In 2020, if board members want to look for another company or take over the operation themselves, they can do that, too — keeping in mind that taxpayers will expect library services to continue to be delivered as efficiently as possible.

Jackson County library contractor takes heat
Source: Damian Mann, Mail Tribune, May 12, 2016

A contract to operate Jackson County’s 15 libraries came under fire Thursday over charges that a private equity firm’s control has created excessive employee oversight and could stunt workers’ already low wages. … Shaw and other library officials expressed unease over the contract with Library Systems and Services, formerly known as LSSI, which manages all 15 branches and came under control of Argosy Private Equity in 2015. … Shaw criticized LS&S’s new president as being more interested in generating profits for the equity firm than in providing library services. LS&S officials said that LSSI was also operated by a private equity firm. … Shaw conceded workers may have received similar pay under LSSI but said it’s time the library district insisted on a living wage so employees don’t have to fall back on government-run programs to pay for housing and food. … The committee also recommended a $15.7 million 2016-17 budget, which has an ending fund balance of close to $5 million. The LS&S contract is for almost $5 million. Part of the budget calls for increased spending on maintenance for the branches, which includes painting, a roof and carpeting. … Shaw recommended using part of the district revenues to augment LS&S employee wages to ensure workers are getting a living wage. Shaw said that even if the library district managed to break free of LS&S, current employees of that company couldn’t be hired back because of noncompeting agreements. …

Library district lease with Jackson County may lead to ownership of buildings /District approves agreement with county over buildings
Source: Damian Mann, Mail Tribune, April 20, 2015

A sticking point over transfer of ownership of Jackson County library buildings has been resolved between the library district and county officials. Today at the Central Point branch, the library district board unanimously approved an agreement with the county for lease of the buildings that spells out a path to assuming ownership of the 15 branches. Jackson County officials, who still must sign off on the agreement, maintain the buildings can’t be transferred until about $40 million in bonds are paid in five years. The district board appeared to be satisfied with a provision in the lease that provides for ongoing discussions about the future ownership of the buildings, though it doesn’t offer many specifics. ….

Long Beach closes on $513 million in financing on Civic Center

Source: LA Biz, April 22, 2016

The city and Port of Long Beach have closed on financing for the $513 million Long Beach Civic Center Project. The project is a public-private partnership that is working to constructing a combination of public infrastructure and private mixed-use real estate development. The Civic Center project aims to reinvigorate downtown Long Beach and includes:

  • An 11 story 270,000 sq ft City Hall
  • An 11 story 237,000 sq ft Port Headquarters Building
  • A two story 92,000 sq ft Main Library
  • A 73,000 sq ft Civic Plaza
  • New underground parking with 469 spaces
  • Central utility plant
  • A three rooftop solar array system to provide up to 25 percent of the Civic Center energy needs
  • Revitalized City park of 4.9 acres.
  • Plans for future mixed use development with up to 580 residential units, retail space and up to 200 hotel rooms

The financing packaged arranged by lead developer Plenary Group included $239 million in a private placement from Allianz, $213 million construction loan from Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., $21 million equity investment from Plenary and $11.8 million in cash and land valued at nearly $30 million from the city of Long Beach.

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Long Beach Using P3 For New City Hall, Library
Source: Keeley Webster, The Bond Buyer, January 15, 2016

Long Beach, Calif. is pioneering a public-private financing method rarely used in the United States outside transportation in a $533 million project to build a new city hall, port headquarters, library and park. Instead of the city paying upfront to build the facilities and then paying for their operating costs over time, those expenses, along with design and construction costs, are all wrapped into “availability payments” the city and Port of Long Beach will make over a 40-year period. … The only other U.S. social infrastructure project that Ignacio Barandiaran, an Arup principal, said he is aware is the Long Beach courthouse agreement the California state government entered into in 2010. … The plan was for the availability payments to be the same as the existing expense, but the payments are going to be $14.7 million, plus a couple of million dollar service fee that covers the cost of interest on privately placed debt, according to city documents. Plenary-Edgemoor Civic Partners expects to close on a $238 million privately-placed taxable 43-year note in late January to fund the project. It will combine that with a $213 million bank loan from SMBC.