Thursday, May 04, 2006

WAPL 2006: Get in the Van: The State of the Wisconsin Libraries' Delivery Network

Library delivery service may not be a "sexy" topic (and I quote), but did you know delivery sorters are some of the best judges of the zeitgeist, just based on what flows through their networks every week? Bruce Smith, Tim Drexler, and Troy Baumann from SCLS Delivery made good mileage on the topic in this session.

Bruce thanked the tireless drivers and the early decisionmakers that contibuted to the current quality of the network. He cited the "Mendoza line" of any courier service to be the cost of postage, and any delivery that beats that price is a successful service.

He predicted that while demand for audio and video materials may eventually shift to digital versions, the demand for books was and is rising constantly. RFID is a technology to keep an eye on, but for now the complexity of a system that would get a good return on investment is still too high to be practical.

Tim covered special services, including the part SCLS Delivery is now playing moving a Very Special Arts show around the state. He also gave a tour of the Delivery web site and Joined at the Backbone blog for state delivery network news.

The Library Emporium garnered awe when Troy showed that proceeds to libraries have topped $30,000 and 3500 items, sold by 53 libraries to customers on almost every continent, through the Emporium's ebay store. People have told Troy he's "doing the Lord's work," but he himself says it's a reward to fill collections instead of landfills. He invited libraries to get in touch with him about participating in the Emporium.

Bruce mentioned the physical challenge that library delivery shares with the beverage industry, in that drivers lift 40-pound loads and cart them through tight, dockless spaces day in and day out. SCLS is piloting the use of hand carts to manage this challenge.

SCLS Delivery's new red hand truck at WAPL 2006

He wrapped up with some "badages" like, "We must sort to transport" and "The route must go out," with props to the late Johnnie Cochran.

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