New Acquisitions Agreement Speeds Book Delivery and Processing

In September 1996, the Library implemented an arrangement with Yankee Book Peddler (YBP) which will allow speedier delivery of new books to the shelves, while at the same time lowering costs for materials and reducing demand on Library staff.

Under this arrangement, which covers English language materials published in the United States, YBP selects new publications that meet sets of selection criteria developed by Library bibliographers in various subject areas (called "profiles"), and automatically ships the books to the Library for review before purchase. Those titles which fall outside the profiles still require title-by-title selection by Library bibliographers, but YBP has streamlined this process as well by developing a database of in-depth information on all new publications. Bibliographers review the titles within their profiles in the online database and tag titles they wish to order from YBP electronically; acquisitions staff then complete the orders using the same database for importing bibliographic records.

As a result, those books shipped automatically to the Library now arrive much sooner after publication than previously, and can be processed and sent to the shelf much more quickly using YBP's online bibliographic database. Books selected title-by-title are also made ready for use much more quickly than was previously possible without the efficient electronic communication of bibliographic data between bibliographers, acquisitions and cataloging staff, and the vendor. The online database also helps to ensure that all volumes of a given series have been secured, and that orders for the same title are not duplicated.

In addition, Yankee Book Peddler gives the University a sizeable discount on materials sent to the Library automatically under the agreement. Currently, approximately 30% of purchases through YBP are made "on approval" and sent automatically, and this percentage should gradually increase to about double that number. Books ordered title-by-title through YBP's online database are also discounted, though at a slightly lower level. The Library has realized considerable savings on materials during the first six months of the program, having received 3,077 items on approval and 7,500 ordered title-by-title. The Library has also benefitted significantly from savings in staff time. The arrangement eliminates a number of procedural steps in ordering materials, and frees bibliographers from making a large number of routine purchase requests, allowing them more time to make more difficult selection decisions among publications that are more on the margins.

Eight separate written profiles were created by Library bibliographers with Yankee Book Peddler staff in order to capture the breadth of the collection's subject areas. One profile each was developed for the sciences, law, and area studies, two for the humanities, two for the social sciences, and another that includes general reference, the College, and the School of Social Service Administration. Each profile contains a number of specific elements that would signal a publication worthy of selection by YBP for the Library: subject elements include the classification (including the call number), Library of Congress subject headings, the scope and intended audience, and a long list of interdiciplinary aspects; non-subject elements include the publisher, the author and his or her institutional affiliation, publication history, edition, series type, and so forth.

The profiles will be fine-tuned periodically in order to ensure their effectiveness and to reflect shifts in collection development policy. Yankee Book Peddler will soon add UK imprints to its list of titles available to ship automatically, and the Library is currently exploring similar arrangements with foreign book vendors in Italy, Germany, and The Netherlands.

For more information, contact Barbara Van Deventer, Assistant Director for Collection Development and Public Services in the Humanities and Social Sciences, at 702-0691 or dev7@midway.uchicago.edu">dev7@midway.uchicago.edu.