Monday, September 27, 2010

Let's Hope This Trend Continues.....

NY Times -- "A private company in Maryland has taken over public libraries in ailing cities in California, Oregon, Tennessee and Texas, growing into the country’s fifth-largest library system. The company, known as L.S.S.I., runs 14 library systems operating 63 locations. Its basic pitch to cities is that it fixes broken libraries — more often than not by cleaning house."

“A lot of libraries are atrocious,” said the company's CEO Frank Pezzanite.  Their policies are all about job security. That’s why the profession is nervous about us. You can go to 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.”

13 Comments:

At 9/27/2010 9:55 AM, Blogger sethstorm said...

...there goes a public good, and its non-exclusive nature. Never mind the security that is a given through government employment against bad management. That, and their weasel-wording to be able to bring in outsiders.

 
At 9/27/2010 10:06 AM, Blogger Philip said...

I love the comments at NYT about how terrible making libraries run by private enterprise is.

The profit by government employees, off the tax payer through their pensions, is being reduced. Shouldn't they be happy?

 
At 9/27/2010 10:08 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"Never mind the security that is a given through government employment"...

So sethstorm how many of these government parasites do you want to support with YOUR money? One? Two? More?

 
At 9/27/2010 10:23 AM, Blogger Jason said...

The function of a library is a repository for knowledge. Not to employ people. As long as the private firm stays true to academic principals and maintains and provides access to the knowledge in an ethical way, what reasonable person can have a problem with this? What do opposed think - all libraries be government funded? What kind of academic diversity would that create, exactly?

 
At 9/27/2010 6:17 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

Jason:
Well, as a parallel function to holding knowledge, it is to employ people. Why should it be any different because their government work didn't get the golden ticket of a security clearance?

 
At 9/27/2010 6:34 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

Hopefully, they succeed in recalling the politicians that put LSSI in there. It'd be quite nice to see outsourcing of this nature have dire consequences if supported.

 
At 9/27/2010 6:43 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

And more fodder from within the industry as to who LSSI really is:

When LSSI Comes To Town

What Google might have to say:
http://www.google.com/search?q=LSSI+contract+ended

 
At 9/27/2010 7:26 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Thanks for that article link sethstorm...

I think now more than ever and outfit like LSSI is the perfect replacement for useless and overpriced city employees...

 
At 9/27/2010 7:32 PM, Blogger Jason said...

Seth, I am not terribly sympathetic to the plight of library workers. Again, the purpose of a library is as a repository of knowledge. I agree hiring workers is necessary to do this, but only within the context of the goal of the institution. There is no "parallel function" - the job of the librarians on staff is to faciliatate execution of the plan that meets the goal/objective.

Now, if outsourcing options do not increase hours or impede access to
knowledge. Then perhaps the existing systems are the best way to go. But I could care less about the opinion of librarians opposing having wages reduced. Biased in, biased out.

Look, we have to realize something: The intended purpose of our form of government, and its adjunct agencies, is to serve the people. IF not, then we are looking at something other than a repubilcan democracy, perhaps more like a communist/socialist form of governement where there is no line between private and public, there is just public. So if that's what we have, then perhaps I'm mistaken and I should explore other options where meritocracy and economic freedom mean something.

 
At 9/27/2010 10:34 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...


Jason said...

The problem is that in this case, LSSI makes sure no negative words can be heard (even if proven true) by others as a part of the contract the city signs.

You can get positive reviews if LSSI gags people. What does LSSI have to hide with these contracts?


"Because of a contract clause preventing current Jersey City PL (JCPL) top managers from discussing LSSI, it's hard to evaluate fully LSSI's performance at JCPL, where it operated from 1999 to 2001. A study by Arthur Andersen noted that the library "lacked automation, training, and leadership prior to LSSI's arrival." The New Jersey State Librarian had refused to release grant funds. Allan Kleiman, head of reference at Westfield PL, NJ, and a one-year employee of LSSI at Jersey City, says, "I don't know who could have done it outside an LSSI type that could bring in a heavy-duty team."

When the contract ended, LSSI sought to block criticism from new director Priscilla Gardner—who once criticized LSSI vocally—and the assistant director. The nondisparagement clause might have been a quid pro quo. Board chair Mofalc Meinga tells LJ, "It was a mutual agreement, because they let us out of a contract early," thus avoiding a potential "sizable fee" to terminate. "I would give them a good recommendation," he adds with a laugh. "I'm not gagged on that."

Former employees say LSSI has required them to sign a nondisclosure agreement. LSSI would not comment on that. This requirement was not mentioned in either the Florida or ALA reports on outsourcing."


Is a company with a lot to hide something you want more of, Dr. Perry?

 
At 9/29/2010 6:44 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Is a company with a lot to hide something you want more of, Dr. Perry?

What I care about is performance. If the library system was inadequate and employees were not doing their jobs it made sense to bring in an outside company to fix what was wrong. As long as the company met the terms of its contract then there are no issues that are of concern.

For the record, I understand why a company that would try to muscle into territory held by unionized public employees would have certain terms in its contracts. It would seem to me that it would not be difficult for the unions to place an employee inside the company that could be brought out to slag the company and to make claims that would discourage other cities to do business with it. If employees signed contracts then I would expect them to live up to those contracts just as the company is expected to.

 
At 10/03/2010 2:56 PM, Blogger Keep said...

I think the issue in Santa Clarita is that the City Council tried to back door this deal. Had they been honest about it, it may have had very different results.
In SSJCPL's case, LSSI is offering to cut wages, give horrible benefits even by private industry standards, and are making editorial claims that I do not believe they will follow up on. Also, they use volunteers to backfill for paid positions, something they will deny, but are quite proud of in annual library reports (read Shasta County). This is a company that is selling a service, and they will tell you whatever you want to hear to get the business. For SSJCPL, they promised to hire workers at the same wages (Stockton Record Editorial), but in Santa Clarita they can be more heavy hitting because they already have the contract. While LSSI may be misunderstood on some levels, I do not feel that they are honest either. No one has really followed up since 2004, but maybe it is time.

 
At 10/03/2010 9:05 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

In SSJCPL's case, LSSI is offering to cut wages, give horrible benefits even by private industry standards, and are making editorial claims that I do not believe they will follow up on....

The problem for the workers claiming that the wages are low is the lack of support for that position. While they may be able to gouge the taxpayers by negotiating fat wages with city governments there is no high pay for librarians being offered by the free market.

Also, they use volunteers to backfill for paid positions, something they will deny, but are quite proud of in annual library reports (read Shasta County)....

What is wrong with that? My son wants to gain experience before he can get a paying job and would love to have the opportunity to show that he is responsible, dependable, and competent by being able to volunteer. Why should he be denied the opportunity to volunteer so that public sector employees can get more money from taxpayers?

This is a company that is selling a service, and they will tell you whatever you want to hear to get the business.

In business what matters is what you deliver. If the company does not perform as it has promised to the city should go out and get another bidder who will do the job better or cheaper.

 

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