Barnet council is mentioned as one of the authorities in talks with a private company, Library Systems & Services UK, about running the libraries service.
The article is about Oxfordshire libraries, but the story gives an idea of how, if at all, LSSI manages to keep costs down in privatised libraries:
Mr Fitzgerald [LSSI's vice president] said the firm would look at cutting staffing and management costs but could not be specific as it had not spoken with the council.UPDATE: Barnet council is not talking to LSSI (not yet, anyway). The reporter mixed Barnet up with Brent. However, it's good that we have found out about LSSI, and I urge you to read the comments below: Mr Fitzgerald of LSSI has written a response to my original blogpost. The mix-up allows us to rehearse our arguments against privatising public services.
He said: “We would relish the opportunity to have a discussion. Some people perceive the involvement of the private sector means selling off the Crown Jewels. We would not own the libraries, the shelves or the books.
“We would simply manage the staff and service, under a five to 15-year contract.”
Mr Fitzgerald said talks with one South of England council looking to close 40 per cent of branches had led LSSI to propose keeping all open without cutting opening hours.
Only one of England’s 151 local authorities, the London Borough of Hounslow, has contracted out its libraries, to private firm John Laing.
But Mr Fitzgerald predicted up to 12 councils would follow by the end of this year and LSSI is working with authorities including Somerset and Barnet on future plans.
And, of course, I've tipped off Brent Fightback about what might be in store for their libraries.