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					Draft – September 4, 2008

PURCHASE REQUESTS
Guidelines for monitors, selectors, acquisition, and other staff involved in the
provision of this service

Purchase Request (PR) is a service that allows members of the Yale community to
request that the Library acquires materials that are (a) not in the collection, (b) missing
from the collection, or (c) needed in multiple copies or formats. Requests are submitted
in more than one way:
     By contacting directly a selector,
     By e-mailing a reference librarian, or
     By using specific form that can be accessed freely from the Library front door
       (http://www.library.yale.edu/Internet/bkreq.html) or the Web site of individual
       Yale libraries (e.g., East Asia, Science, and Social Science). The same form can
       also be accessed from inside Orbis, with the difference that in this case a Yale
       NetID and password are required.

While based on the request process started by the online form, these guidelines outline a
process that ultimately affects all purchase requests, no matter how they are submitted.

The Purchase Request form provides preliminary tips to users, who are invited to (1)
check Orbis before submitting a request; (2) check if the requested item is in print; (3)
place a request (and select the ―staff search or delivery‖ option) for items that are not
checked out nor on the shelf; (4) use Borrow Direct or Interlibrary Loan for items that are
needed quickly; (5) use separate forms to requests items that are On Order, place
materials on Reserve, or request items for the Bass Library general collection (see
below); (6) place a request using the specific form or e-mailing directly a subject
specialist.

Two separate and simplified forms, ―Bass Library Purchase Request‖ and ―Course
Reserve Purchase Request,‖ are meant for instructors, faculty members and graduate
students involved in the teaching of Yale courses and requesting materials for the Bass
Library. These requests are handled directly by the Bass Library, and are not considered
for the purpose of the present guidelines, which therefore apply only to regular purchase
requests (i.e., requests of materials intended for the general collection).

The main form asks the Requester to indicate whether the request is for an item (1) not in
the collection, or (2) missing from the collection. If the Requester chooses the latter
option, a copy of his/her request goes to the Circulation department, who will start a
search for the missing item. These searches usually last a few days, at the end of which
the Requester is notified of the results. If the item is not found, the request is forwarded
to a Selector and handled as if the item were not in the collection.

The remaining two sections of the form ask for information about the Requester and the
item that is being requested.
For the most part, requesters are Yale students, faculty members, or staff. However,
anybody with a valid Yale Net ID (such a visiting scholar, fellow, intern, etc.) can access
the PR form from inside Orbis, and anybody without a Yale Net ID can do the same from
the Library front door or the Web site of individual Yale libraries.

How It Works
The basic process for an item that is not in the collection involves the following steps:

   Requester  Monitor  Selector  Acquisitions  Circulation  Requester

   1. A requester submits a purchase request form.
   2. The monitor reviews the request and replies to the requester, copying the relevant
      selector.
   3. The selector copied on this reply decides whether to purchase the item or not, and
      informs the requester of such a decision.
   4. If the decision is to purchase, the selector forwards the request/order to the
      Acquisitions department.
   5. Acquisitions place the order.
   6. When the item arrives, Acquisitions inform Circulation, and the Requester is
      notified.

The basic process for an item that is missing from the collection involves a few steps:

       Requester  Selector/Reference  Acquisitions  Circulation  Requester

   1. A requester submits a purchase request form.
   2. Circulation verifies that the item is truly missing and, if so, notifies the Requester,
      copying the relevant Selector.
   3. The Selector copied on this reply decides whether to purchase the item or not, and
      informs the requester of such a decision.
   4. If the decision is to purchase, the Selector forwards the request/order to the
      Acquisitions department.
   5. Acquisitions place the order.
   6. When the item arrives, Acquisitions inform Circulation, and the Requester is
      notified.

In the case of requests submitted directly (and typically via e-mail) to a selector or
reference librarian, the process remains the same but skips the monitor step (and the use
of the online form):

Requester  Selector / Reference  Acquisitions  Circulation  Requester

Each of the steps in the fulfillment of a purchase request is detailed in the following
sections.



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Monitoring the Requests
Requests submitted using the general form are forwarded to a dedicated e-mail account
(book.requests@yale.edu) monitored by a staff member commonly referred to as
Purchase Request monitor. The monitor

   1. Verifies that requesters are members of the Yale community. In case a requester
      uses a non-Yale e-mail account, or fails to indicate if he or she is a member of the
      Yale community, the monitor replies asking for further information in this regard.
      If the requester is not a member of the Yale community, but his or her request is
      valid, the Monitor can forward it to the appropriate selector for further
      consideration.
   2. Verifies that the requested items are not in the collection, or missing from the
      collection.
   3. Replies to the requesters.
           a. For requested items that turn out to be in the collection, the monitor
               informs their requesters of their existence and availability.
           b. For requested items that are not in the collection, missing from the
               collection, or needed in more than one copy, the monitor replies to each
               requester copying the selector who is responsible for the subject area of
               the item requested. This reply explains that the selector will (1) consider
               purchasing the item, (2) inform the requester as soon as a decision is
               reached in this regard, and (3) communicate with the requester in regard to
               the request, if further communication is needed.

Selection
A selector who is copied on a reply to a requester further verifies the validity of the
request and quickly informs the requester (with CC to the monitor) of the decision to
purchase or not to purchase the item.

If the decision is to buy, the selector forwards the request/order to Acquisitions,
indicating whether is to be rushed or not. This additional information is based on the level
of priority indicated on the form, where the requester is asked to choose between three
options (#2 being the default):
     1. Just add to the collection. No need to notify me.
     2. Notify me when available (usually within 4-8 weeks).
     3. Acquire as soon as possible and notify me (the Library cannot assure a specific
        arrival date).
If a requester chooses option #1, there is no need to expedite the purchase (especially
since vendors may apply surcharges on rush orders). On the other hand, a request to
―acquire as soon as possible‖ should be fulfilled quickly and entirely, which includes
notifying the requester as soon as the item becomes available.

Acquisition
Acquisitions staff keeps a ―Rush Log‖ where progress information is recorded for each
request. This includes: The Date Acquisitions get the request; the Selector forwarding




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the order; the Title and the Author of the item requested; the Requester; the Searcher’s
initials; the Date the item is ordered; the Orbis #; and Disposition.

Two weeks after an order is placed (or four in case of international materials), staff check
if the item has arrived; if not, they send an inquiry message to the vendor.

Typical delays in obtaining requested items are:
   1. Format (e.g., microfiches take longer than other materials);
   2. Place of publication: This is particularly true of materials coming from Africa,
       Asia, Latin America, or the Middle East, for which area curators deal with
       vendors directly;
   3. Items which are out of print or available on the rare and antiquarian market only.
       Thence the invitation, in the form, to ―Check if the item is in print to provide
       important information about your request. Delivery guarantees offered by online
       booksellers are not reliable indicators of an item's availability. Domestic in-print
       books generally arrive in 6 weeks. Foreign and out-of-print books usually take
       longer.‖

Although the basic process (Requester – [Monitor] – Selector – Acquisitions –
Circulation – Requester) is logical and effective enough, its efficiency is ultimately
judged in terms of fulfillment time, or the time it takes a requested item to become
available to its requester. The longer it takes to fulfill a request, the more likely we hear
(in less than flattering terms) from a requester who chose option #3 (―Acquire as soon as
possible and notify me‖) or #2 (―Notify me when available‖).

While to some extent, the time it takes to fulfill a request is beyond our control
(especially if the requested item is out of print or comes from overseas), we can certainly
make sure that all the steps and tasks that are under our control are performed efficiently
and in a timely manner.

And what we cannot improve in terms of speed, we can certainly improve in terms of
communication, by providing the requester with relevant and timely information on the
status and the progress of his/her request. This is particularly important, since
requesters—who are generally unaware of the ordering process and its technicalities—
may feel frustrated when no feedback of any kind is provided in weeks, or even months.

In other words, delays and other fulfillment problems that cannot be avoided can at least
be explained, and such explanations are an important aspect of the service.

What remains to be discussed and decided is

      What type and amount of information a requester should receive during the
       fulfillment process, and
      Who is going to provide it: the monitor, selectors, or someone else?




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But who is going to provide them with relevant feedback, and what / how much
information is relevant, or enough?




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