TexShare Courier Service Working Group Minutes
October 8, 1998
Conference Call

The TexShare Courier Service Working Group met via conference call arranged by TSLAC staff at 2 PM on October 8, 1998. All members participated, including Chair Gary Ives, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; Kathryn Connell, UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas; Kay Garsnett, Our Lady of the Lake University; Peggy Oliphint, Baylor University; Rachel Robbins, UT Arlington; Mike Robinson, Sul Ross State University; Frances Roppolo, University of Houston Clear Lake; and Carolyn Thorne, Dallas County Community College District; TSLAC Liaison Rebecca Linton; Amigos Executive Director Bonnie Juergens; TexShare Project Support Specialist Susie Thompson; and TexShare Coordinating Council Liaison Jo Anne Hawkins.

For its agenda, the group followed a September 26, 1998, email message from Bonnie Juergens, "Notes about TExpress Program for Courier Service Working Group;" an email message of September 24 from Bonnie and Rebecca concerning the participation of TexNet Centers in TExpress; and a third message of October 7 from Bonnie with three additional agenda items.

Bonnie began the meeting by discussing the expected increase in rates from CEDS, the TEXpress courier, and noted that even with an increase, we will still have a very good deal. There are two issues to consider: quality of service and equity. CEDS prefers five-day a week, rather than two-day a week service, because the latter is nonroutine and more difficult to maintain. From the overall TexShare view, five-day delivery is preferable because it supports the program's resource sharing objective more effectively. The libraries which have opted for two-day service tend to be smaller; for them the choice is driven more by finances than by service.

Bonnie will summarize the CEDS proposal, which will require approximately $200,000 for 12 months of service to 93 sites, in an email to the group for our consideration. It is possible that she will be able to negotiate a two-year contract with CEDS. After our approval, she will take it to the TexShare Coordinating Council and then to the Advisory Council.

The group discussed the TExpress situation at Sul Ross at Alpine. CEDS has been unable to provide better than a 7 to 9 day delivery for Sul Ross, and Mike Robinson noted that the Postal Service actually works best for them. One suggestion was that perhaps Sul Ross could partner with UTEP to improve service. It may be necessary for Sul Ross to end its participation in TExpress whenever feasible. Bonnie and Mike will confer again with Sul Ross Director of Learning Resources Gilda Baeza Ortego about this issue.

Susie Thompson commented about materials reported missing on TExpress. On many occasions a loss occurs because items are missent via AHE instead of TExpress, and often items are lost within a sending or receiving library. Susie said that she has received 15-20 complaints of missing materials in the past four months, and of those 10-15 items have not been found, although she expects most to be located eventually. Statistics on the volume of materials sent via TExpress will help to put the issue of lost materials in perspective.

On the matter of statistics, Gary reported dismal compliance from TExpress participants in reporting program statistics. He recommended that in the new year's TExpress agreement, there be a mandate for participants to report statistics and that new participants should be required to sign a statement that they will do so. Jo Anne noted that one problem is that we do not yet have a true mailing list of TExpress liaisons or contacts to which requests for statistics can be sent easily and efficiently. These statistics will be all-important in efforts to fund TExpress through TSLAC's budget; we will need to demonstrate that the program is effective and is saving our libraries money. Susie agreed to put together a list of the TExpress contacts provided by libraries when they signed up for the program. Bonnie will ask Michael Piper to put together a mailing list for TExpress contacts, and Susie will get the list to us after she verifies and updates it. (NOTE: Susie and Rue Ramirez of UT Austin General Libraries Electronic Information Programs Office are working to establish a mailing list of program contacts and will have it available this week.)

Rebecca commented on a problem concerning TExpress and TexNet Centers, and the fact that some of the Centers, such as Dallas Public and Houston Public, are OCLC referral libraries for smaller libraries in their service region as well as for their branches. Problems in tracking items occur because the requesting library is not the SHIP TO library. Rebecca proposed a change in TExpress label design which might remedy the problem. Alternatively, Rachel suggested that TexNet libraries include in the U.S. mail address both the TExpress number and the U.S. Postal address. Rebecca said she would document this solution to the problem and post it on the TexNet mailing list. She also noted that libraries need to be reminded to keep their NAD files up to date.

Concerning supplies of TExpress labels and envelopes, Bonnie reported that while the intention was that supplies for the original participants were to be paid for by Amigos, initially they were provided free for all participants because costs were minimal and it was not productive to bill. However, the original supplies are now gone, and Amigos will have to charge libraries a $50 minimum charge for 1,000 labels. Even so, all libraries have label masters and could produce their own. Bonnie noted that few envelopes are requested by participants. She said that Amigos will inform participants about changes in provision of these supply items and that libraries must follow CEDS' stated specifications in producing their own labels. (NOTE: It was decided subsequently that charges for labels will be incorporated into the TExpress subscription fee.)

Susie reported that in September CEDS started a pilot with a major client to track items in the system, although such tracking would be more expensive and more complex in libraries' operations. CEDS is using bar codes on labels and scanners in hub cities in the pilot. Susie will let the group know about the outcome of the pilot.

Bonnie noted again that she will send the WG a summary of pricing information from CEDS and will look for our comments and approval. Because our present CEDS contract extends through the end of 1998, we must have a new agreement in place before calendar year 1999.

The group may meet again in a conference call before the end of this year. The terms of three members of the WG, Gary, Kathryn, and Carolyn, will end this December. Although Gary is expecting to have back surgery after the first of the year, he said he should be able to attend the first meeting of the newly constituted WG in the new year to assist in the transition.

-- Jo Anne Hawkins

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