Library negotiations begin with LSSI

Eagle Point library
Eagle Point library

The Jackson County Budget Committee unanimously approved an outsourcing bid that could have some library branches open by mid-November. The county will enter into negotiations with Library Systems and Services, commonly known as LSSI. Both parties hope to have a contract finalized by the first of October.
The negotiations are based on a fixed number of operational hours to be dispersed among all 15 branches. While the number of hours per branch is subject to change, and individual communities will have the option to purchase additional hours, the idea is to have branches in Eagle Point, Medford, Ashland, Rogue River, and Central Point, open 24 hours per week; White City, Shady Cove, Phoenix, Talent, Jacksonville, and Gold Hill open 16 hours; and branches in Prospect, Butte Falls, Applegate, and Ruch open eight hours.

A proposal from LSSI prior to the reduced hours model, allowed the
county to operate libraries for one year at $4.3 million, roughly half
the previous budget. The county also reviewed a bid by the Service
Employees International Union Local 503, who represents those
librarians operating the system before doors were closed. After
adjusting both bids to include the same services, the union bid for the
first year of operations was $1.8 million higher than LSSI and would
cost the county upwards of $11 million more over five years.
Jordan, county administrator, admits the solution is not ideal and will
not please everyone. "The bottom line is, at this reduced service level
we can get the libraries open." He and the budget committee lauded the
professionalism and dedication of library staff members. Although they
make no guarantees of employment offers, LSSI has pledged to interview
all interested previous employees for positions in the new system.
budget committee has allocated enough funds to operate the system for
three years out of a one-time allocation called the Secure Rural
Schools and Community Self Determination Act, not the rainy-day fund
designated for public health and safety budgeting shortfalls. Should
funding for libraries not find a place in the county budget past the
three year mark, the cost of operations would require a property tax of
$.33 for every $1,000 of assessed value-half the levy voters twice
While the budget committee was optimistic about
the prospect of having the libraries reopened by the end of the year at
an acceptable cost, they admit that work will continue to offer the
library service that best fits each community, and to secure funding
for that service.  Jordan says, "We’re not going to throw out the door
that this is the fix; this is a transition to the fix." He emphasized
the fact that the county is not contracting with LSSI for the
long-term, that the company has a few years to demonstrate the quality
of service they can provide, and that clear and significant service
benchmarks will be written into the contract and closely monitored.
addition to major contracts with government agencies, including the
Smithsonian and the Library of Congress, LSSI’s proposal boasts of
success in large and small multi-branch library systems. A
community-reading program in Shasta County, California earned the
company a Big Read Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and
the Riverside County, California branches were recognized with an
American Library Association’s John Cotton Dana Public Relations Award.

By Crystal Millien
Of the Independent


Speak Your Mind