TexShare Courier Service Working Group Minutes
June 12, 1996
Members present: Gary Ives, Chair (UT Medical Branch, Galveston); Amy Chang (Texas Tech University); Kathryn Connell (UT Southwestern Medical Center); Mark Dolive (University of North Texas); Scott Downing (East Texas State University); Peter McGuinness (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi); Bonnie McNeely (UT-Pan American); Karen Nichols (Lamar University); Tony Rodarte (UT El Paso); Carolyn Thorne (Community College Liaison, Dallas County Community College); Linda Bixler (Alliance for Higher Education, Dallas); Jo Anne Hawkins (TexShare Project Manager, UT Austin).
Absent: Eleanor Wilson (Sul Ross State University).
The TexShare Courier Document Delivery Working Group gathered in Dallas at the Clarion Hotel at 9:30 AM on Tuesday, June 11, 1996, for its second meeting. Linda Bixler of the Alliance for Higher Education in Dallas joined the group as an advisor on AHE's long-term experience with library courier services.
Jo Anne Hawkins commented on the future of TexShare management and said that the group's report and recommendation would need to be completed by July 29 so it could be presented at this year's last meeting of the TexShare Advisory Board on August 1. She reported briefly on the Texas Legislature's House Committee on State, Federal and International Relations' hearing May 8 in Austin at which presentations were made about library resource sharing in Texas, including an excellent, well-received presentation about TexShare by Dana Rooks.
Chair Gary Ives distributed the agenda for the two-day meeting, a map of the state marked with universities' locations, a summary of responses from TexShare library directors to Gary's survey inquiring about their interest in a courier service, and an OCLC statistical summary of TexShare libraries' interlibrary loan activity.
Gary noted that the group would hear presentations from three courier vendors during the day (Central Delivery Services, Pony Express, and 3D Distribution Systems) with a break for lunch, and that the meeting room was reserved until 9 PM if discussion was necessary after dinner. The group's discussions would continue on Wednesday morning and would end shortly after lunch.
Gary said that it will be difficult to predict the volume of TexShare business for a courier vendor, and he thought a flat rate contract might be the best option. Costs for courier services include basically drivers' time and the costs of maintaining routes, and one approach would be for institutions to divide the costs based on a predicted level of use.
Gary had included some basic information about our project in his invitation to the courier vendors invited to the meeting, all of whom provide regional courier service to Texas libraries (Central Delivery Service, HARLIC; Pony Express, UT El Paso and New Mexico libraries; 3D Distribution Systems, AHE). He noted that because Amigos had established a courier service with Federal Express for its member libraries in April, we did not ask FedEx to do a presentation because in effect the company would be competing against itself.
Representatives from Central Delivery Service of Houston, Ricardo Antona, Regional Manager, and Steve Meave, CDS Air Manager, arrived to make their presentation. CDS serves as the courier for HARLIC, which includes the Houston area, Galveston, Prairie View, and College Station.
The group responded to CDS' questions for information about the nature of the materials being sent on interlibrary loan and how these materials are sent. The group noted that timing is the most critical issue and that ILL traffic has cyclical highs and lows, with the busiest times of the year March-April and October-November for general purpose campuses.
Mr. Antona said that CDS would use Federal Express to provide courier service to TexShare libraries. It would provide monthly reports by institution, track items sent, and provide FedEx packaging and a powership workstation which would require a dedicated phone line and a certain volume of business per day per site. CDS could enter into an agreement with each institution or with the consortium and could arrange for daily or on-call pickup at each site. Packages would be insured for $100 each with additional insurance available for 50 cents per $100. CDS would file with FedEx for losses. An exclusive agreement would not be required.
CDS would look at a minimum volume rate if we would enter into a contract. TexShare would have to make a minumum commitment as a consortium, rather than as individual libraries. Concluding his presentation, Mr. Antona said he would provide additional information and rates to us within the next week.
James Hoofnagle, President of 3D Package Express, and Shawn Fagan, North Texas Sales Manager of 3D Distribution Systems, Inc., arrived to make their presentation. 3D Distribution Systems, the parent company, is 15 years old and carries both heavy and small freight as a contract carrier. 3DDS has served as AHE courier for seven years and employs 250 company and contract drivers around the state with hubs in major cities for scheduled routes. 3DDS maintains both staffed and pickup/drop sites, uses air and ground shuttles between hubs, provides bank courier services around the state, and travels to most cities daily, although getting to Alpine would be a challenge. Specific day(s) per week pickups could be scheduled for the few cities not on a hub.
Central billing to a consortium would be best and less costly than billing by the piece or to individual institutions. Concerning insurance and losses, Mr. Hoofnagle responded that materials are not insured nor is loss reimbursed within 3DDS' regular service, but items can be individually insured for a minimum of $7. Wrapping materials are not provided by 3DDS but libraries could use anything USPS-approved. Working Group members noted that the volume of materials 3DDS might anticipate would be comparable to its AHE experience, and that a consistent time of daily pickup was critically important to ILL operations. Mr. Hoofnagle said that he would fax a preliminary proposal with cost estimates to us by June 18 for our consideration and concluded his presentation and he and Mr. Fagan left the meeting.
The group then considered a plan of work to accomplish its task by the end of July, after agreeing that a courier system of some sort appears to be a viable option for TexShare libraries. The group will recommend to the TexShare Management Group that we:
Inform library directors of our progress on the project
Write specifications for a courier service contract
Send a request for proposals to potential couriers
Receive and review proposals and bids from couriers
Recommend a courier with which to contract for service
Request TexShare seed money to subsidize the service; libraries would pay a reduced rate based on the established tier system of TexShare libraries
Assist in implementation of and communication for a courier service
Monitor the courier service monthly and evaluate it annually
Consider naming the service TExpress
Points to consider in specifying a viable courier service include:
Service to all participating libraries
Routine or on call pickup for all sites
Throughput time standard 48-hour or 24-hour expedited service from pickup to delivery
Specific time of pickup
Provision for extreme weather, accidents, unforeseen circumstances
Packaging and labels
Provision for loss and damage
Billing options: consortium or individual libraries
Nonexclusivity option which allows libraries and/or institutions to enter into other courier contracts
Approximately 240 days of service annually, with provision for holidays
The Pony Express representative originally scheduled for a presentation was unable to attend the meeting, so a substitute for him was to meet with the group on Wednesday morning. The group adjourned for the afternoon and agreed to reconvene Wednesday at 8:30 AM.
Robert Hebert, District Sales Manager of Pony Express Courier Corporation, met with the group on Wednesday morning. He said that the company is a unit of Borg-Warner Security Corporation and provides security and courier services for banks, the Olympics, and other agencies. It is the nation's largest courier and is accustomed to delivering time-sensitive documents and materials. With branches in 25 locations throughout Texas and hubs in Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas, it can move materials in one to two days, including to Laredo, Alpine, Edinburg. It uses primarily ground transportation but has access to air if necessary.
Rates can be based on weight and distance or per delivery location, with service 8-5, Monday-Friday. Materials are insured for $100 as standard service. The company can cover much of Texas quickly and can transport both loans and copies. Billing can be done centrally, to a consortial agent, if desired. Packaging is not provided, but Pony Express could experiment with preprinted labels. Mr. Hebert suggested we consider recyclable or fabric packaging which may save on packing costs. A one-year contract with a possible extension to a second year would be desirable, with a flat rate the best price option for TexShare. The Pony Express system includes the capability to track items; every package is barcoded and waybills are provided. Pony Express does not require exclusive agreements for service contracts. Scott Moore of San Antonio would be the contact person for TexShare.
Tony Rodarte commented that Pony Express costs UT El Paso $121 a month for daily courier service.
Mr. Hebert concluded his presentation and said that he would fax a proposal to us within a week.
In reviewing the group's time line, Jo Anne said she would try to get the minutes to the group by the end of the week, and Gary said he would begin to draft the group's report and recommendations for the Management Group. Jo Anne said that she would have the couriers' proposals faxed to Working Group members, and Bonnie said that she would fax a copy of the TexShare tier arrangement to members as well.
Gary said that he would follow up with library directors from whom he had received no response to his survey about their interest in a courier service.
The group agreed that the first contract for a courier service might not begin until late fall 1996 or January 1997, but that a year's contract was certainly desirable.
After receiving guidance and direction from the TexShare Management Group and Advisory Board, the Working Group will meet again in early fall to draft specifications for a courier contract.