Inside Access: Interlibrary Loan Shipping Task Force: A cost savings initiative

by Carolyn Muse, Interlibrary Loan

The Interlibrary Loan (ILL) Shipping Task Force Committee was charged in August 2016 to reduce duplicate packages being shipped to the same institution on the same day. The members of this committee are: Bernie Whitehill (Chair), Tracy Deitrich, Carolyn Muse, Alissa Mann, Tracie Wickersham, and Jennifer Funk. This was a good time to examine ILL’s shipping practices since ILL recently moved shipping of all packages under the IDS (Interlibrary Delivery Service of Pennsylvania) Nationwide Shipping Initiative. The Initiative allows us, as an IDS member, to mail materials via IDS to libraries regardless if the library is an IDS member. The yearly IDS member fee is based on the number of packages sent the previous year. Reducing the number of packages shipped per day should result in overall IDS shipping cost savings.

The task force evaluated methods to improve distribution of out-going mail loads, reduce the number of duplicate packages, and to help ensure that packages adhere to a 30 lb. weight limit, an IDS restriction. The committee collaborated with Receiving Room staff to assign out-going ILL mail on separate carts, e.g. Big Ten, IDS and Commonwealth Campus Libraries (CCL), and designated specific pick-up times to suit the Receiving Room’s schedule.

side of interlibrary loan cart for mail going to the Big Ten libraries

The Interlibrary Loan Department and Receiving Room finalized the current out-going mail pick-up times in October:

  • Morning (~ 9:00 a.m.) —
    First Class/International/UPS and materials with letter codes (e.g. CLU, TXA).
  • Afternoon (~1:00 p.m.) —
    First Class, DSL-Carlisle and IDS materials with number codes (e.g. IDS 189 corresponds with University of Pennsylvania).
  • Afternoon (~2:00 p.m.) — Big Ten materials (formerly CIC).

IDS daily shipping reports were analyzed for one week in March and July, and then for each week in October and November. The data from March and July were pilot studies to compare a heavy work day for spring semester versus a slow work day during summer session II. The data from October and November were analyzed more in depth to determine any differences in package weights and duplicate packages. After implementing the current shipping methods in October:

  • Total duplicate instances decreased by 44 percent / CCL duplicate instances decreased
    by 49 percent.
  • The occurrence of combined packages totaling over 30 lbs. decreased by 31percent. CCL packages totaling over 30 lbs. decreased by 40 percent.

Duplicate packages will not be completely eliminated due to other departments contributing to the daily out-going mail loads; however, Interlibrary Loan will continue the current shipping protocols in place and evaluate if any changes are needed.