Tuesday, November 29, 2005
CLA and Canada Post have jointly launched a new "shipping tool" for libraries to use when sending interlibrary loans in the mail using the Library Mail Rate. The tool is being marketed as an improvement for libraries that will be a "a fast and convenient way to prepare and pay for your library book shipments in Canada. " It looks like it will also be used to track the LMR's usage and "help ensure the future of the Library Book Rate by providing critical data necessary to confirm the importance of this program for the library community."
I'm trying really hard to be upbeat about this new development. But, right off the hop I see an issue for small libraries: In order to use the tool a library will need to pay by credit card or meter, two payments methods I know a lot of the libraries in my area do not have ready access to. CLA is soliciting feedback and I plan to inform them of this and some other logistical problems that will arise for the libraries I work with, such as:
- inappropriately sized labels (is there a way they can be modified?)
- having to enter address information for each package (can this somehow be linked to a directory such as Library and Archive Canada's ILL Directory on the Web to automatically pull in address info using a library's National Library Code?)
- there will be extra costs for printing that libraries will need to absorb (maybe not such a big deal for larger libraries, but for smaller libraries with very limited budgets, it does make a difference)
I think the thing that is making me a bit cranky is that it appears that instead of dealing with the current problems with the LMR such as the non-inclusion of audiovisual materials, CLA and Canada Post seem to have instead focused on more "information gathering" (in spite of the fact that some very good information has already been gathered and sent to decision-makers). Not only that, but they are doing it using a "tool" that will, in many instances, put a greater burden on smaller libraries, who rely very heavily on Canada Post and the LMR for their ILLs.
However, to put a positive spin on it, if the tool can be tweaked to allow for even greater streamlining, I think it could be really valuable. (The tracking feature will be very handy). Guess we'll have to stay tuned...