Book bind - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Posted by: George Metaxas. 7/20/04, 6:22 p.m.

Book bind

New details in our Target 5 investigation into the company picked to manage the Germantown Library. Monday night we told you how L-S-S-I had left other libraries in a book bind. Putting public libraries in the hands of private companies can be controversial. But our investigation found at least one case where the controversy with L-S-S-I wasn't philosophical but financial. For the most part, the company the City of Germantown hired to run it's library system, Maryland-based L-S-S-I, has a solid reputation. But not in Fargo, North Dakota. Helen Levitt, Fargo Library Board said, "I feel like I have an obligation to keep the name of the Fargo Public Library in good standing." In August 2003, the Fargo Library Board voted to cut ties with L-S-S-I after just eight months, unhappy the company failed to pay several bills from the library's vendors on time. "It's not LSSI's name on that overdue list. It's the Fargo Public Library." A spokesperson for L-S-S-I told us of the split, "It was a much smaller issue and there were many other issues going on. It wasn't as prominent a factor as it might appear." Still one Germantown official who helped hammer out that City's deal with L-S-S-I told us, at that time, he didn't know about the feud in Fargo. But said, "A contract is a contract and we have written in it what they need to do in terms of performance, and if they don't meet those performance standards then the city can take action as outlined in the agreement," including canceling that agreement. And in Collierville, now considering it's own contract with L-S-S-I, James Lewellen, Town Administrator said, "My first reaction was, I hope we don't have a serious problem here." To reduce the town's exposure, L-S-S-I would only oversee personnel. The town itself would pay the bills. "I'm pretty confident that we have a system set up in place that we won't run into any embarrassment if we do go with them." Collierville is still trying to work out a deal with the City of Memphis to keep the Collierville Library part of the county-wide system. If it can't, the plan, despite the Fargo fiasco, is to sign L-S-S-I.

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