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Library Materials Handling Strategy Analysis
Stark County District Library was pursuing a series of initiatives to minimize redundancy in materials handling practices and reduce the time staff spend in the back office so they can spend more time out in the library engaging with customers in a variety of ways. The Library’s strategic vision included a dramatic reduction of materials handling activities in each branch and the elimination of service desks. Instead of working behind desks, the expectation is that staff will work with patrons side-by-side in the branches and spend more time delivering high-quality programming inside and outside of the library buildings. In order to achieve this vision, the Library explored a “pure central processing” strategy in which material is returned at each library location but only checked in at a central sorter. This workflow would be supported by two times daily delivery service. The expectation is that this approach would result in material check-in within a four hour window, physical delivery turnaround times of no more than 36 hours and a traditional “bookdrop” workflow for patrons. The Library sought consulting assistance to analyze the “pure central processing” strategy and to identify critical elements of a materials handling strategy that would allow the Library to achieve their strategic vision.