After reading the interview with Jackie Griffin (News, 12/23), Library Systems & Services (LSSI) would like to address some of the claims reportedly made by the Ventura County Library Director. Many of the statements made have no merit and are not based on any factual information.
The library has not been privatized. The city has partnered with LSSI to operate the day-to-day functions of the library. The city of Camarillo retains ownership of all assets of the library (the facilities, the materials, etc.). The city specifies all policies and goals for the library (both long-term and short-term), and LSSI will operate the library in accordance with the city’s policies and goals.
VCReporter: What happens when a public library goes private?
Jackie Griffin: “We’ve seen it happen in other libraries, but not in libraries close to us. So we haven’t really followed it closely.”
LSSI: LSSI currently partners with the city of Moorpark, another library which opted to leave the Ventura County Library System in favor of a public-private partnership with LSSI. We have been operating the Moorpark library successfully since 2007 and we encourage anyone interested in visiting the library to do so.
What happens to the county employees who worked for the library?
JG: “Some of them reapplied and were offered jobs. Some reapplied and weren’t offered job.”
LSSI: All current Ventura County library employees working at the Camarillo public library who applied and interviewed for a job with LSSI were offered a position.
The CEO of LSSI has recently said that “Lots of libraries are atrocious. 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.” Is this an assault on your profession?
LSSI: Regarding the recent comments attributed to Frank Pezzanite, the CEO of LSSI, Mr. Pezzanite responded with a letter to the editor of The New York Times as follows: “The article portrays LSSI as ambivalent/hostile towards library staff. I want to clarify LSSI’s viewpoint. LSSI is a company of library advocates. We respect the contributions of dedicated librarians and library staff who are often unsung heroes, fostering a love for reading and promoting literacy. LSSI values our staff members; they are responsible for the success of the libraries we operate. Our vision is to ensure public libraries remain free, vibrant centerpieces of their communities.” You can read the letter to the editor in its entirety at: www.lssi.com/news/LSSI%20Letter%20to%20the%20NYT%20Editor.pdf
To make a profit in the library system, will they charge an annual fee?
JG: “We have seen contracts in other places LSSI has contracts, and they get to keep all the fines and lost-book fees created. That’s really interesting. When we have fines and lost-book fees, they go into an account that goes back to the library, and that money goes to buy more books, but it appears LSSI can keep that money.”
LSSI: This statement is completely false. In fact, a review of all of LSSI’s contracts would show that all fines and fees of any type collected from patrons in any libraries operated by LSSI are meticulously tracked and go directly to the governing body, in this case the city of Camarillo.
Mike MeCey is the spokesman for Library Systems & Services, based in Maryland.