July 21, 2011

Update on van delivery service


I thought I'd send out a quick update on where we are at with the downsized NH State Library van delivery service. It has been a pretty rocky ride since July 1st, when we lost several staff members, including two people that drove supplementary van routes 4 days a week. In addition, a regular van driver has been out since then with a medical situation and is not due back to work for a while yet. So, we've been scrambling to find substitute drivers to keep the vans on the road. Some of you have even seen Ann Hoey and Michael York delivering your books! I plan to help out on one of Monday's van routes (although it's debatable how much help I will be!). So far we have not had to cancel a van route for lack of staff, but that is still a possibility as we cope with illness and vacations.

The newly revised van routes (reductions for several libraries) are functioning, although there are definite issues with at least a couple of the routes. Some libraries are challenged by the limits we placed on the quantity of items we will pick up. We are having problems with overloaded vans and the time drivers spend on the road. We are also finding it challenging sorting the hundreds of items that come back here every day for rerouting to other libraries. We simply do not have enough staff to drive and sort van materials.

We are looking again at the limits now imposed on libraries. I hope to keep the limit at 2 bins per library. I also hope I will not have to make further reductions in the schedule. I will be taking a look at non-ILL items sent on the vans (for instance, maybe libraries should not use the van service to send their book sale extras to other libraries). I will certainly take a look at the current van schedules (when I'm not riding on a van or sorting books) to see if they can be made more efficient. I welcome suggestions as to how we can best solve the problem of providing this service with fewer staff.

In the meantime, please forgive us if you sometimes receive books meant for another library. We have a sort of "all hands on deck" approach to sorting books in the afternoon with inexperienced people helping out (including my husband who is just waiting for me to commute home with him!). And I implore you to read (again) the instructions we have posted on our van service website (http://www.nh.gov/nhsl/services/librarians/van_delivery/index.html). I find far too many libraries are a bit casual with routing labels. Please make sure they are legible! If a book is going to a school or college rather than a public library please make sure that information is prominently written on the label. And all libraries should make sure that items going to a "drop off" library are labeled correctly. I see far too many books not marked correctly. As an example, if you are at the Newington library and request a book, make sure you state that your van drop is Portsmouth. And the library sending the book to Newington should actually mark it "To Portsmouth for Newington." The list of libraries on our van delivery websites clearly states which libraries are receiving materials via drop off at a nearby library.

Again, I thank you for your patience as we try to cope with these changes.

Donna Gilbreth
Reference and Information Services Supervisor
New Hampshire State Library
20 Park St. Concord, NH 03301

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