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  • encumbrances
  • blanket orders
  • individual purchase orders
  • serials
  • foreign exchange rates

Acquisitions Processes

  • Selection
  • Verification
  • Ordering and record creation (purchase order)
  • Encumbering
  • Receipt and invoice checking (packing slip)
  • Payment approval and foreign exchange rate
  • Other integrated processing

Vendor Relations

  • Close relationships develop with librarians and vendors
  • Vendors are in business to make a profit so cultivating client is normal business practice
  • Librarians want good deals and good materials so they want to be on good side of vendor
  • At times ethical lines can be crossed

Purchasing single items

  • UCC applicable to purchases
  • Highly labor intensive
  • Processing prone to error
  • Often done through jobber, with whom the library has a multi-year contract
  • Vendor’s automated ordering system is used
  • Discounts available
  • Puts burden on library to be efficient in processing

Purchasing serials, including electronic journals and databases

  • Often dealing with a monopoly, such as Elsevier or Wiley
  • Demand curve is inelastic
  • Often bought in packages with some journals not needed by library, just like a cable company
  • Negotiating possible, but often frustrating and unsuccessful unless dealing from a position of strength
  • Purchase is for a year or longer (standing order) so sometimes forecasting of future prices is difficult
  • Periodical appearance in LJ of journal price analysis
  • Increasing literature devoted to study of publisher pricing models

Foreign Purchases and Exchange Rates

  • Vendor approval also needed
  • Dealing with different currencies, so often use jobber for different parts of the world
  • Able to negotiate prices to some degree
  • Foreign exchange rates can make materials less than, more than, or equal to similar domestic items

Foreign Exchange Programs

  • Began in earnest in post WWII era with Farmington Plan and PL480 plan (repayment of war debt)
  • On the decrease compared to 20-30 years ago. Used in countries whose currencies were not tied to normal foreign exchange rates (e.g. Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, PRC)
  • Often done on a library to library exchange. The American library would purchase western journals or monographs for their foreign partner and foreign partner would supply serials or monographs in exchange
  • Basis of exchange was either
    • page for page exchange
    • dollar for ruble/yen/zloty, etc. using an imputed exchange rate
  • Exchange balances would be compared annually on both sides and imbalances “corrected”

Blanket Orders

  • Used both domestically and with foreign purchases
  • Domestically of two types
    • university press blanket order
    • publisher based blanket order
  • Profile of subject matter from specific publishers created and the vendor delivers using the profile and dollar limits created by library
  • Works to library’s advantage because it cuts down on labor intensive selecting and ordering
  • Dangerous to rely too heavily on it unless closely monitored (Les Livres Etrangers example)
  • Need to check for duplicates from other sources


  • Categories
    • dump books off at the library gifts
    • gift of extensive scholarly collection
    • offer of collection for sale at “discounted” price
  • Each has its own issues but each should have
    • simple receipt to donor with follow up letter of gratitude
    • for substantial gifts then deed of gift spelling out terms of gift
  • The library (recipient) of the gift cannot give an estimated value of the gift according to IRS regulations. This appraisal must be done by an outside appraiser in accordance with IRS regulations
  • Book plates are often entered in donated collections or special gifts in order to avoid weeding donated items (if such an action is prohibited by the deed of gift)
  • As an example of a retention policy of gifts see
  • Personnel costs exist with gift processing
    • searching to see if item is unique
    • if yes, then retain if in collection scope
    • if no, then decision to retain or to give away/sell

Weeding of Collections

  • When collections are weeded a decision has to be made regarding the disposition of the weeded items.
    • give away
    • sell
  • State and/or municipal purchasing regulations may prohibit sale of these items, so need to consult business manager or other official in the know about such regulations

Collaborative/Cooperative Collection Building

  • Another way to conserve collections expenditures has been with collaborative purchasing arrangements.
  • A group of libraries will form an organization for various purposes of mutual benefit.
  • One such purpose is to purchase electronic resources
  • Idea is that with a group of libraries, the purchaser retains more bargaining leverage
  • Sometimes this works well, but other issues arise such as duplication with individual library’s purchasing decisions
  • Has potential to reduce inefficiencies such as UIUC, UIC, UIS collaborative purchasing which save a total of $1,000,000
  • Vendors resist this because it cuts down on profit margin.
  • Contracts for these arrangements are not made public

CARLI (Consortium of Academic Libraries in Illinois

Questions for you to Ponder

  • Buy from Amazon?
  • Publishers sell to …who?
  • State legislation and libraries who cares?
  • If the funds are there we can buy it right?
  • The budget process is inherently logical and nimble with discretionary funding available…..?
  • Who buys all the stuff?

Budget Basics

  • History of any one budget
  • Fiscal Year
  • Annual cycle: set up, take down
  • How it grows (or shrinks)
    • Inflation
    • Adds for new programs
    • Transfers
    • Currency issues
    • Hard years
  • Reality of little discretionary $$

Library issues

  • One time purchases
  • Recurring, recurring, recurring: Serials, I and As, databases etc
  • Obligating purchases
  • Multi year payment
  • Unpredictables every year
  • Packages or Big deals
  • Larger organization rules
  • Assessment

Maximize resources = money AND people and users time

  • Negotiate
  • RFP to contract
  • Consortial purchases
  • Shop around
  • Add ons to materials (records, service)
  • Performance: customer service, content itself, customization

Negotiation 101

  • Know thy seller
  • Know thy product
  • And the payment process
  • And the paperwork process
  • And your colleagues
  • And your library partners
  • Experience shall be your friend


  • Auditor 101: order separate payment
  • Auto Controls: keeper of the funds
  • Liaisons
  • Reconciliation
  • Archives of invoices
  • Automation

Procurement rules

  • Transparency
  • Ethics
  • Bidding
  • Sole source
  • Signatures
  • =complexities and bureaucracy to protect public interest but remember what libraries buy! Not widgets


  • Acquisition modules
  • ERMS
  • Vendors processes
  • Industry knowledge (publisher, products, colleagues, sales, end of year bonuses)
  • Asking questions
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