Did LSSI Fail to Reveal Litigation?

shell_gameThe hardworking journalists at Yubanet noticed that LSSI is a party to a lawsuit in Florida:

LSSI responded to this question in the RFP:

6.2.4 Please describe any current, pending or past litigation (within the last 5 years) that your organization has been, is, or is expected to be a party to.

LSSI’s Response:

“There is no current, pending or past litigation involving LSSI.” (page 14 of the proposal)

It appears LSSI may have omitted litigation they initiated against the State of Florida in August of 2009. According to the Florida Library Association, “Library Systems & Services (LSSI) has filed a lawsuit against the Florida Division of Library and Information Services. The suit challenges a proposed amendment to State Aid Program Guidelines which requires the head of a public library to be a full-time employee of the single administrative unit.”

The suit is still pending in the Division of Administrative Hearings.

I corresponded by email today with Faye Roberts, Executive Director of the Florida Library Association (FLA), an advocacy organization for Florida libraries and librarians which has filed a Petition to Intervene in this case. The petition supports the rule that LSSI seeks to overturn:

7.  The proposed rule establishes, inter alia, the eligibility requirements for seeking Operating Grants under the State Aid to Libraries grant program.

8. Thirty-six (36) of FLA’s members are either libraries or library cooperatives. A majority of these FLA members receive Operating Grants under the State Aid to Libraries grant program.

9. Operating Grants are established in section 257.17, Florida Statutes, which requires that libraries eligible for these grants

Be operated under a single administrative head who is an employee of the single library administrative unit and who has completed a library education program accredited by the American Library Association. The single administrative head shall have at least 2 years of full-time paid professional experience, after completing the library education program, in a public library that is open to the public for a minimum of 40 hours per week.

It appears that if LSSI prevails in this suit, Florida libraries under its management statewide would no longer qualify for grants under the State Aid to Libraries grant program.

It appears that if LSSI prevails in this suit, Florida libraries under its management statewide would become eligible — as they apparently would not under the proposed eligibility rule described above — for grants under the State Aid to Libraries grant program.

The FLA, in its Petition to Intervene, raises concerns about the deterioration of the professional status of librarians and the professional management of libraries, should LSSI prevail in its effort to block the proposed rule.

Is this an example of how the profit interests of a private library management company and the interests of a public library system are inherently incompatible?  How might this inherent incompatibility play out in Nevada County?

In her email response to me, Faye Roberts said:

There has been quite a bit of concern in Florida communities where outsourcing/privatization has been proposed over the past year or two.

Sarasota County, Seminole County and Hernando County are among those where it has been considered and rejected in light of citizen protests.

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