UC Binding Process Improvement Task Force Final Report

I. Introduction

The UC Binding Process Improvement Task Force's charge was to investigate bindery services and practices to identify ways to economize on binding costs, with a goal to reduce costs to less than comparable commercial alternatives; to identify economies in binding preparation to reduce library staff costs; to identify bindery services that cannot be offered economically by UC Binderies, and therefore should be outsourced both to reduce costs to the libraries and to enable the binderies to jettison high overhead services; to develop descriptions of standard products and unit prices; to develop standardized management reports to be provided to the campuses by the binderies; and to evaluate potential of the binderies to succeed preservation photocopying with scanning services for any materials that need conversion for access and preservation purposes.

The Process Improvement Task Force consisted of six members chosen to represent the primary stakeholders in the UC system: HOPS, CDC, HOTS, UCPP, and the University Binderies. In addition, many knowledgeable staff from every campus throughout the university were consulted. Thus, a wide variety of viewpoints were incorporated when developing the recommendations.

The Task Force took its charge in the broadest sense, to improve processes at both libraries and binderies to maximize advantages of operating a University-owned binding service, and therefore proposes additional recommendations beyond those that specifically address the issues in the charge. Finally, all recommendations conform to the UC Binding Policy approved by the UC Collection Development Committee in May 1996.

Several very difficult issues were addressed, including the price of binding and the length of time for turnaround of binding orders, and a number of complex workflows analyzed. These investigations led to recommendations for some changes in the way we do things in many areas of binding preparation and processing. The overarching goal of the task force was to identify process improvements that would serve to control the cost of binding systemwide, while preserving the Binderies' traditions of service and quality, in conformance with the principles embodied in the UC Binding Policy.

Members of the Task Force gathered documentary and anecdotal information, considered earlier reviews of the binderies, surveyed stakeholders at each campus, consulted with Preservation Officers and non-UC libraries, and incorporated relevant recommendations from the Business Review of UC Library Binderies report, February 1995. We also used a great deal of statistical information prepared from bindery records.

The Task Force recognized that process improvements will be most successful when they result from collaboration between libraries and binderies. Thus, many recommendations include implementation strategies with actions for both libraries and binderies. Some recommendations are already partially in place, others can be implemented immediately or with minimal training, while still others must be phased in. For instance, purchase of equipment or development of new products may be needed before implementation is possible.

II. Executive Summary of Recommendations

An executive summary is provided as an entry point into the full text. Each recommendation is numbered to correspond to an aspect of the Task Force's charge. Due to the complexity of binding processing, the Task Force urges readers to review the full text and any tables, charts, or appendices for recommendations of particular interest. Page numbers refer the reader to an explanation of the reasons for the recommendation, and details of implementation.

A. Identify ways to economize on binding costs

  1. Libraries will choose the level of preparation needed for each binding order according to profiles provided by the Binderies. See page 5.
  2. Binderies will return binding orders complete. In those exceptional cases where books are shipped separately from their original orders, binderies will account for and document individual volumes. See page 5.
  3. Libraries should batch together books from multiple branches by consolidating binding pickup points for each campus, and should sort them by binding style into separate job lots before sending them to the bindery. See page 5.
  4. To optimize binding funds libraries may select less durable binding styles like LC and Mylar, when low use or short retention of volumes is anticipated. See page 6.
  5. Libraries should provide, as soon as information is available, projections of the amount and type of binding that will be required that year, to help bindery management most efficiently staff the binderies. See page 6.

B. Identify economies in binding preparation

  1. All libraries and both binderies should convert to using booktrucks for deliveries, to achieve greater efficiency in handling and better control of costs in the long term. See page 7.
  2. Libraries and binderies need to develop and take advantage of electronic data transfer capabilities whenever possible to reduce redundant keying, keystroke errors, and to increase efficiency. See page 7.
  3. Binderies will improve their rate of response to library inquiries (acknowledgement of the query in 24 hours or less) to reduce library staff costs to contact bindery management. See page 8.

C. Identify bindery services that cannot be offered economically by UC Binderies

  1. Currently some campuses enjoy faster turnaround service than others. The Task Force recommends offering the same turnaround options to all campuses, to enable the binderies to deliver complete job lots in the scheduled time, without resorting to either overtime or temporary labor. No change to the frequency or absolute size of shipments is recommended for any campus and there are no limits on the number of volumes that can be sent four week return. However, no more than half of any shipment will be completed in two weeks or less. See pages 8-10.
  2. To help libraries provide needed service to patrons, any volume on a four-week turnaround schedule may be recalled on a rush basis from the bindery at no extra charge. "Call Rush" volumes will be completed and returned to the library on the next bindery shipment. See pages 10-11.
  3. In those few cases where transportation of bindery orders is done with bindery-owned vehicles, clients will be charged the full cost of the service. See page 11.

D. Develop descriptions of standard products and unit prices

  1. Develop a single standard nomenclature for bindery products, to be used both in the north and the south, and in all documentation concerning binding. See page 11.
  2. Adopt the UC Bindery price list that has been prepared, and is attached as Appendix 3. See also page 11.

E. Standardized management reports to be provided to the libraries by the binderies

  1. Use the UC printing requisition (or create a standardized form with the needed information for campuses that cannot) to accompany each bindery order. See page 12 and Appendix 1.
  2. Libraries will identify and label each bindery job lot with a unique control number. See page 12 and Appendix 2.
  3. Binderies will notify libraries of the estimated cost of each job lot the week it is received, including any discrepancies in the number of items in the job lot, and any anticipated difficulties with completing the job as specified in the anticipated turnaround time. See page 12 and Appendix 1.
  4. Binderies will use a standardized packing memo or delivery sheet to accompany bindery orders being returned to the libraries, noting specific volumes that are being returned separately from their original job lots. See page 12 and Appendix 2.
  5. Libraries should keep internal balance sheets of binding liens and bills to best monitor their binding budgets, rather than relying on the general ledger, which is not available in a timely fashion. See page 12 and Appendix 1.
  6. Bindery accounting clerks will send a copy of the monthly statement or recharge request to individuals identified by each library, typically the binding preparation supervisor or unit head. See page 12 and Appendix 1.

F. Evaluate potential of the binderies to succeed preservation photocopying with scanning services for any materials that need conversion for access and preservation purposes

  1. Defer evaluation of digital scanning opportunities, because a concurrent UC group is working in coordination with the Bindery and UC Printing on research and development of scanning capability. See page 12.

G. Communication

  1. Schedule annual visits of bindery management to each client library for problem solving, introduction of new products and services, strategic budget planning and cross training. Meetings should include senior library administration, binding preparation staff, and collection managers. See page 13.
  2. Binderies will offer training for libraries' binding preparation staff, and visits of bindery floor supervisors to the libraries, to ease ongoing quality control and process improvements. See page 13.
  3. UC Preservation Program will establish a UC Binding listserv that will be linked to the World Wide Web and the UC Binding Manual, to ease exchange information among stakeholders in binderies and libraries. See page 13.
  4. UC Preservation Program will develop a UC Binding Manual, as described in the UC Binding Policy, May 1996. See page 13 and draft Table of Contents, Appendix 4.

III. Recommendations

A. Identify ways to economize on binding costs

1. Three levels of preparation are currently offered by the binderies. Non-collate, for volumes where little hand preparation is required, offers the greatest economy in binding costs. Limited preparation, where more work is required to enable binding, and full preparation, when the materials cannot be bound without extensive hand work, are more costly. A way libraries can reduce their costs for binding is to reduce the amount of preparation of periodicals done by bindery staff. Several UC libraries have adopted the non-collate option for periodicals to a very great degree, and enjoy lower prices for binding of these serials than campuses outsourcing all periodical preparation to the binderies. Limited preparation corresponds to the library binding industry's "standard preparation level" as described in the Library Binding Institute (LBI) Standard for Library Binding, 8th edition. Full preparation is comparable to "custom preparation" in the LBI standard.

A1. Libraries choose the level of preparation wanted for each binding order according to profiles provided by the Binderies. (See Appendix 3: UC Binderies Price List) The Binderies may be unable to implement the choice in certain cases and will recommend a different level if needed to permit binding of problematic material, or they may suggest a different level of preparation to achieve greater economy in binding.

  • Implementation: all preparation options are currently available at both Binderies.
  • Party responsible for further implementation - Libraries may choose to bind more materials at lower levels of preparation; binderies will help in staff training.

A2. Binderies will return binding orders complete. In those exceptional cases where books are shipped separately from their original orders binderies will account for and document individual volumes. Reliable return of complete orders will save library staff costs to track stray volumes, and enable provision of improved library service to patrons.

  • Implementation : immediate
  • Party responsible for implementation - Binderies

A3. To achieve the greatest economy of scale in binding, books should be batched together from multiple branches by consolidating binding pickup points for each campus, and should be sorted by binding style into separate job lots before being sent to the bindery. Mixed orders of different binding styles cost more to bind, although decentralized processing may allow individual units to track their own binding costs separately from others'. While decentralizing binding preparation may reduce delays in return of completed binding by eliminating some internal library handling, the binding costs of campuses that batch together books from all branches are consistently on the lower end of the range because of greater economies of scale obtained. The price list developed by the Task Force (See Appendix 3) is based on job lots of 50 similar volumes; smaller job lots may cost more. Libraries on each campus need to analyze the costs and benefits of greater centralization and savings accrued to the binding budget from economies of scale.

  • Implementation: within one year
  • Party responsible for implementation - libraries

A4. Selection of less durable binding styles like LC and Mylar, when low use or short retention of volumes are anticipated, will maximize binding funds. Some libraries have experimented with deferring binding of low use monographs until circulation shows the need for binding. The experience of these campuses is that sturdy paperbacks can undergo quite a few circulations before damage occurs, and that the window of opportunity for binding is still open after several circulations. Use of less expensive binding styles may compromise long-term durability of volumes, but may be an appropriate choice for items not intended for permanent retention.

  • Implementation: as needed. Less costly binding styles are currently available at both binderies.
  • Party responsible for implementation - libraries

A5. Binderies can most effectively control their labor costs by receiving, at the beginning of the fiscal year, or as soon as information is available, projections from each library of the amount and type of binding that will be required that year, either increased or decreased over the previous year. This information enables bindery management to staff the binderies at the lowest cost, reducing overtime and eliminating the need for intermittent hiring and layoffs. The libraries should inform bindery management of anticipated long and short term changes in the volume of binding. Bindery management will staff the binderies anticipating a steady flow of work, based on this information provided by libraries, with the goal to eliminate overtime hours and temporary employees.

  • Implementation: as soon as libraries' budget plans are known.
  • Party responsible for further implementation - libraries and binderies

B. Identify economies in binding preparation

B1. An up-front investment in heavy duty booktrucks for shipping books to the binderies will lead to significant long-term savings for the libraries. Booktrucks have a demonstrated working life of twenty-five years or more, while the cost of booktrucks can be amortized over several years. This compares favorably with the cost/life span of lugs. Campuses that have converted to booktrucks have experienced savings in staff time packing and unpacking books both at the libraries and the binderies; improved worker health and safety due to the virtual elimination of back injuries incurred in lifting containers full of books; elimination of the cost of packing materials; and have realized the preservation advantages of shelving books upright rather than stacking them in lugs, whose dimensions do not accommodate large volumes. Since a single booktruck can hold as many volumes as four-to-six lugs, they require less floor space to store.

Moreover, all campuses have the experience of using booktrucks to transport deposits to the regional library facilities so the logistics have been resolved in terms of loading docks, etc. The Culver City bindery has determined that it is readily able to convert to booktrucks immediately and has enough storage room for them. The Oakland bindery and the four Northern campuses have converted to booktrucks completely.

The use of booktrucks is recommended to achieve greater efficiency in handling and better control of costs in the long term. Because it is less labor intensive to handle shipments on book trucks, bindery prices will be based on an assumption that all bindery orders will be sent on booktrucks.

  • Implementation: Five campuses not currently using booktrucks will need to phase in the conversion. Campuses with raised loading docks should rent or retrofit trucks with hydraulic lifts or ramps to load and unload booktrucks. Methods for securing books onto booktrucks and for securing booktrucks to delivery trucks are available widely throughout the system. It would be least costly to order the booktrucks as a large multicampus group purchase. Specifications for adequately sturdy trucks can be obtained from other campuses or the regional storage facilities. Each campus's bindery preparation unit/s should collaborate with their bindery manager to effect the conversion.
  • A large joint purchase of booktrucks and straps will permit the University to negotiate the best price.

B2. To save labor costs on binding preparation, both libraries and binderies need to develop and take advantage of electronic data transfer capabilities whenever possible to reduce redundant keying, keystroke errors, and to increase efficiency. Applications for electronic data transfer include transfer of spine marking information, online billing, and online communication of other management data, with the primary savings anticipated from electronic transfer of spine marking information that can be downloaded to the bindery from library data systems. It has been estimated that each bindery could reduce staff by as much as 1 FTE if all periodical spine data could be transferred electronically. Two software packages for this purpose are commercially available, but none currently is compatible with the Innovation Interfaces periodicals check-in system used by seven of the nine UC campuses, and it would involve significant redundant keying to use the LARS package "off-the-shelf'. To implement this recommendation a software interface is being researched that, if developed, should enable downloading data from the Innovative database to the Bindery spine stamping equipment. For more suggestions for electronic data transfer see also Section E and Appendices 1 & 2.

  • Implementation: The Santa Barbara campus is expected to be the first UC campus to implement a system of electronic transfer of spine information, early in 1997, when it begins using the LARS Library module of the Bindery's LARS System 3 spine marking equipment. Campuses using the Innovative Interfaces Inc. ("III") periodical check-in and binding modules are making progress in getting III and Flesher Inc. (manufacturer of the LARS systems) to cooperate in downloading information from III to LARS Library, so that redundant keying can be eliminated. No timetable for such an interface is yet available.

B3. An improved rate of response to library inquiries (acknowledgement of the query in 24 hours or less) by the binderies will reduce staff costs to contact bindery management. The perception of persistent slow responsive time has hampered communication between libraries and binderies. Libraries most prefer email communication, or phone and fax where they are convenient. Postal mail is the least preferred method.

  • Implementation: complete
  • Party responsible for implementation: binderies

C. Identify bindery services that cannot be offered economically by UC Binderies

No bindery products currently offered were found uneconomical, since all needed equipment has been paid for, and no special staffing or staff training is needed. Furthermore, services beyond the standard products represent only a very small portion of the binderies' work, and are associated with least overhead.

C1. The primary high overhead service that cannot continue to be offered without jeopardizing the fiscal health of the binderies is a two-week turnaround for some campuses. Currently two campuses receive a two-week turnaround time for 100% of their binding (See Appendix 5, Figure 1 "Binding Turnaround Schedules for UC Libraries,"). Providing a two-week turnaround time for this great a percentage of binding has proved impossible to accomplish with current staffing at the Culver City Bindery, because it does not afford needed flexibility to accommodate fluctuations in workforce due to sick leave, vacation leave, other absences such as jury duty and disability leave, and equipment down time. To meet a two-week turnaround time for some campuses, the bindery has been forced to operate on an overtime basis for the equivalent of more than 2 FTE, and to hire less efficient temporary labor, at great cost, neither of which have been recharged to the campuses benefitting from the service. Since the bindery operates under a mandate to recover all costs, either actual binding costs (including overtime when needed) must be charged to the libraries based on their individual turnaround options, or turnaround must be equalized in order not to require overtime labor. The Task Force was charged to reduce the cost of binding, so we recommend the latter option.

The standard time to complete a binding order ("turnaround time") in the library binding industry is typically three to four weeks. Among commercial binderies, inquiries revealed that some offer a two-week turnaround to selected clients, often based on geographical proximity, and no bindery contacted offered a two-week turnaround on more than 50% of its aggregate volume of work.

The Task Force recommends offering the same turnaround options for books from all campuses to enable the binderies to deliver complete job lots in the scheduled time, without using either overtime or temporary labor. No change to the frequency or absolute size of shipments is recommended for any campus and there are no limits on the number of volumes that can be sent four week return. However, no more than half of any shipment will be completed in two weeks or less. Each campus will be allocated no more than 50% of its annual binding production to be returned in two weeks, regularized over a year. The balance of standard work will be completed in four weeks. If wanted by a campus, and with the agreement of its bindery, a campus's proportion of "two-week" work may be configured on a one week/three-week return, when this creates no difficulty in delivering the work of other campuses in the scheduled time.

When the UC Binding Policy was developed there was a clear rejection of the suggestion that each campus should negotiate its turnaround schedule independently with its bindery. On the contrary, the Task Force was given a mandate to develop a uniform systemwide policy for turnaround of binding. The recommendation offers binding services on an equal basis to all campuses, on a schedule that permits binding orders to be delivered complete and on time.

The intention of the UC Binderies is to offer two week turnaround service for as great a percentage of work as possible, providing better binding service than is commercially available, while operating on a cost recovery basis within the price list provided in this report. The Task Force therefore proposes that two week turnaround service be offered to all campuses for up to 50% of their binding work, on a trial basis. For each shipment of each campus a fixed number of volumes will be returned in two weeks. The balance of books in each shipment will be returned in four weeks. The number of "two week" volumes for each campus has been calculated on the total volume of binding from that campus in fiscal year 95/96. This proposal is based on the best information available to the Task Force, and should be considered a starting point from which future allocation of two-week work will be derived.

 

Campus Number of books per shipment to be completed in two weeks
Berkeley 800
Davis 525
Irvine 450
Los Angeles 800
Riverside 400
San Diego 650
San Francisco 150
Santa Barbara 325
Santa Cruz 250

No change to the frequency or absolute size of shipments is recommended for any campus and there are no limits on the number of volumes that can be sent four week return. However the campuses' cooperation in sending books at an even flow throughout the year will contribute to the binderies' ability to complete work on schedule and within budget. Substantial monthly variation in the number of volumes sent to the binderies makes it difficult to meet scheduled delivery dates with basic bindery staffing. See Appendix 5, Figure 2, "Monthly Fluctuations in Books Sent to Southern Bindery, by Campus," Figure 3, "Monthly Fluctuations in Books Sent to Northern Bindery, by Campus," and Figure 4, "Monthly Fluctuations in Total Incoming Books, Southern and Northern Binderies," for data on monthly variations in shipment size.

When this recommendation is implemented, libraries that wish to be sure of complete on-time shipments should, for one year, track the number of orders delivered within the projected turnaround time and the number of orders delivered late, as well as the number of orders returned incomplete. The binderies will track the overtime hours and temporary staffing hours during the same period. After one year, bindery management and the UCPP committee will evaluate the number of volumes that can be bound in two weeks and four weeks, with the goal to increase the allocation of two week work in the next year. Any future process improvements resulting in faster binding will be reviewed in terms of offering reduced turnaround times.

  • Implementation: phase in over three months
  • Party responsible for implementation: libraries will send job lots according to their allocation and will track return dates; binderies will return complete shipments on expected return dates without relying on overtime or temporary labor. Binderies will track labor costs for the year, particularly if any overtime or temporary labor is used. Binderies and libraries will both discuss problems immediately with each other, and with the UCPP. Binderies will return "call rush" items on the next scheduled delivery.

C2. To help libraries provide needed service to patrons, any volume on a four-week turnaround schedule may be recalled on a rush basis from the bindery at no extra charge. "Call Rush" volumes will be completed and returned to the library on the next bindery shipment.

C3. Since most campuses provide their own transportation, bindery prices do not include transport. In those few cases where transportation of bindery orders is done with bindery-owned vehicles, the campuses should be charged the full cost of the service.

  • Implementation: immediate
  • Party responsible for implementation: bindery will begin to bill campuses for transport service where appropriate. Libraries will explore providing their own transport.

D. Develop descriptions of standard products and unit prices

D1. The use of idiosyncratic terminology for bindery products at northern and southern binderies has been a significant obstacle to sharing information among the libraries. Varying terminology has led to considerable misunderstanding about the nature and price of bindery products by librarians and library staff. The Task Force stresses the importance of developing a systemwide standard nomenclature for bindery products. The standard nomenclature will be used in the Binding Manual, the Bindery Price List, in training materials, and in all documentation and management reports emanating from the Binderies and the Libraries.

  • Implementation: within three months
  • Party responsible for implementation: a Task Force to comprise librarians and bindery management

D2. A UC Bindery price list has been prepared, and is attached as Appendix 3. The price list provides cost discipline for both libraries and binderies, and helps libraries better manage their binding budgets. It includes descriptions of UC Bindery standard products and services, which are based on the cost of materials and labor needed to bind books within the scheduled turnaround time. Different levels of preparation and different styles of binding are described in detail in the price list. Pricing for specialty products, including phase boxes, custom boxes, portfolios, preservation photocopying, binding in maps and refolds, and new case only rebinds, will be based on time and materials. For prices and turnaround times of specialty products call bindery for quotes. The price list will be confirmed for at least one year at a time, and revisions will be proposed on a fiscal year basis, linked to binderies' contract negotiations. At least one month before the end of the year proposed changes to the price list will be presented by bindery management and reviewed by the UCPP.

  • Implementation: Fiscal year 1997/98
  • Party responsible for implementation: binderies

E. Standardized management reports to be provided to the libraries by the binderies

A careful review of procedures at all campuses and both binderies identified differences in many areas of documentation and management reporting. It is helpful to refer to the two outlines "Inventory Control Forms for Binding" and "Fiscal Control Forms for Binding" (Appendices 1 & 2) to fully understand the following recommendations for process improvement, including greater standardization. Whenever efficiencies can be gained from using electronic methods for storage and transfer of information, they should be employed.

E1. Use the UC printing requisition (or create a standardized form with the needed information for campuses that cannot) to accompany each bindery order. (inventory control)

E2. Libraries will identify and label each bindery job lot with a unique control number. (inventory and fiscal control)

E3. Binderies will notify libraries of the estimated cost of each job lot the week it is received, including any discrepancies in the number of items in the job lot, and any anticipated difficulties with completing the job as specified in the anticipated turnaround time. (inventory and fiscal control)

E4. Use a standardized packing memo or delivery sheet to accompany bindery orders being returned to the libraries. (inventory control)

E5. Libraries should keep internal balance sheets of binding liens and bills to best monitor their binding budgets, rather than relying on the general ledger, which is not available soon enough to be useful. (fiscal control)

E6. Bindery accounting clerks will send a copy (via fax, email, or mail) of the monthly statement or recharge request to individuals identified by each library, typically the binding preparation supervisor or unit head. (fiscal control)

  • Implementation: These recommendations can be implemented immediately.
  • Party responsible for implementation: binderies and libraries

F. Evaluate potential of the binderies to succeed preservation photocopying with scanning services for any materials that need conversion for access and preservation purposes

The Task Force recognizes the need for the binderies to seize business opportunities made available by new technologies to continue to provide needed services to the libraries, and encourages Bindery management to review and evaluate new technologies. Nevertheless, the Task Force recommends deferring evaluation of digital scanning opportunities, because a concurrent UC group is working in coordination with the Bindery and UC Printing on research and development of scanning capability, either as a substitute for, or in addition to, preservation photocopies. It would be redundant for the Process Improvement Task Force also to investigate digital scanning at this point, and premature to make recommendations until the UC Working Group has explored the technical and organizational feasibility of the option.

G. Communication

The work of library binding relies on an ongoing collaboration between libraries and binderies. To this end it is most important that open and regular lines of communication are maintained between both parties. Recommendations in this report for process improvements include suggestions to foster effective communication on those specific topics. In addition, each party needs to take greater responsibility for communication about issues that might affect the other party, and to make sure that issues are discussed promptly and by all stakeholders. Before introducing new services or improvements and changes to services or products, these must be discussed among all campuses and the Binderies. Any new services or improvements must be offered equally to all libraries.

Mechanisms for greater communication:

G1. Schedule annual visits of bindery management to each client library for problem solving, introduction of new products and services, strategic budget planning and cross training. Meetings should include senior library administration, binding preparation staff, and collection managers.

G2. Offer training for libraries' binding preparation staff, and visits of bindery floor supervisors to the libraries, to ease ongoing quality control and process improvements.

G3. Establish a UC Binding listserv that will be linked to the World Wide Web and the UC Binding Manual, to ease exchange information among stakeholders in binderies and libraries. UC Preservation Program should spearhead investigation of this listserv, including what server it would reside on, who would maintain it, etc.

G4. Develop a UC Binding Manual, as described in the UC Binding Policy, May 1996. The Manual will be available on line, and in printed form as needed, and will provide up-to-date information on binding, including the price list, descriptions of binding products and services, list of binding preparation contacts and stakeholders at all campuses. A draft Table of Contents is attached as Appendix 4.

Appendices

Last reviewed: March 4, 2004

Document owner: Catherine Nelson
Last updated: April 10, 2013