The Richmond Public Library (RPL) website details an impressive history, chronicling the concept of a library’s presence in the city starting in 1812 and serves as a testament to the community and staff who have been steadfast in its continuous evolution. The first city librarian, Thomas Parker Ayer, would probably not recognize most of the services and programs that the library offers today but surely, he would be impressed.
Erin Brallier has not been with the library long as Senior Librarian for Technical Services, but she has already made a huge impact on the library’s operations and continuing that strong tradition of ensuring that the library is serving its community in the ways that the patrons of RPL need currently.
Since starting at RPL, Erin has basically overhauled the Technical Services department. Almost immediately after stepping into her new role, Erin identified that her patrons deserved a collection that is highly browsable with the newest titles available on street date. She also needed a way to help her branch staff to deaccession those books that were simply taking up precious shelf space. And she needed ways to better get rid of the books that were being discarded.
Erin also knew that she could not achieve all of the work that was necessary with the small staff at the library. So, she immediately set out to identify vendor partners who could help her achieve her three primary goals:
· Get new books to the library when her patronswant to read them,
· Get books off the shelves after theirpopularity wanes, and,
· Create efficiencies for the staff so thatturnover of books was manageable.
With those goals in mind, she knew she needed to do this work without extra staff or money. In fact, Erin wanted to consolidate her material dollars so she could buy more books during the time when they are most popular.
To achieve these goals, Erin began talks with Ingram, knowing that her previous library successfully utilized that relationship for many years. While setting up EDI and shelf-ready cataloging and processing, her Senior Sales Representative, Eileen Armour, encouraged Erin to also look at Ingram’s newest offering, the inDemand program, an alternative to a traditional lease program. Erin’s director had repeatedly suggested that Erin look to a lease program. But, knowing that a traditional lease had drawbacks such as a lot of overhead in managing the program and little flexibility to change the scope of the budget or selections throughout the year, Erin was reluctant to go that route.
After meeting with the Ingram team and learning about the program, Erin decided to be an early adopter of inDemand. She was attracted to the idea that Ingram was firmly committed to getting titles to the library before street date, she didn’t have to put down a large sum of money to enroll, and that there were no minimums.
She did have to make some compromises with spine labels that were not customizable and that the processing profiles were all standardized. But those minor issues were far outweighed by the advantages of the program – totally flexible buying patterns, no limitations on the types of materials she chooses to purchase, and the transparent pricing.
Plus, being an early adopter, Erin was able to provide valuable feedback on the program to Ingram and was instrumental in having the processing profiles modified to better suit the needs of a busy library that needs materials that can withstand a lot of handling.
In addition to subscribing to inDemand, Erin needed an easy way for her librarians to weed books and then to dispose of them. Her current solution was cumbersome and required a lot of steps between the branches, the technical services department, her Friends group and with the current company who she discarded books to that required every book be scanned. So, at the same time she was implementing inDemand, Erin decided to partner with Thriftbooks to discard all of the materials she was removing from the collection. Not only could she dispose of her inDemand books, RPL could use Thriftbooks to take all of her unwanted donations and their regularly weeded materials. Plus, the money the library earned on Thriftbooks sales would be deposited back to her Ingram accounts to help pay for future orders.
RPL now has Ingram shelf-ready cataloging and processing for all collections, inDemand for hot/new titles, and a partnership with Thriftbooks to take those items the library no longer needs. These smart decisions will allow the library staff at RPL to get on with the work that vendor partners can’t do – working with their patrons and making sure they have the books they want and the services they deserve.
Just as Richmond Public Library’s website chronicles a library that has adapted significantly over the years to meet the changing needs of a changing city, inDemand, partnered with Thriftbooks, is allowing Erin to meet the needs of her patrons with what they need now. And the flexibility of the program will allow her to easily adapt the program as those needs change in the future.
"Joining the pilot program, inDemand, was a no-brainer for Richmond Public Library since it allows us to now be the library (of many) to go for new and engaging materials. Add in the incentive to work with such a collaborative and supportive team at Ingram, I can’t wait to see the positive impact this program will have on our collection. " - Erin Brallier, Richmond Public Library