February 17, 2018

Oregon County Where System Closed Considers LSSI

By Norman Oder

After a levy election May 15 failed to resurrect the closed Jackson County Library Services, Medford, OR, some in the county are entertaining the notion of outsourcing the 15-branch system to Library Systems & Services, LLC (LSSI). A May 26 article in the Medford Mail Tribune quoted Jim Olney, the executive director of the Jackson County Library Foundation, as suggesting it could save 40 percent of the library’s budget – though an LSSI executive said he couldn’t actually calculate cost savings.

"We have to look seriously at it," Olney told the newspaper, pointing out that voters opposed levies in two elections over seven months. Olney suggested that LSSI saves by reducing the number of managers and by consolidating services, according to the newspaper, but didn’t point out that certain compensation, notably pensions, would be significantly different, as LJ explained in a 2004 feature article.

Given that Jackson County’s libraries cost $39 per capita, LSSI VP Bob Windrow suggested, "If you look at the gross numbers, it looks like there might be an opportunity to do outsourcing to bring economic relief." Ruth Metz, a consultant in Portland, OR who had previously analyzed LSSI’s work in Riverside County, CA, said that LSSI did a good job with the resources it has in Riverside, but noted that the system – which is poorly funded – isn’t comparable to Jackson County, which has more than double the funding. Even if the county chose LSSI, deputy county administrator Harvey Bragg pointed out, the county would still have to find a funding source.

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