But a lot of people have been keeping the books, leading to a large amount of late fees. “I think the last time we checked it was $3.2 million,” said Keith Fujio with the State Public Library System. A staggering amount, considering the late fee for an overdue book is 25 cents each day. … Each week, they send about 400 notices to collection agencies. Library officials are also looking to pay more than $96,000 to a company that will send electronic notifications and postcards notifying people when they are delinquent.
In technical services, our experience suggests that budgetary savings since 2012 have been due not to increased efficiency, but rather to severe cuts in quality and to the outsourcing of library work. These trends have allowed the library to continue processing books with smaller staffing, but this has come at the sacrifice both of the quality of its collections and of its contractual commitments to its employees. … It seemed clear to the copy catalogers involved in the project that the new cataloging standards were designed to facilitate outsourcing by allowing substandard vendor supplied cataloging to be accepted without meaningful revision by staff. These new, reduced cataloging standards are now being used to overlook the errors already found in a recently introduced workflow called “direct to destination” where outside, for-profit companies catalog for Harvard and send titles directly to shelf without review by local expert staff. … Librarians and library staff at all levels have a basic accountability to the university and the intellectual mission it serves. By outsourcing our work to vendors, Harvard is ceding the independent function of the library as a curator of information in the service of knowledge to a handful of private corporations whose main interest lies in maximizing profits.
Following Restructuring, Libraries Report Large Savings
Source: Karl M. Aspelund, Harvard Crimson, November 2, 2015
Harvard’s library system has reduced spending by $25 million in aggregate since 2009, largely due to a multi-year restructuring effort completed in 2012, according to an update distributed to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences prior to its meeting on Tuesday. … The number of employees in the library system dropped from 1,094 in 2009 to 771 in 2015, a nearly 30 percent decrease, the document says. The restructuring effort included transfers of staff to other administrative offices—such as human resource staff and technology specialists—but also involved controversial cuts to staffing. Spending on salaries decreased from 53.2 to 50 percent of total spending within the library system between 2009 and 2014.
Harvard Library Workers Resist Top-Down Restructuring and Austerity
Source: James Cersonsky, Labor Notes, February 12, 2013
…Staff cuts are only one plank of a broader shift in Library governance. At the recommendation of a management consulting firm and a two-year in-house study, the 73 libraries on campus have been merged into one “Harvard Library.”
A subset of workers—access services and technical services—have new duties, and in some cases new worksites, as part of a “shared services” structure. These workers run the Library’s bread-and-butter operations: cataloging books, responding to patron inquiries, supervising student workers, managing the library’s website, and processing book loans from other universities…..
…A “shared services” model often entails de-skilling. At a number of universities, converting to a shared-services model for academic departments has detached workers from their localized knowledge and stripped their workplaces of the relationships that help the departments function….
…Under a similar push in University Financial Services, employees have been fired for not processing invoices fast enough. The logic of the performance measurements—employees must work at or above average speed 75 percent of the time—makes it impossible for everyone to succeed. Meanwhile, most workers aren’t getting paid any extra to work under the new system….
In 2010, the chief executive of LSSI admitted to The New York Times that the company saves money by cutting overhead and replacing unionized employees. “Cutting overhead” can mean fewer services and reduced hours. Privatized libraries make up for less professional staff by depending on unpaid volunteers and automation. …. Even LSSI’s basic sales pitch that they can operate libraries for less than the public is suspect. When the town of Dartmouth, MA, evaluated a proposal to privatize their libraries, they found there was no evidence that privatization saved communities money. San Juan, TX, remunicipalized their libraries after contracting with LSSI for five years due to frustrations with the company’s refusal to divulge its profit margin. After bringing their libraries back under local control, town leaders were able to extend branch hours, giving residents better flexibility and access. The California town of Calabasas canceled its contract with LSSI and saved $68,000 in their first year back with public library service.
When a resident came into the library last week looking to check out the new Harper Lee novel, Yuri Hurtado had to break the news there were no copies…The proposed 2015-16 $43.7 million budget includes $103,000 for books and materials but is less than the $153,750 recommended by the library’s operator, LSSI. It is the second consecutive year that funding for books and materials has come up short, Filippi said. In 2014-15, only $90,000 was set aside for new books and materials when LSSI had recommended $150,000….LSSI was brought on was for several reasons, Filippi said, including reducing the city’s pension obligations by contracting out the services. Outsourcing also provided the ability to add hours of operation, which it has, Filippi said. The last was the move would add more books to the library’s catalog, he said….Hurtado said LSSI purchases two-thirds of its books and materials once the funds become available at the start of the fiscal year. Typically library staff have to pre-order books months in advance….The $60,000 cut in 2014-15 works out to 2,000 books that LSSI wasn’t able to purchase, she said.
Upland Library closing briefly while management transitions
Source: Liset Marquez, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, July 25, 2014
….. Planning is underway to transition the 100-year-old public institution to a privately operated operation. But when it reopens Friday – the first time in several years – some long time staff will not be returning. In June, the City Council approved a five-year contract with Library Systems and Services Inc., at a savings to the city of $1 million over that period. Outsourcing the management of the public facility was one of the 22 items approved by the citizen-led Upland Fiscal Response Task Force. “Not everybody applied but a good percentage were rehired,” said Robert Windrow, vice president of LSSI, which is based in Germantown, Maryland.
Upland council approves outsourcing of library
Source: Liset Marquez, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, June 25, 2014
A private company will assume the day-to-day operations of the city’s library starting on Aug. 1, opening that Friday for the first time in several years. The City Council on Monday night approved a five-year contract with Library Systems and Services Inc., at a savings to the city of $1 million over that period. Outsourcing the management of the public facility was one of the 22 items approved by the citizen-led Upland Fiscal Response Task Force.
Privatizing Marion’s library system is “not on the table,” County Commission Chairman Stan McClain said at the beginning of Wednesday morning’s budget workshop. The packed house cheered…A private company had approached the commissioners individually and proposed privatization. But McClain, citing a discussion at the last commission meeting, said the commission had agreed that privatization was not an option.
Talks of selling the public library in Marion County
Source: WCJB, July 14th, 2015
There’s a petition circulating in Marion County, started by concerned citizens. They say that the county is talking about taking the “public” out of the Marion County Public Library System by selling the organization to a private company….According to the to the county, the possibility of privatizing the public library was first brought up at the July 7th meeting by county commissioner Carl Zalak, who has held office since 2011. Records show that “Library Systems & Services L.LC., a Maryland-based for-profit company, has been lobbying the county commission for several months to sell off…”Our concerned is, that if it becomes privatized, another thing they could do to make money is start user fees, and the very people who need this library the most, may be the ones who can’t afford user fees.” According to the county, the out-of-state group says they can save the county a million dollars annually; Something Maines says could have a huge impact on the community. She says that people use the library for much more than books. “Things like job search, medicaid and social security applications, veterans come in and access for they need for services, so it’s amazing how this library is used.”
Privatization not the answer for public libraries
Source: Toni James, Star-Banner, July 12, 2015
LSSI (Library Services and Systems Inc., based in Maryland and owned by Argosy, a private equity investment firm in Boston) has indicated that they would fire all staff and hire back some with less skills at lower pay, possibly cut hours the libraries are open and, certainly, buy less books. LSSI could possibly even charge patrons a fee to borrow books and other materials. They need money to pay their stockholders!
Public libraries might be sacrificed in budget cuts
Source: Kristine Crane, Ocala.com, July 8, 2015
If you love your local library, now would be the time to show it. The County Commission may consider either privatizing the county’s libraries or cutting the system’s funding as it formulates the 2015-2016 budget in the coming weeks. And library lovers are fighting back. Carmen Maines, president of the Friends of the Ocala Public Library, said her group is “rallying the troops” and encouraging library supporters to come to next Wednesday’s budget workshop, when Library Director Julie Sieg will give a presentation about the library system’s budget. … She has talked to former employees of the libraries in both Osceola and Sumter counties, which were privatized by LsSI. “It was not a good situation (after the privatization),” Maines said. “You’re using public dollars to help support a for-profit company, so the accountability is not the same; there are no public records anymore.”
No decision yet on privatizing libraries
Source: Kristine Crane, Ocala Star Banner, June 27, 2015
The Marion County government is not actively working toward privatizing the county’s eight libraries, but it is being lobbied by a Maryland-based private library group to that end. Commissioner David Moore said that Library Systems & Services LLC, which is based in Germantown, Maryland, approached commissioners at the recent Florida Association of Counties meeting. …. “I have talked to people from both Sumter and Osceola counties who have worked with LLSI, and they’ve had mixed results,” Moore added. Six months after privatizing, the Osceola libraries had layoffs, he continued.
Editorial: Privatizing our libraries?
Source: Ocala Star Banner, June 28, 2015
… Rather than ask the people to pay a little more to be assured top-notch fire-rescue services — something most would have no qualms about doing — our commissioners think it might be a good idea to privatize our public libraries to save money. Oh sure, a privatized public library is an oxymoron, but so apparently is political leadership. Anyway, with budget season upon us, the commissioners have decided the best way to balance the budget is to cut funding for libraries, parks and animal services, quality of life services that all are used by large numbers of the citizenry. The libraries, for instance, had more than 826,000 visits last year alone…..The commissioners are talking to an outfit that has found it profitable to take over public libraries. Oh, they won’t take on the maintenance and repairs, or buy new computers or reach out to the community to see what more the libraries can do. They just want to get their hand in the public till for private profit. …….And according to Nancy Young of Friends of the Library, who has met with the commissioners about the privatization issue, the majority of the commissioners are “very interested” in how Library Systems and Services Inc., or LSSI, can cut the county budget. Of course, rest assured, if LSSI does take over the libraries, which last year had a $6 million budget, they will find their profit by cutting people and services and, most likely, assessing new fees and charges….
Charter schools are far less likely than traditional schools to have libraries or librarians, surveys show. During the 2011–12 school year, 49 percent of public charter schools reported having a library media center compared to 93 percent of traditional public schools in the United States, according to a survey by the National Center on Education Statistics. Nationwide, one-third of libraries in public charter schools had full-time, paid, state-certified library media center specialists, compared to two-thirds of traditional public schools. Publicly funded, independently operated charter schools typically have greater discretion over their spending and often have smaller or temporary facilities…
….That changed in early 2013, when renovations to the Grand Hall and several other sections of the Washington Street side were completed, and the library opened for business as a special event space. A partnership with Russell Morin Fine Catering positioned the library as a venue for weddings, fundraisers and other special occasions that merit an air of grandeur. Proceeds from those rentals go straight back to the library to support programming and services – a crucial source of funding for an institution that no longer receives money from the City. “We’re a private nonprofit, so it’s vital to us. We couldn’t carry out a lot of these ideas if we didn’t have that funding,” Martin says. “When people have events here, they’re essentially donating to the library.” Renovations continue to transform the space. An ongoing expansion of the fifth floor, which has always been staff workspace that was never open to the public, will turn it into a learning lab and maker space for innovative and educational programming. Martin points out that PPL’s 112,000 square feet of learning library make it a physically larger cultural entity than even AS220, which owns three separate properties downtown. ….
Queens Borough Public Library announced Oct. 23 that it will no longer use outside custodians — a victory for the union, which has long fought farming out work to private firms — and a possible sign of improving labor relations at the library. QBPL said it will end its contract with the Busy Bee cleaning company in December, eliminate the remaining contracted custodians in June, and replace the contracted workers with union custodians. The library has about 70 unionized custodians. It had many more before 2008, when it stopped hiring custodians and began shrinking the in-house staff through attrition. In 2013, QBPL decided to hire contract custodians rather than union custodians, even though its budget had stabilized. The library will use $2.8 million in additional funding that the City Council restored earlier this year to hire 16 new full-time custodians and 19 clerical workers….
The Board of County Commissioners Tuesday unanimously passed its final 2014-15 budget of nearly $278 million and set the millage rate at 8.1010, a slight increase over last year’s rate. It also put to rest – for now, at least – the idea that the county’s library system would be outsourced or privatized, an idea dubbed an urban legend by one commissioner. … The “outsourcing” comments McDavitt referenced came from the Sept. 9 BCC meeting, when Conkey delivered a lengthy report on revenue diversification. The libraries came in a comment he made on outsourcing and diversification…. “We had an email from LSSI . . . they sent an email that they could run our libraries and save us $400,000. Now, that’s $400,000 that you may now be able to . . . build a new library and roll that into operating another library,” he said….McDavitt, who was joined by more than 25 library supporters in the audience, said some 478 signatures had been collected over the weekend at three of the county’s libraries in opposition to privatization. Mc-Davitt said a Facebook page also debuted that has recorded more than 600 visits and her phone was “ringing off the hook” and she had 300-400 messages a day in her email box. “This is how passionate people are about the libraries in this county,” Mc-Davitt said. After the 2014-15 budget was passed – a budget which included nothing about outsourcing or privatizing the libraries – McDavitt again spoke to tell the commissioners that if anyone on the board wanted to proceed with the idea of privatization, library supporters had “amassed an enormous amount of research” on the issue and LSSI, which they would be happy to share. …
A plan to rent out a big chunk of the Red Hook library branch that would close the prose depot for at least eight months is an unnecessary privatization of public reading space, say bookworms who plan to pack public hearings next week and voice their opposition. The space-sharing arrangement will have the arts group Spaceworks take over three or four tenths of the library for dance and performance space that Spaceworks will rent at supposedly affordable prices. The plan has been in the works since early last year, but the library system and the organization are now seeking approval from Community Board 6 for the renovations that would shutter the branch, and activists are gearing up for a fight over what they say is a handout at the expense of taxpayers that threatens the very notion of a library for the people. …
…The renovations are supposed to create two performance studios in the building and fix up other parts of the facility that are in disrepair . A library spokesman estimated costs for the job at $1.8 million, of which Spaceworks is supposed to provide $650,000 to cover the price of the studios. The library is then supposed to get rent from Spaceworks for as long as the organization uses the space. Neither Spaceworks nor the library would say how much the group will pay or how often….