Please excuse cross postings:
Forwarded from Jim Duncan, Executive Director at CLiC
At CLiC, we appreciate and understand that cost increases are never welcomed with joy or excitement, and in fact can cause real financial pain for a library.
There's a reason CLiC has not weighed in on the public discussions about Courier and cost increases: every library's situation is different. So, we've been talking with libraries directly about their unique situations, and we have more conversations ahead!
However, we've identified two particular themes in the concerns expressed to us so far by library leaders we've been engaged with:
1) why did CLiC increase fees?
2) why didn't we hear about this sooner?
To address these two points, I'm sharing some background.
Why we needed to increase fees:
CLiC pays American Courier to handle sorting and transportation of materials to more than 320 libraries across the state. CLiC recently finalized a NEW three-year contract with American Courier, which included reasonable cost increases. Combined with everything else that goes into operating the statewide courier (including relationships with other vendors and organizations) -- the overall cost for CLiC to manage this statewide service is more than $1M.
For many years, the service has received subsidy by way of a state appropriation that comes to CLiC. We utilize state funds to help keep the costs affordable to all sizes of libraries. However, CLiC has not seen an increase to that state appropriation in more than a DECADE.
So, costs keep going up...
Volume keeps going up (we transported more than 2.7 million items last year - a new record)...
And libraries still aren't paying the true full costs to operate the service.
In order to pay the bills, CLiC has no choice but to increase fees. Fortunately, with the number of libraries participating, the cost burden is shared.
Why didn't we hear about this sooner?
Contract negotiations were thorny, lasting MANY months...some of the trickiest conversations I've handled in my career. Those were wrapped up in mid July. Once CLiC locked in these vendor costs, we then had to apply the massive amount of ILL data available to us (Prospector, Marmot, SWIFT and AspenCat) and begin running the calculations (and scenarios) that would provide sufficient income while keeping things affordable. All the while, the library landscape/terrain shifts, with some libraries reducing their use of the statewide Courier service, while others look to increase resource sharing...
It's a LOT of moving parts to balance. The silver lining here: we know what we're dealing with (American Courier costs) for three years. We'll be able to communicate with libraries sooner about price increases than what happened this year.
We've been told by YOU that the Courier is a crucial central service. So the stakes are high--CLiC must plan thoughtfully for operational continuity and financial sustainability. It takes time for us to bring it all together.
CLiC rolled out the new pricing as soon as we could. Really, would it be in anyone's interest to keep price increases "secret" for an extended period of time? We released the new pricing ASAP, and we anticipated that some of the 320 libraries served by the Courier would experience heartburn. So, we took a "risk" that our track record for serving Colorado libraries is solid, and that libraries would trust CLiC enough to simply talk with us about their situations. And that's what has happened.
Those individualized conversations have been productive and tailored to the needs of each library. During the past several days, we've helped individual libraries
- advocate with their stakeholders for why ILL and resouce sharing is important (and fiscally responsible)
- determine that the Courier is not a value for their SPECIFIC situation (eg. one school library saw fewer than 30 ILLs during the past year. It just doesn't make sense financially for that school to continue, and CLiC helped the school understand that.)
- engage in productive, professional conversations within the library to help many staff members understand their library's OPTIONS for material handling/resouce sharing, and to better understand why the Courier service is still an incredible value to many communities.
THE KEY message I hope you get from this message:
CLiC is not a vendor. We're a part of the library community, with staff that ultimately (through YOU) serve the citizens and students of Colorado as passionately as you do.
We're easy to reach. We're professional AND friendly! We simply want to engage with each library we serve and provide support (and in some cases guidance) for YOU to determine if your library's voluntary participation in this service remains of value to your community.
We welcome conversation with any library. Contact us! Visit http://www.clicweb.org/about-clic/contact/ to see who we are, reach out, and then let us contact YOU!
Kind regards to all,
Jim Duncan | Executive Director
CLiC (Colorado Library Consortium)
7400 East Arapahoe Road, Suite 75 | Centennial, CO 80112
Office: 303.422.1150 | Direct: 720.739.3679
www.clicweb.org<http://www.clicweb.org/> | Check us out on Facebook<https://www.facebook.com/clicweb/> and Twitter<https://twitter.com/clic_web>
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