12 December 2005 | Anusha Bradley
Book-buying in England's public libraries is to get a make-over.
The Museums, Libraries and Archive Council (MLA) has hired PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to develop a procurement model to make the purchase of books across its 149 library authorities more efficient and cost-effective.
The work follows the publication of a report in July by management consultancy firm PKF, which recommended the development of a national procurement strategy. Public Libraries: Efficiency and Stock Supply Chain Review
said: "Irrespective of who selects the books to be procured, it is essential that library services adopt standard processes if any real efficiency gains are to be made."
Margaret Croucher, libraries policy adviser for MLA, said each authority currently had its own procurement model.
The PKF study estimated that book procurement by separate authorities accounted for approximately 3 per cent of the total book market in England. It concluded the greatest efficiency gains would be made if all library services placed the same requirements on suppliers and negotiated through one mechanism.
The PwC project will consider how technology, such as e-procurement, and better supplier management can be applied to benefit all libraries.
The aim is to improve the availability of stock, free-up staff currently occupied with back-office work, and reinvest efficiency savings into services to benefit local communities.
A report recommending possible solutions is expected by June 2006. The preferred model should be in place by 2008.
Related links:Public Libraries: Efficiency and Stock Supply Chain ReviewMuseums, Libraries and Archive Council