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Subject: Intra-library shipping

Intra-library shipping

From: Robert L. DeCandido <bronxbob>
Date: Wednesday, May 27, 1992
>I am particularly interested in any guidelines for packing
>and the kinds of packing materials used.
I wrote a two part article in my Out of the Question column in CAN, Nos.
43 (October 1990) and 44 (January 1991) about inter- and intralibrary
shipping. The question I was answering was:
"Those of us in public library or multi-type networks where circulation
is high have added a whole new level of materials handling to our
responsibilities.  This is the transfer of books from one agency to
another.  I have seen my delivery load rise from 10,000 books a few
years ago to well over 100,000 this year.  A colleague working in a
suburban county system tells me that fully one-third of their annual
circulation of 8,000,000 is transported from one agency to another.

All of this transportation is putting tremendous stress on our books.
Do you have any thoughts about containers?  The humble canvas bag is
still the weapon of choice although we are moving to rigid plastic tubs
in some cases.  Our network has developed recommended containers for AV
materials which handle individual items fairly well." From: Anne
Reynolds, Director, Wellesley Free Library, Wellesley, MA.
Here are a few parts of my reply:

The question does not specify whether items are shipped individually or
in bulk.  It seems likely that for intra- system transportation, items
are collected in bulk, sorted and delivered in bulk using some sort of
container such as the canvas bag mentioned by Ms. Reynolds.  Since the
requirements for individual and bulk shipping are so different it is
unlikely that we will find a single solution but will probably need
several options that could be employed as needed.  Another factor which
the question does not specify is the carrier that is used.  This, again,
may vary from a library system's own trucks delivering between branches
to a common carrier such as the Postal Service or UPS for inter-system
shipping.  This, in turn, has a bearing on the kinds of handling that
may be expected and the kinds of packaging that may be required.
Another factor which any solution must accommodate is the need for a high
volume of use.  This has several repercussions.  It means that the cost
per shipment must be low.  It means that the packaging must be easy and
quick to do.  It means that supplies must be very cheap or reusable and
in either case easy to store in bulk.
These requirements have to be weighed against the preservation
considerations where they are opposed.  Those considerations can be
summarized as follows:
1. The material should be protected from environmental damage, primarily

2. It should be protected against damage from handling, e.g. shock from
impact, abrasion from friction, distortion from pressure;

3. The packaging should provide a means of labeling for address or
shipping instructions.
To accomplish these goals the packaging must immobilize the material
relative to itself (so that it does not distort), and relative to its
container (so that it does not bang around inside).  It must also cover
or contain the material.
Considering the number of items being shipped each year it is obvious
that providing an adequate and inexpensive shipping container would be
lucrative endeavor.  Some research and product development on this topic
has already been done...
The Research Libraries Group (RLG) in its "Preservation Manual" has a
set of "Interlibrary Loan Wrapping and Packaging Guidelines" (pp.14-15).
Understandably these guidelines presuppose a research library
environment of relatively valuable material.  They do not prescribe any
particular type of container and are stated in a very general manner.
The working assumption of these guidelines is that they are for single
item loans, that they will be sent by common carrier and that they are
concerned only with books and microfilm.  For all these reasons the RLG
Guidelines are of limited help in the present discussion. Though the
urgency of this question is recent the problem itself is not.  As long
ago as 1962 the American Library Association (ALA) Library Technology
Project (LTP) commissioned Container Laboratories, Corp. to "develop,
test and evaluate a package or packages, for single book volumes...which
will adequately protect contents in Parcel Post and Railway Express
shipments." (Container Laboratories, Corp., "Report on the development
and evaluation of improved packaging for shipping single volume
inter-library loan books." p. 3)  This investigation lead to the
creation of a shipping container patent assigned to ALA (Patent No.
3,211,283, Oct. 12, 1965).  It consists of a rigid shell that looks very
much like the two part container used in shipping reels of movie film.
Inside are two wide straps, which the patent refers to a slings, secured
to the bottom at right angles to one another.  The slings have Velcro on
them and can be wrapped around the volume and fastened to hold it
tightly in place.  There are straps with buckles on the outside that
hold the container closed and together in shipping.  This ingenious
design worked quite well and was, for a while, carried as regular supply
by Demco.  By about 1971 they were no longer available.  When, in 1976,
RLG was investigating shipping containers for interlibrary loan they had
to find a supplier to make a test run of 100 in four different sizes.
The RLG test found the containers to be "successful in protecting
materials and have been used actively by RLG members."  (Memo from Jim
Skipper to RLG Coordinators, October 31,1978)  From there the records I
have access to are not clear but whether or not RLG ordered more of the
containers they do not seem to be in use any longer. *****
The rest of the article goes on (yes, it's even longer than this) to
discuss various container options, costs, pros and cons. I have copies
of the RLG documents if your interested in seeing them.
This is an area I'm *quite* interested in so I'll be interested to know
what you find out. This might be a good time to interest suppliers such
as Demco and LBS in making and stocking the ALA containers or some new
Robert DeCandido
bronxbob [at] well__sf__ca__us

                  Conservation DistList Instance 5:59
                   Distributed: Friday, May 29, 1992
                        Message Id: cdl-5-59-007
Received on Wednesday, 27 May, 1992

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