Friday, 18 February 2011

Library campaigners say No to Privatised libraries!

The Oxford Mail reports:

LIBRARY campaigners criticised county council talks with a US firm which claims it can save at least some of the 20 branches under threat.

Councillors voted through £2m-a-year cuts to the library service on Tuesday, but negotiations are still going on with outsourcing company Library Systems and Service (LSSI).

But groups opposing council cuts said outsourcing would destroy the library service.

Jonathan Hood, chairman of the Friends of Summertown Library, said campaigners had been contacted by Californian activists opposed to LSSI taking over libraries in the state.
The American campaigners claim outsourcing to LSSI had led to declines in service and resources, charges for inter-library loans, and worse terms and conditions for staff.

Mr Hood said: “We are concerned at the fact the council is even talking to LSSI.
“At the moment, Summertown Library is a community resource where people go to meet or just sit in the garden.
“These are not going to be things LSSI would be keen to fund.
“Under an outsourcing firm, it may remain an efficient system for borrowing books, but libraries are far more than that.”

Neil Clark, of Save Botley Library, said: “The whole ethos of the library service would change if a private company ran it to make profits rather than as a public service.
“Outsourcing would mean losing branches and the end of the library service as we know it.”

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