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Regina: The Library Board will begin evaluating proposals to contract-out work at the Regina Public Library (RPL) next week, after inviting companies across the country to bid on providing materials acquisition, cataloguing and processing services at the main library.

The library workers, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, are dismayed the Board is considering proposals to privatize any services at the Regina Public Library. But they remain confident the review will show that the best option is to keep the work in-house.

All of our research demonstrates the private sector just cant compete with us in the delivery of library services, says union spokesperson Suzanne Posyniak. Were much more efficient than any of the private companies delivering these services and our unit costs are lower.

The Regina Public Library has nearly 8 full-time equivalent positions assigned to purchasing, cataloguing and processing. Several staff members have worked in this area for more than 20 years. Our staff are a tremendous resource. Theyre knowledeable, helpful and extremely cost-effective.

The staff at the Regina Public Library spend 3.4% of their time on cataloguing and processing, much less than the 4.2% of time spent on these services at the Burlington Public Library where the work is provided by a private company. In addition, a consultant hired by the RPL reported that the average unit cost of cataloguing and processing in Ontario libraries where most of the work is done by private contractors is $4.87. The Regina Public Librarys unit costs are much lower, averaging $2.63 for hardcovers, $1.24 for paperbacks and $4.18 for audio-visual materials.

The decision to contract-out library services in Ontario just hasnt paid off, says Posyniak, adding the private companies are making a fortune.


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The union spokesperson also points out that while privatization has become commonplace in Mike Harriss Ontario, it cuts against the grain in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Its not part of our culture at the Regina Public Library, where we always have supported local booksellers and suppliers.

Any decision to privatize these services would have serious consequences for local merchants, she warns.

Ms. Posyniak says it appears the only local proposal under consideration by the Board is to keep the work in-house. No matter what criteria you use, thats the best option for the library, the staff and our community, she states.

The Board is expected to make its decision by the end of May.

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For further information or to obtain a copy of the CUPE brief presented to the Library Board contact Suzanne Posyniak, 525-5874.