As much as we like to think that libraries are unique, they actually operate much like a supply chain system with central distribution centers and retail outlets. Obviously, there are differences but when it comes to materials handling, an area in which I do a lot of consulting, the similarities are striking. Both industries distribute material to outlets, require complex logistics systems, require accurate sorting and picking, and employ self-service technologies.
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I’ve done my share of software and hardware procurements – not as many as some consultants – but enough to know my way around an RFP (Request for Proposal). And the truth is that RFPs are really horrible. They are full of contract language that few people understand and, unfortunately, they are often loaded with requirements that the Library doesn’t understand; or worse, requirements that the vendors themselves don’t understand!
I’ve seen the same RFP issued by many different libraries. Some of these RFPs were actually created by the vendor and has a few gotcha requirements that ensure their competitors will get the boot. I’ve also seen RFPs that have conflicting requirements – this happens when the Library doesn’t understand the requirements they’ve included.
But the development of an RFP has the opportunity to be an empowering experience for the library if it is done correctly. However, this requires leadership and time. It’s not as simple as doing a couple focus groups and checking off the requirements from someone else’s RFP.
My column begins like this....
"I recently read The Secret Code: The Mysterious Formula that Rules Art, Nature, and Science by Priya Hemenway. It is a book about the Divine Proportion or the Golden Ratio. The Golden Ra-tio is roughly five to eight (more precisely the square root of five). It turns up in nature in nu-merous ways and you see these proportions over and over again in art and architecture be-cause it resonates with us in some mystical way.
Collaborative Librarianship has published its first issue of 2013. It looks like a great issue with an editorial by our editor, Ivan Gaetz, entitled "Compelling and Necessary Momentum: A Recent Timeline in Open Access" and an articlbe about Orbis-Cascade Alliance's selection of Alma for their shared library system as just one piece of their merging services.
My column, Technology Matters, talks about the Library Communication Framework. It starts like this...
This one-day presentation and workshop was sponsored by the libraries in SE Wisconsin including Waukesha County Federated Library System and Milwaukee Public, and UW-Milwaukee. The session included a three-hour presentation that introduced RFID technology and then worked through all the issues relevant to libraries considering or using RFID in libraries.
Presentation about the Open Source resource-sharing product, Fulfillment, and what is happening in California with it (small pilot testing group), and how it could affect the future of resource-sharing in California.
The short presentation was followed by an energetic discussion about resource-sharing issues in California.
Infopeople webinar highlighting the trends in materials handling including:
- Pricing of AMH systems going down
- Quality of AMH systems going up
- Automated check-in with sorting becoming standard
- Kiosks a hit but still a tad buggy
Lots of info about automated check-in systems, small sorters, advancements in sefl-check-in technology, kiosks and dispensers and new AMH products entering the market.
Co-presented this session with Alan Kirk Gray (Darien Library), Gretchen Freeman (Salt Lake County Library) and John Callahan (Palm Beach County Library). Session was sponsored by PLA.
I provided the overview of the materials handling automation market and then each presenter talked about what they learned about how to reduce operating expenses as part of their implementation and operation of an automated materials handling system.
Our key take-aways: