UK firm gets contract to supply Irish libraries

Three local authorities have been criticised over indications that a contract to supply library books will be granted to a British company.

South Dublin County Council, Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council, and Fingal County Council awarded the tender for adult fiction and adult non-fiction — worth €750,000 — to Bertram Library Services in Britain.

Irish library suppliers have warned it could cost jobs here while ministers and the National Procurement Agency are likely to receive letters of complaint over the process.

Writing on the blog for the Hackett Flynn Publishers’ Agency, which represents children’s publishers north and south of the border, founder Conor Hackett stated that “for supply of both fiction and non-fiction books to DLR [Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown], Fingal, and Dublin South [worth approximately €750,000] has just been awarded to Bertram Library Services in the UK”.

Frank O’Mahony of O’Mahony’s, the country’s largest library book suppliers, yesterday confirmed that they had been informed they had not been awarded the tender and that it was going to be awarded to Bertram.

A spokeswoman for Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council said it was the local authority’s intention to award two tenders to a British company, with two other tenders — for junior fiction/non-fiction and computer games — to Irish firms.

She said local authorities were obliged under EU laws to open tendering processes to non-Irish companies.

It is understood that a third tender, for the supply of juvenile books, has been awarded to an Irish company.

Mr O’Mahony said: “We certainly have not been awarded the tender.

“We have been led to believe the tender has been awarded to Bertram.”

His company, he said, would be writing to the National Procurement Agency and relevant minister to express concerns over the possible ramifications for the industry here.

Mr Hackett, meanwhile, wrote: “The local authorities will perhaps save a few cent on each book initially through this deal but I suspect they will lose out on many other benefits. Irish library suppliers work with publishers representatives to bring authors to tour libraries and they also sponsor library events around the country.

“Irish library suppliers employ hundreds of people, support Irish publishers and Irish authors and illustrators and of course their business supports many jobs in the areas of indigenous publishing and foreign publisher representatives and agents.”

It is understood that Bertram secured the tender on the basis of cost, but one Irish source said there had been pressure from the upper levels of the local authorities “to be seen to be getting value for money” even though it could cost the Irish economy in other ways.

It is understood Irish- based representatives of publishing companies are also concerned the decision could lead to the loss of jobs.

Jaimie Dorward, commercial director with Bertram Library Services, yesterday said she could not comment on the tender process.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

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