InfoExpress statewide courier service – November update

As we enter November, library courier service schedules have yet to return to normal. Indiana State Library staff continue to meet with NOW Courier, our current service provider, at least weekly to receive an update on progress since NOW assumed the contract in September.

To help alleviate some of the volume, Evergreen Indiana libraries underwent a second transit pause for two weeks in October to reduce volume in the system and allow the courier additional time to get caught up. This was helpful, and as of this week, NOW Courier staff tell us they have sorted through all parcels picked up from the previous courier. Even with this backlog resolved, many items shipped this summer are still in the system (either at the warehouse awaiting delivery, or at the shipping library awaiting pickup). Indiana State Library staff are asking libraries to refrain from submitting lost item claims until we have been notified by NOW Courier that only new items are in the warehouse.

NOW has been prioritizing locations with a large volume of items for delivery in order to clear space in their loading dock and annex locations. Most libraries have received at least one visit, and in some of the hub libraries schedules are drawing closer to normal. Unfortunately, we are aware that some library locations have yet to receive a visit, due to route staffing issues or volume prioritization. NOW reports they have hired four additional permanent drivers to the routes serviced by the central Indianapolis hub. This will helpfully improve service to Indianapolis libraries, the donut counties and even those further out serviced by this hub.

Indiana Humanities and the Indiana State Library have temporarily suspended their book club kit and other circulating kit services until service normalizes.

We are still far from normal service as subscribed. We encourage libraries that have not had any service since Sept. 1 to please contact InfoExpress. The Indiana State Library will continue to share updates with the library community at least weekly.

This blog post was written by Jen Clifton, Library Development Office.

Statewide library courier service update

A new statewide library courier contract began on June 26. Over these past two months, the Indiana State Library has received feedback on the new service from the entire library community, including everyone from library patrons to directors and deans of academic libraries. Unfortunately, the new company was unable to keep up with the volume and complexity of Indiana’s public library routes. While their administration was capable and communicative and some promising progress was made during the two months, the impact on libraries was felt widely. Many deliveries were made in error or not at all, mostly due to staffing and driver issues. For these combined reasons, the Indiana State Library will be pivoting back to the previous courier service to carry out the current contract. NOW Courier will assume ownership of all library materials currently in transit on Sept. 1. They will utilize the week of Sept. 4 to sort materials received, and then begin delivering to library locations the week of Sept. 11.

In an effort to help the new courier start smoothly, resource sharing in state – including Evergreen Indiana, SRCS and Indiana Share – will be paused temporarily. Evergreen patrons may still borrow in person from all member libraries and place holds, but interlibrary transits will not be occurring until Sept. 17. Evergreen users will also have full access to the Indiana Digital Library eBooks and audiobooks during that time.

While not all details are known at this time (e.g., how long it will take resource sharing to return to normal), Indiana State Library staff will communicate these to library staff when known. Libraries are encouraged to make sure their contact information in InfoExpress is up to date, as well as subscribe to the InPubLib or INLibraries listservs. Unfortunately, this new contract will result in added expenses for the state library and subscribers. The Indiana State Library will assume the additional costs for the remainder of the 2023-24 service year, and State Library staff will communicate next year’s rates as soon as they are known.

Please note that there will be no InfoExpress pickups and deliveries the week of Sept. 4. Please enjoy the Labor Day holiday and continue to communicate any known issues with State Library staff via email.

This blog post was written by Jen Clifton, Library Development Office.

Vying for vendors – The state RFP process

As a state agency, the Indiana State Library must follow state procurement rules whenever making a purchase or entering into a contract for goods or services. This is to encourage fair purchasing practices, while also helping keep costs low for the state. Some services that we regularly need bids for include:

  • InfoExpress courier service – We need a company that can handle the logistics of book delivery between nearly 400 library locations statewide.
  • INSPIRE – We need a suite of databases that can be accessed by all Hoosiers at any time of day, from any location within the state.
  • SRCS – We need a low-cost, unmediated service that can be used by patrons or library staff to request books from other library locations.

Whenever a new contract is needed, or a current contract is drawing near its expiration, the state library’s administration team reaches out to the Indiana Department of Administration, who initiates and guides the process. An IDOA employee is assigned to the project as a procurement specialist, and serves as a liaison between the library and potential bidders; ensuring a fair and neutral process without undue influence on library staff. The Indiana State Library also forms a team of reviewers and advisors, who may be from the library or other Indiana libraries. The team drafts an initial proposal that describes exactly what is needed and under what terms.

The state may post an RFP, a request for proposal; an RFQ, a request for quotation; or even an RFS, a request for services, depending on the type of contract and dollar amount involved.

At the beginning of the bidding process, a request for bids is posted to IDOA’s website. This is an invitation for all interested vendors to respond with information and a quote. These responses are compiled and reviewed by IDOA and then shared with the library’s team of reviewers and advisors. The reviewers complete a scorecard where they provide numerical scores and written comments over various aspects of the bid. The evaluation team may ask clarifying questions about the bids, and the bidders may be invited to make presentations demonstrating their product or service.

At the end of the process, IDOA collects all of the evaluations, tallies their scores, and puts them in preference order. To encourage supplier diversity, some additional scoring points are given to minority, women, or veteran-owned businesses. Vendors may be given one last chance to provide their BAFO, their best and final offer. Preference is typically given to the lowest-cost responsive bid. At that time, an award letter is written and sent to the winning bidder, and the other bidders are notified of the decision. Bidders may appeal if they believe a mistake was made. Finally, an announcement is shared with Indiana library staff that a new or improved service is available.

This blog post was written by Jen Clifton, Library Development Office.

Indiana Public Library Standards – ensuring the best possible library service for Hoosiers

Did you know that every public library in Indiana is expected to have the following things?

  • A licensed director and staff.
  • Separate collections and spaces for adults, young adults and children.
  • Weekend hours.
  • A collection development policy.
  • Free public computers, and the ability to print or make copies.
  • A resource sharing service, or lending arrangement with at least one other library in the state.

These rules, and more, are known as the Indiana Public Library Standards. This law is found in Title 590, Article 6, of the Indiana Administrative Code, and serves as a list of requirements that libraries must meet to get access to Indiana State Library services, as well as receive state and federal funding.

The standards rules vary based on the size of a library’s population area. For example, large libraries that serve more people are required to be open for longer hours. Smaller libraries serving smaller or rural communities have some relaxed requirements, including education and work experience needed for their director.

The Indiana State Library’s Library Development Office determines which libraries are meeting standards annually by reviewing libraries’ policies and plans along with the self-reported responses to the Indiana Public Libraries Annual Report surveys. Most libraries have no problem meeting the requirement annually. For libraries with standards issues, Indiana State Library staff will follow up with the library and assist them in correcting their issues, if possible. Following this correspondence, the Indiana Library and Historical Board reviews standards issues and may find libraries not meeting the requirements to be “out of standards.” Libraries found out of standards can lose access to state-sponsored services, as well as funding opportunities.

The standards rules have evolved over the years and are evaluated every few years by Indiana State Library staff and a panel of volunteer library staff from public libraries around the state. The most recent review occurred in 2021 but did not result in any recommended changes to the legislation.

This blog post was written by Jen Clifton, Library Development Office director, Indiana State Library. She can be reached via email.

Meet Emma Woods, digital inclusion fellow

Digital equity in Indiana is important because it’s necessary for access to essential services, civil and cultural participation, education and employment. This is why I am very excited to now be serving the Indiana State Library as their digital inclusion fellow!

I am an Americorps member serving through the American Connection Corps program run by the Purdue Center for Regional Development and Lead for America. In my previous role, I served the Uplands region of Indiana in developing county and regional-level digital inclusion plans.

I graduated from the University of Southern Indiana in the fall of 2021 with a bachelor of arts in political science and a minor in public relations. While in college, I found my passion for community building through my involvement in student organizations. This experience through Americorps has allowed me to continue growing my community organizing skills and make a difference in Indiana.

While serving with the library, I will be curating a digital inclusion plan for the state organization and presenting a three-part webinar series on what digital inclusion is, what resources are available and community implementation of digital inclusion strategies. I will also be promoting the various digital equity and inclusion programs within the libraries. I have included theses resources below as well!

Affordable Connectivity Program
The Affordable Connectivity Program is a Federal Communications Commission benefit program that helps ensure that households can afford the broadband they need for work, school, healthcare and more.

The benefit provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.

More information can be found here. Click here to apply.

FCC Map Challenge
Recently, the FCC released a map showing broadband availability across the U.S. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration will use this map to guide the distribution of funding for building broadband infrastructure through programs such as the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program. To make sure that the funding reaches the areas that need broadband most, residents and businesses are being asked to look at the map and verify that the information is correct.

Click here to view the map and to validate information. More information about the challenge process can be found here.

Indiana’s Digital Equity Plan Survey
As more activities take place online, it’s important that everyone has equal access so that all can take part in our society and economy. A survey about your electronic devices, internet access and use, and the difficulties you face will provide information for Indiana’s first-ever digital equity plan. The 10-minute survey can be found here. This is your opportunity to help Indiana become a state where digital equity is a reality!

This blog post was written by Emma Woods, digital inclusion fellow, Indiana State Library.

Resource sharing in Indiana libraries

There are 236 public library systems and nearly 90 academic libraries in Indiana. Most have their own catalogs and own their own materials. However, for the benefit of their readers, most of these libraries participate in at least one method of resource sharing. Resource sharing, or interlibrary loan as it is sometimes called, is when one library provides materials for users of another library. For example, if you visit your small town’s public library and can’t find any books about 3D game design, your library can probably borrow several from another library within a few days. Or, if you’re writing a research paper for a psychology course, rather than paying $24.95 to download the article from the publisher, your university’s academic library can likely quickly request a scanned copy from another library. School libraries, institutional/prison libraries, and even some special/corporate libraries are welcome to participate in many of Indiana’s resource sharing services.

The goal of resource sharing is to help patrons get access to the materials they need as quickly and reliably as possible, at a cost as low as possible and with as little intervention needed from staff. In addition to the Evergreen Indiana consortium which connects the holdings of over 100 Indiana public libraries, here is a description of some of the other services available to facilitate interlibrary lending in Indiana.

Indiana Share
Indiana Share is a statewide resource sharing service that connects participating libraries to all the materials available though OCLC’s WorldCat. Many larger libraries in Indiana have their own individual OCLC subscription, but through Indiana Share, smaller public and school libraries can benefit from the state’s subscription and request these same materials. An ILL staff person at the Indiana State Library reviews incoming requests and sends them to potential lenders, who then ship the books. With Indiana Share, we are able to borrow items from libraries all over the United States.

SRCS
Indiana’s Statewide Remote Circulation Service, or SRCS, debuted in Indiana in 2016 and has since connected readers with nearly 300,000 books at no cost to them. SRCS works similarly to Share, where library staff and patrons search a catalog of available holdings and select items to borrow. SRCS is unmediated, which means the requests go directly to the potential lenders. Staff at the library receiving the requests then locate the materials and ship them to the requesting library. The patron is then notified when their item arrives. This service is limited to participating Indiana public and academic libraries and is offered at no cost to those libraries.

InfoExpress
Indiana public libraries have benefited from InfoExpress, the dedicated statewide courier service, for decades. This involves a fleet of cars, vans and trucks that pick up materials from and deliver materials to hundreds of libraries statewide. The Indiana State Library currently contracts with Indianapolis-based NOW Courier to provide courier service, and participating libraries pay a subscription fee for service. The courier company maintains a schedule of which libraries receive service each day and then bills the Indiana State Library per stop – not per book, or based on weight. Over half a million parcels are shipped each year, bringing hundreds of thousands of books and other materials.

INSPIRE
Known as the lifelong learning library for Hoosiers, INSPIRE is the statewide virtual library available 24/7. The Indiana State Library sponsors access to dozens of databases and publications for residents of all ages to complete personal, academic or work-related research.

The future of resource sharing
The Indiana State Library’s Resource Sharing Committee, comprised of library staff from all types of libraries and supporting organizations around the state, meets regularly to discuss these existing services while planning for the future. While the future is unknown, the committee continually seeks to secure more efficient methods of lending with increased collaboration. The committee also continues to host informational webinars and conferences for staff working in resource sharing.

For information on any of these services, please contact the Library Development Office.

This blog post was written by Jen Clifton, Library Development Office director. She can be reached via email

Indiana’s public library districts and the 2020 census

The 2020 census figures are in, and Indiana’s population grew by nearly a third of a million Hoosiers over the last 10 years. While many were hopeful this might be the decade Indiana would reach the 7 million mark, we fell short of that at 6,785,528 residents. Some of the largest areas of growth were in the donut counties surrounding Indianapolis – specifically Hamilton, Hancock, Johnson, Hendricks and Boone – as well as Tippecanoe, Allen and Lake counties.

What do the decennial changes in population mean for your local public library? Over the next year or two, some patrons and staff might see changes in hours or requirements for future hires. Public libraries in Indiana are required to meet a set of standards required by statute, based on the size of their population service area. These standards dictate levels of service, including the number of hours a library must be open, as well as minimum staff qualifications related to education and experience for professional positions.

In Indiana, public libraries serving over 40,000 residents are considered Class A libraries, while mid-sized libraries serving 10,000-39,999 residents are Class B, and those serving fewer than 10,000 are Class C libraries. Just for perspective, over half, or 128 out of the 236 public libraries statewide, are Class C libraries with the lesser requirements.

Indiana public library classes are reevaluated every 10 years following the decennial census. A change in service population can affect a library’s class size, causing the library to need to reexamine their service models to accommodate the new or lost residents. In 2020, five public library systems – Goshen, LaGrange, Newburgh Chandler, West Lafayette and Westfield-Washington – increased their class size, while four systems moved down a class. For those who moved up a class, some will find they need to increase their hours, and staff accepting new positions may need to meet minimum educational requirements set in Indiana’s certification rules. This information was communicated to the affected directors in a letter from the Indiana State Library.

Indiana public libraries receive a majority of their funding through property tax dollars, so changes in population may also gradually affect a library’s tax base. Areas that have lost population may subsequently have lost funding, which disproportionately affects the smallest libraries in the state, many of whom serve fewer than 3,000 residents.

Finally, individuals who do not live in a public library service area who purchase non-resident cards may find that their fee has changed. That is because each library’s non-resident fee is based on the library’s cost per capita in the previous year, which will now be based on the 2020 population.

A table showing service area population changes for each library district from 2010 to 2020 can be viewed here.

Evaluating the census data also gave STATS Indiana a chance to update the interactive map of public library districts and contract areas in the state, which can be viewed here.

A special thanks to Katherine Springer, state data coordinator, for her assistance collaborating with the Indiana Business Research Center to examine and compile the 2020 census data for libraries. Thanks also to Angela Fox for providing public library survey data that served as the basis for determining library districts.

Libraries with questions about their service areas can contact Jen Clifton in the Indiana State Library’s Library Development Office.

This blog post was written by Jen Clifton, Library Development Office director.

Maximize your borrowing potential through Indiana’s reciprocal borrowing program

Did you know that as a registered borrower at an Indiana public library, you may have access to the collections of over 170 other public libraries? This is possible through the reciprocal borrowing program, one of the best kept secrets in Indiana public libraries. This blog post will share information about reciprocal borrowing, as well as other options for borrowing from other libraries.

Statewide Reciprocal Borrowing Covenant
While “statewide” is in the name, we will add a disclaimer that not all 236 of the state’s public libraries districts are participants. However, there are 172 currently participating districts all over the state. If you are a patron of a participating library, you can show your home library card, in person, at any of the other participating libraries and receive a borrower’s card with reciprocal borrowing privileges. There is no cost to participate in this service unless you incur late or lost item fees for items borrowed. Please check with the circulation staff at the library you are visiting for details about what is available to reciprocal patrons. Some services, like access to e-books and interlibrary loan, may not be available to reciprocal patrons per local policy.

Local Reciprocal Borrowing Covenants
Some library districts have opted to partner only with nearby districts to extend borrowing privileges to the patrons of neighboring libraries. These may include county-wide agreements or agreements between libraries that are close in proximity to each other. While the Indiana State Library collects information on which libraries are participating in such agreements, the circulation staff at your library can give you the most up to date information about whether or not they have a reciprocal agreement with other local libraries. There is no cost to participate in this service, unless you incur late or lost item fees.

Public Library Access Card
If your library is not participating in either of these reciprocal agreements, you can purchase access to all of the 236 public libraries in the state through the Public Library Access Card program. With a PLAC card, a borrower can visit any of the state’s 236 public libraries and show their home library’s borrowing card to receive a card from that library. PLAC cards may be purchased at the circulation desk at any public library. The cost of a PLAC card in 2022 is $65 per person per year and cards may be used for 12 months from the date of purchase. Before purchasing a card, a borrower must first have a current borrower card (or paid non-resident card, if they live in an area with no library service) from a public library district. For more information on the PLAC program, visit this page.

Interlibrary Loan
If you are interested in accessing the books or media on shelves at other Indiana public libraries, but are unable to visit in person, enquire with your local public library about interlibrary loan or other borrowing options. There is a statewide network of delivery vehicles that transport library materials around the state daily.

Evergreen Indiana
Is your public library an Evergreen Indiana library? Then you already have access to most of the materials at other libraries at over 100 other Evergreen libraries. Simply request materials from other Evergreen libraries to be shipped to your home library, or show your green Evergreen Indiana card to borrow in person from other participating libraries.

Please note that while libraries are happy to share with other libraries, whenever possible, materials should always be returned directly to the lending library, or the library from which that item was borrowed in the case of interlibrary loans or Evergreen loans.

We are happy to let the secret out about these ways to maximize your borrowing power. Happy reading!

This blog post was written by Jen Clifton, Library Development Office director. She can be reached via email

Beyond books: “Libraries of Things” in Indiana public libraries

Books. Newspapers. Audio and visual materials. These are all things one would expect to find on the shelves in an Indiana public library. But did you know that many public libraries have been expanding their collections to lend non-traditional items, known as a Library of Things?

According to the Allen County Public Library’s website, a Library of Things is a “special collection of ‘things’ that you can check out with your library card. These items are meant to personally enrich your lifelong learning experience – whether it’s through interactive outdoor activities, baking, music or art.”

Greenwood Public Library Binge Boxes – Photo credit: Courtney Brown, Southeast regional coordinator

Over half of the public libraries in our state are offering additional materials. While their collections will vary, you might find:

  • Technology: Laptops, Chrome books, iPads and tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, virtual reality (VR) headsets.
  • Crafting materials: Cricut and die cut machines and patterns, sewing machines, quilting and crochet materials, stamps.
  • Kitchen tools: Cake pans, cookie cutters, air fryers.
  • Audio and visual recording equipment, microphones, and light stands, karaoke machines.
  • Binge boxes: curated collections of books, movies and other materials about a topic.
  • Yard tools.
  • Tables and chairs.
  • Bicycles.
  • Seeds.
  • Passes to local attractions, including museums and pools.
  • Nature exploration/adventure packs: birding equipment, binoculars, telescopes.
  • Toys: Legos, puzzles, robots.

Kendallville Public Library – Snow shovel and homewares – Photo credit: Paula Newcom, Northeast regional coordinator

To see what your library offers, inquire with circulation staff or check your library’s website or catalog, including the Evergreen Indiana catalog. Some materials may require a rental agreement or deposit. Many materials are limited to a library’s own borrowers and are unlikely to transit or be available via interlibrary loan.

New Carlisle-Olive Township Public Library – Library of Things on display – Photo credit: Laura Jones, Northwest regional coordinator

Library staff interested in learning more about these collections may be interested in viewing this archived presentation for Indiana libraries, led by Dianne Connery, director of the Pottsboro Public Library in Texas, which is worth one LEU for Indiana library staff.

Enjoy exploring all your library has to offer beyond books!

This blog post was written by Jen Clifton, Library Development Office.

Savings opportunities for Indiana libraries

Indiana Public Libraries can save money on commonly purchased goods and services by leveraging the power of quantity purchasing agreements. Here are several opportunities that libraries may not be aware of:

LibraryIndiana
LibraryIndiana is a purchasing portal created by the Indiana Department of Administration and Spendbridge for use specifically by Indiana Public Libraries. School libraries can make their purchases through K12Indiana.

LibraryIndiana allows users to shop statewide-negotiated contracts, organized into convenient online catalogs. Some of the items available through LibraryIndiana include:

  • DEMCO Library supplies – Library supplies, furniture, carts, books and more.
  • Office Depot – Office supplies, computers and electronics, cleaning supplies and more.
  • Verizon – Wireless plans and accessories.

There are even contracts for janitorial supplies, rental cars, maintenance and other services. There is no cost for libraries to use the portal, and they may even enjoy cost savings.

Library staff interested in browsing the offerings should send an email to request a login.

Midwest Collaborative for Library Services (MCLS)
The Midwest Collaborative for Library Services works with more than 70 library vendors to provide central licensing and discounted pricing on over 2,000 library products and services including databases, eJournals, eBooks, library supplies, software and equipment.

More than 200 Indiana libraries are currently MCLS members and can take advantage of these savings. For more information, contact Chrystal Pickell Vandervest at via email or at 800-530-9019 ext 401.

Indiana Department of Administration QPAs
Many of the State of Indiana’s general quantity purchasing agreements (QPAs) are open to other governmental units like public libraries. Some of the purchasing agreements include: interpretation services, office equipment and copiers, wireless service, and vehicles. A list of all current state QPAs can be browsed here.

NASPO
Finally, libraries who send a lot of books and packages out of state may be able to take advantage of reduced rates on small package delivery services through NASPO, the National Association of State Procurement Officials. FedEx and UPS currently have contracts to provide discount shipping services through the State of Indiana. More information can be found here.

This post was written by Jen Clifton, Library Development Office.