Library logistics again: a UK report

Lorcan 1 min read

MLA in the UK has been working with PriceWaterhousCoopers on a framework for shared purchasing across UK public library authorities. They published a report a while ago, at which time I wrote:

I have suggested in these pages that logistics is a central part of what we do. Logistics is about moving information, materials and services through a network cost-effectively. Resource sharing is supported by a library logistics apparatus. The emerging e-resource discovery to delivery chain, tied together with resolution services, is a logistics challenge. Many of the e-resource management issues are like supply-chain management issues. Increasingly, as libraries look at shared solutions for off-site storage, e-resource management, digitization and archiving they run into logistics and supply-chain management questions. They are looking for efficiencies within the system, whether that system is a consortium, a network of suppliers, or some other grouping. [Lorcan Dempsey’s weblog: Library logistics (again)]

A new report has now appeared [pdf]. From the press release:

Better Stock, Better Libraries outlines a national library purchasing model. The new procurement arrangements, which maintain local accountability for stock selection, would mean better availability and more efficient management of stock, more flexibility to meet local needs and reduced unit costs of stock. Local authorities would have more money and resources to reinvest in refreshed book stocks, improved information and communications technology, longer opening hours and more staff helping customers get the best out of their local library. [MLA – Press Releases – Blueprint for better book buying boosts libraries]

Interestingly, the website notes that there is considerable duplication of effort, that 40% of the price of a book is spent on procurement, and that public library authorities buy 80-90% “the same type of books and other material” (I am not quite sure what this last means).
The argument presented is that consolidation and streamlining the acquisition supply chain will introduce systemwide efficiencies which in turn will free up resources to concentrate on improving local services. The report notes that distribution and logistics networks are key to the proposals and their design and implementation are a priority (p.26). They also note that logistics companies from outside the sector may be interested in supporting the proposed services (p.56).
Coincidentally, I find myself repeating various comments I made on Science Library Pad’s discussion of logistics the other day.

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