Surrey council eyes savings from streamlined book-buying

Surrey county council is expecting to make £300,000 a year efficiency savings by implementing an automated ordering and invoicing system across its libraries.

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Surrey county council is expecting to make £300,000 a year efficiency savings by implementing an automated ordering and invoicing system across its libraries.

The council purchases stock for 52 branch libraries and five mobile libraries, handling around 230,000 items a year.

It has installed DS’s OpenGalaxy realtime integrated library management system, which uses an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) mechanism to transfer ordering details to Surrey’s book supplier, automating ordering, invoicing and delivery.

Staff can now select new books online and place orders directly via the website of library supply chain specialist Askews. The EDI automatically creates ready-to-approve orders in the acquisitions system from the information sent to the Askews website, removing the need for form filling and repeated data entry. When orders are approved, the system alerts the supplier to ensure the new stock is delivered.

The system also records invoice and delivery note information from Askews, automatically updating the library acquisitions system – and Surrey libraries catalogue - at every stage. Library staff no longer have to check off books as they arrive and manually enter their details.

The implementation is part of an overhaul of the library service’s stock supply chain processes, which has cut overheads and administration costs.

Surrey county council executive member Christine Stevens, said, "We welcome this excellent work to help our library service become more effective in the purchasing process. This will benefit our service and the residents who use our libraries." The new system is set to reduce the number of staff needed to manage ordering and invoicing from 17 In 2003 to three by April next year.

The council now makes 90% of its book orders and generates 80% of invoices using EDI – a percentage that is expected to increase when specialist suppliers are included in the new way of working.

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