Privatisation – Pro


  • LSSI are also positive about putting in services which will generate income such as cafes, bookstores and IT, although of course many council-run library services already charge for these.

“We are very much aware of the depth of feeling for libraries and share that. We love libraries and that is why we are in this business. Libraries are what we do. Our business depends on getting our service right in every branch, every day.” Stuart Fitzgerald, Vice President LSSI (UK)

  • Although it has denigrated some of the working practises (“slacks and trainers”) of librarians and reduces employment costs (pensions, salary, etc)  by around 15% compared to US state libraries, LSSI does continue to employ 100 qualified librarians in USARiverside County (USA) expanded opening hours and bookfund/usage while cutting costs. LSSI also report that library usage increases when they take over a contract as they give the public what they want. LSSI CEO Frank Pezzanite was quoted September 2010 in the New York Times, talked about “a lot of libraries” as saying “their policies are all about job security… You can go to a library for 35 years and never have to do anything and then have your retirement…You come to us, you’re going to have to work.”.  It is worth noting, at his point, that Mr Pezzanite went on a 112 round-the-world cruise at the start of 2012.
  • Private library companies will need to ensure that they continue to provide an effective service or they will lose the contract at the end of their fixed term, normally  three or five years.  Also, being there are at least two companies competing in the UK, there is competition even if the authorising council remains wedded to the concept of private enterprise running the service.  LSSI say their standards need to be high as USA councils give them annual contracts, meaning if they fail to succeed, they lose business.
  • Expectations are very high of the improvement to be gained by privatisation.  In the case of Wokingham, the council expects the move to make a saving of £170,000 per year as well as ensuring no libraries close, that services and usage will be boosted and, presumably, there will be a worthwhile profit for the company involved.

“The alternative is libraries closing so we have to consider what they are offering,” cautions Mark Smith, chair of Norbury Green Residents Association which has fought a vigorous campaign to save its library run by Croydon Council. “It is a very divisive subject and feelings run high but our position is, if we can keep the library open and meet standards on staffing and service, let’s see what it brings. We have fantastic library staff who know most people by name and they may not stay. That is a big concern because their presence makes the library what it is, just as much as the books and the building do. We want to protect them but, ultimately, we are fighting to keep the library open. If we were in one of the nearby London boroughs, the library would have been closed and everything would have gone.” Sunday Express.

  • #1 written by Jason Quinn
    about 2 years ago

    Profit motive is not the issue here. Public Libraries are not designed to make profits. They are a public service funded by the tax payer. This is the problem when talking about privatisation. There are very few opportunities in public libraries to make money.
    Of course, this won’t prevent councils from doing it. They see libraries as a liability and simply do not understand why people need them.

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