Germantown, MD, June 17, 1997 -- California's Riverside County Board of Supervisors today awarded full responsibility for the operation and management of its 25 library branches, including bookmobile service and reading rooms, to Library Systems and Services (LSSI) of Germantown, MD. The award marks the first time ever that a public library system of this size will be operated by a private firm.
According to LSSI's Chief Operating Officer, Frank A. Pezzanite, "We know that we really have to make a great showing here. We're a company of librarians and we've served the library community for more than sixteen years. We're going to use existing staff and our people, experience, and resources to make Riverside County Free Library System a showplace for public/private partnerships."
Throughout the life of the contract, LSSI is committed to having Riverside County's libraries open more hours, staffing them with a greater number of personnel, and earmarking more dollars for collection development. All materials selection and acquisitions will be subject to the materials selection policy and collection development plan approved by the Riverside County Librarian.
One reason the Riverside County Board of Supervisors chose LSSI over other bidders was that LSSI mapped out a plan that would provide citizens with a robust library system despite the 30% funding reduction the library has experienced as a result of changes in state and local tax revenue allocation.
"It's no secret that there are not a lot of dollars available," says Tom DeSantis, Deputy County Executive Officer. "You can expect the Riverside County Free Library to be a very streamlined operation. We believe that LSSI's approach can create substantial efficiencies and savings that can make each of the dollars we do have go as far as possible."
To help those dollars buy not only service but also innovation, LSSI has created an Advisory Council of nationally recognized professional experts in the public library service -- including a former Executive Director of the American Library Association and three past Presidents of the Public Library Association. The library staff in Riverside County will have a chance to get help directly from the most experienced and forward-thinking public librarians in the country.
Operating out of County-owned office space, LSSI's project management team has made a commitment not only to hire any of the existing Riverside County staff who want to come on board, but also to hire them with their base salaries and seniority intact. LSSI will also actively recruit previous professional and paraprofessional library staff, laid off during past library budget cuts.
In cooperation with Riverside County, LSSI will conduct a detailed six-month needs assessment for each of the County's libraries, and will use this assessment to develop both a short term action plan and a long range library development plan.
"We may use the efficiencies of automation and operational streamlining," Pezzanite explained. "But we know that the real breakthroughs come not from technology, but from people. That's where the real power of our partnership will be: to use our know-how to empower librarians to use all their skills, training, and energy to create a system equal to the growing demands of today's citizens."
LSSI has been providing collaborative library services since 1981. Today, LSSI is the largest commercial provider of library management services in the US, with more libraries under contract than any other company.
LSSI's reputation for value oriented services continues to grow as libraries increasingly are faced with the challenge of doing more with less. LSSI supports library administrators with innovative methods for using financial and professional resources more effectively as new technologies place increased demands on library resources.
Drawing on its long record of outstanding results working with libraries such as the Library of Congress, Smithsonian Institution, and the Boston Public Library, LSSI has the management experience and the technical expertise to provide administrators with a wide range of options, enhanced levels of service, and greater control over operational costs.
Riverside County, geographically, is the fourth largest county in the State of California and the sixth largest in population. It is one of the fastest growing large counties in the nation. With over 1.4 million residents, Riverside County has a larger population than 13 states.
For additional information, please contact: LSSI: Bob Windrow at 301-540-5100, ext. 227 Riverside County Deputy County Executive Officer: Tom DeSantis, 909-275-1100