Delivery Services – April 2011 Update

MLS is pleased to announce that we are negotiating an agreement with Optima Shipping to provide statewide delivery services beginning July 1, 2011. Optima has strong positive experience in this area. Optima has been providing library delivery services in southeast Massachusetts for several years and in the Boston area and for cross-state service for over eight months.

MLS has scheduled a public meeting to introduce the new vendor, describe the new services, and answer your questions. This meeting will also be a live web cast. It is scheduled for May 4, 2011 at 10:00 am at the MLS-Whately offices.

We had several goals during this procurement process. The major goals were to provide overnight statewide delivery and at the same time reduce the workload at libraries for processing incoming and outgoing items. We plan to replicate current delivery schedules and frequency as much as possible. Optima has developed a system that allows libraries to ship without the need to place a label (transit slip) on each outgoing item. We call it sort-to-light. When your network is ready to convert to sort-to-light shipping, Optima sorting staff will scan the external barcode on items to determine the destination.

MLS will be phasing in new totes for libraries formerly served in central and western Massachusetts. More information will be distributed on this as July 1st approaches.

This will save the library time to prepare, print, and place a label on each outgoing item. It also eliminates the steps and waste of removing and discarding the label on incoming items. This is a greener process. Libraries will use less paper and they will discard less paper. Libraries can re-purpose label printers for other uses.

In March 2009 the Massachusetts Statewide Delivery Committee established a barcode placement policy to prepare for label-less shipping. All networked libraries were asked to place the barcode horizontally on the front of the item at the top left-hand corner. This step will now begin to pay off for networked libraries.

Libraries in the SAILS Library Network have been using this sort-to-light shipping process for over six months. Olivia Melo, Director of the Lakeville Library said, “It has simplified our workflow in a way we weren’t expecting! The time taken to locate the pre-printed slip, put it in the book and place it in the bin seemed minimal until the day we found that simply scanning the book and putting it in the bin saved us a great amount of time! We now find ourselves resenting the handling of items that don’t have a barcode on the outside!” For a video testimonial from Janet Campbell, Director of the Mansfield Public Library, please click here. For a video testimonial from Michelle Gagnon, Head of Circulation of the Somerset Public Library, please click here.

Many networks and libraries are not yet ready for sort-to-light. This is not a problem. Optima will sort using the traditional label-based sorting method until your network is ready.

MLS would like to assist libraries in preparing for sort-to-light. We are establishing a group purchase and rental program to make it easier and less expensive. We are also interested in purchasing used machines in good working order from libraries that have completed barcoding projects. If you are interested in group purchase or rental, please fill out the online form. [Update: Duplicators are now available for rent and purchase. For more information, please contact delivery@masslibsystem.org.]

We anticipate many questions about these changes. Individual networks have specific needs that will be planned with network staff, the Contractor, and MLS. Please review our FAQ (link) and feel free to submit additional questions there. Or, join us at one of the informational meetings (schedule link) to ask in person. We will also be holding webcast informational meeting.

As a final note, MLS expresses its appreciation and gratitude to the many individuals from libraries and networks who worked with us during this lengthy process.

For Delivery Policies to be implemented beginning July 1, 2011, please visit our policies page.

For Frequently Asked Questions regarding statewide delivery changes and policies, please see our FAQ page.