February 17, 2018

Bedford, TX City Council, in 4-3 Vote,Rejects Outsourcing Library to LSSI

By Norman Oder

After an intense petition campaign and facing a crowd urging that local management of the Bedford Public Library, TX, be maintained, the Bedford City Council last night voted 4-3 against outsourcing library management to Library Systems and Services, LLC (LSSI). According to former library board chair dona weisman [who uses lower-case for her name], who along with two others was dismissed from the board owing to their criticism of a pro-outsourcing City Council member, the Council chambers overflowed with some 200 people, nearly all opponents of the outsourcing plan. In four days, opponents gathered nearly 1700 signatures. The pro-outsourcing Council member, Charles Orean, moved to accept the $652,740 proposal from LSSI, which would cost more than $100,000 less than the $764,626 bid from the library managers but would not guarantee the same local knowledge or staffing. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that library managers budgeted for 16.38 FTE, while LSSI budgeted for 14 FTE.

LSSI’s response to the city’s request for a proposal was said to be confidential, because it contained “trade secrets and/or privileged or confidential or financial information.” Because that prohibited discussion at the Council’s meeting, and because the topic would not qualify for an Executive Session under state law, the city asked the State Attorney General to rule as to whether parts of the document could be disclosed. Some 36 hours before the meeting last night, LSSI agreed to allow disclosure of the entire document, thus leading to details about proposed staffing and more. Bedford, northeast of Fort Worth, has a population of a little less than 50,000; four smaller communities in Texas have contracted with LSSI.

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