Thanks to all those who responded to my message.
To summarise the responses:
One example of an contracted service was Westminster city Libraries
business service, which took off with a flourish in the early 90s but then
dwindled and is now a one-person operation offering charged-for services.
There are at least a couple of library-based organisations (Hatrics and
Business Insight at Birmingham) which provide business services on a large
scale through working with local authorities and other partnerships. There
is also a Business Information Service in Denbighshire which has been
funded from European sources. None of these are "outsourced" but have been
set up as separate institutions to provide business services to their areas.
Other than these, I had a couple of comments from people who were strongly
opposed to the idea of outsourcing, and a couple of offers to run the
service for us.
It has been useful to hear people's opinions and experiences. We now await
the results of various meetings!
Senior Librarian: Business and European Information
Essex Libraries Business Information Service