The five shortlisted bidders to run library services in Croydon have been revealed.
Along with Wandsworth Council, the local authority has been working to find a partner to take control of its libraries.
The five shortlisted companies are understood to be LSSI, Civica, Essex County Council, Greenwich Leisure Trust and John Laing.
LSSI (Library Systems and Services) are an American company set up in 1981 who run 17 public libraries in the US.
It has stated it wants to move into the UK market and has said it is committed to working with local councils.
On its website, it said: “No longer will libraries simply sit and wait for their customers to arrive. They will be more proactive, more outgoing and offer the range of educational, leisure and
cultural services that their communities demand.”
Civica manages libraries in Singapore as well as providing support services in Australia, while Essex CC manage library services for Slough and Southend, and Greenwich Leisure Trust are bidding to
manage Greenwich Libraries.
John Laing is a familiar name in Croydon, being the regeneration partner for the council’s urban regeneration vehicle.
But the company has a subsidiary company which runs Hounslow libraries, the only UK library under private contract at the moment.
Campaigners fear the handover will lead to library closures and poorer services.
A Save Croydon Libraries group has been set up to try and ensure services remain the same.
Speaking in February, Croydon’s cabinet member for customer services, culture and sport Councillor Sara Bashford said: “Over the years Croydon has seen substantial cost savings and service
improvements through contracting arrangements such as these and our intention is to see this repeated through this exercise.
“These organisations have shown that they potentially have the vision, expertise and financial backing to deliver modern, efficient and effective library services.
“Closure is not an option for us. Our central library is the third busiest in the country, and last year we consulted widely on the future of all of our branches.
"We got the message loud and clear that these are important community facilities that must be kept open as a matter of priority.”
Both authorities have said all core services should remain free of charge, buildings would remain in public ownership and councillors would continue to control opening times.