Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Busy Libraries - Happy Customers

As many library staff are aware, building the consortium has had a significant impact on the number of items being shipped between participating libraries.  Whilst this is fantastic for library customers & was one of the intentions of this project, it has put a strain on the courier network which had been used to operating with a fairly constant workload for a number of years.  And of course it has placed considerable strain on library operations as we've reported on this blog here and here.
Last week Toll (our sorting and courier provider) provided me with some statistics that show the estimated items circulated per day (based on an average weight and number of items per black box) has increased 4 fold to around 40,000 a day and continues to grow!!  The graph below charts the increase since before the LMS inception in May 2012.  The rise in materials being shipped has also meant that PLS has had to purchase 600 additional black crates & more will need to be purchased this year.   

TOLL staff have been flexible and proactive in working with PLS to identify and implement appropriate solutions in a rapidly changing and somewhat unpredictable environment.  For metropolitan libraries on the LMS we have introduced additional delivery sites and pre-sorting of materials as we discussed here.  This has not only minimised the amount of sorting and manual handling done by library staff but also avoids issues faced by some libraries that are not set up for deliveries of pallets of material on trucks.  Also, on some routes TOLL now has vehicles dedicated to the freighting of public library materials rather than carrying materials for both public libraries and other TOLL customers.

Significant changes such as these have increased the value of the TOLL contract and this continues to be a cost pressure for PLS that will need to be managed into the future.
PLS staff will continue to work with TOLL and libraries to manage the transition.  If you have any feedback or need to report a TOLL issue, please contact us on  dlplscourier@sa.gov.au 

Update:  Staff from a library ran a report on the LMS and identified that the number of items with a status of "in transit" was well below the 40,000 items as identified as the average number that Toll is handling on a daily basis.  I should have pointed out when I wrote this post that when an item is requested it goes through the Toll depot on its way to the destination library, and then it goes back through the Toll depot on its way back to the owning library.  So every loan created generates two sorting "counts" by Toll.  

Also it should be noted that the "in transit" status is also used for items that are transiting between local library branches - which means these items don't go through Toll.  

With these different ways of counting and differing courier systems operating there is no way that we can accurately compare the items going through Toll to loans being created by the system.  As we develop our reporting systems I will report on the amount of inter-library lending that occurs.

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