Book Aid International warehouse

Putting partners’ choices first – our new book selection pilot

10th May 2016 | Blog

Here at Book Aid International we aim to ensure that every book we send is useful and relevant. Our selection processes here in London are overseen by a qualified librarian and we always match the books we send as closely as we can with our partners’ requirements. Recently we have piloted a new feature in our warehouse inventory system Swiftbooks, which allows our partners to select directly from the stock we have in our warehouse. This makes it easy for our partners to select books that they know will be useful for their library users. It also means they know exactly what is coming on each shipment and can prepare accordingly, speeding up their own distribution process and ensuring books get to readers as quickly as possible. We spoke to four partner representatives from Kenya, Zimbabwe and Cameroon who had recently trialled the new system.

Betty Kalugho, Kenya National Library Service

“Selecting from a list of available materials gave us a sense of ownership of the books we are to receive. We are able to identify with the books having been involved in identifying what we want. We also know what our library users prefer so we can go by that knowledge and ensure they are happy with what they get.”

Warehouse shelves
Books for selecting in our warehouse

Yeukai Chimuka, Chair of the Harare Distribution Committee, Zimbabwe

“The selection of books by the Harare Distribution Committee was a most welcome development in the book distribution. This enabled the committee to select books which are most needed by the beneficiaries. The selection was done by all the committee members to ensure all categories of beneficiaries are catered for. The selection was very easy and it enabled the committee to see the total number of books available for each title and how many copies per title the committee can have.

“The partner selection will go a long way in ensuring that there will not be any books which will be deemed irrelevant by the beneficiaries as they will be part of the selection.”

Letshani Ndlovu, member of the Bulawayo Distribution Committee, Zimbabwe

“The partner selections are a welcome development to us and the libraries we work with. For our selection as the Bulawayo Distribution Committee, we called a meeting with all the committee members and we did the selection together. We found this very interesting and useful in that we had control of what we will get when the shipment arrives. Since all of our beneficiaries were represented, people had the liberty to choose what they knew was required and would be useful for the libraries. We were selecting exactly what we knew was relevant for our readers.

“The process was easy and everyone was co-operating, we are looking forward to our next partner selection opportunity!”

Book distribution
Book distribution day in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Andrew Nyenty, Executive Director, EISERVI, Cameroon

“I am happy to be part of the pilot. It’s a great idea to get this very practical book selection system in place. It helps us to track and know what goes out and to where, as the books leave our warehouse. Most important is the fact that we are now fully involved in the decision making.

“With the Dewey Decimal Classification number included on the list, it will help our various librarians to get their books almost immediately to their shelves when they arrive the library. Book processing is no longer going to a problem. Congratulations!”

Partners work with our Collections Development Manager Stevie Russell to make their selections. Here’s what she had to say:

“I am delighted to see this development finally taking shape. This initial pilot involved three partners in two countries and a limited range of subjects, but the plan is to gradually roll it out to more partners in more countries this year, and to increase the categories of stock available for partner ordering. However, it is not our intention that all partners will be required to do their own selections – it’s a service we are offering for those who prefer it, but Book Aid International librarians will continue to select books for any partners who may not have the capacity to do their own.

For me, one of the most interesting outcomes of this initial pilot has been that, whilst we are empowering our partners to select books for their libraries, their selections so far have not differed significantly from what we would have selected based on their requests. The partner selections pilot provides reassuring evidence that books donated by Book Aid International are relevant for, and valued by, the libraries which ultimately receive them.”

Over the next year we hope to expand the pilot to other partners so they too can make their own selections directly.

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