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Council unanimously votes to take back library operations


Santa Clarita decided to take back full control of its library system Tuesday evening.

The Santa Clarita City Council voted unanimously to end a contract with Library Systems and Services, LLC, and independently operate and staff the Santa Clarita Public Library system.

“There is not one of us who has not had numerous occasions to visit our libraries, talk with our senior library representatives and to make certain we will continue to function in a responsible manner,” said City Councilman Bob Kellar, who made the motion to approve the city’s decision with Mayor Pro Tem Marsha McLean seconding the motion. “I personally am absolutely delighted that our city staff, as they do in so many departments and aspects in the management of our city, has taken constant review in looking for ways to improve services for the citizens of the city of Santa Clarita…This is huge, ladies and gentlemen.”

LSSI Chief Operating Officer Todd Frager said his company was disappointed the city decided not to renew the contract, but was ultimately supportive of the city.

“They’re just not renewing a contract for convenience, so that’s the way they’re leaving the contract,” he said after the city council meeting. “It’s been a great seven years. We feel very good, very positive about the services we provided and the quality of our staff and our relationship with the city. Certainly, we wish we could have continued the relationship. We always knew it might be an eventual outcome that at some point the city would want to take ownership back in-house of their system.”

Frager said he anticipated the switch over would be uneventful.

The Friends of Santa Clarita Public Library supported the city’s decision. The move looks to save the city about $400,000 in what would be the city’s first fiscal year of operations.

The decision comes nearly seven years after the city pulled the libraries out of the county system and contracted with Library Systems and Services to operate and staff libraries in Newhall, Valencia and Canyon Country.

City documents noted the city initially had success with LSSI as library hours were expanded and the annual budget for books and materials was increased, but the company’s performance has declined in recent years.

According to LSSI, the city library has 103,000 cardholders and has instituted 5,297 programs. LSSI also manages libraries in Palmdale, Simi Valley, Moorpark, Camarillo, and Riverside County.

The city would appropriate $175,241 from the city’s public library fund to pay for the transition and fund 31 full-time library jobs: One city librarian; three library administrators; three senior librarians; 13 librarians; 10 library assistants; and one mail clerk. The transition would take effect July 1.

City documents also said a 2012 state law known as the Public Employee Pension Reform Act that reduced pension costs for new public employees allows for the city to afford staffing the library with city employees and save money.

A city council agenda report said the net cost estimate to operate the library in-house at the same staffing level as the LSSI contract, is $3,388,409, for estimated first-year savings of $393,931.

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