January 19, 2018
Please share this with all staff involved with ILL/delivery.
Our transition to Expak has not been going smoothly. Labor problems at Expak had a catastrophic impact on delivery, creating an enormous backlog of materials throughout much of the system. We have received and heard your protests and complaints, and acknowledge the seriousness of the problem. We are working persistently with Expak to resolve the situation.
We know how difficult and stressful it is to go without regular delivery and pickups, and recognize the strain this places on both your staff and their relationships with your community members.
We take very seriously our responsibility to advocate for you as we continue to work with Expak to bring the Delivery Service in line with our shared expectations under the terms of our contract with them.
The LibraryLinkNJ Executive Board met on Thursday, January 18th to review, analyze, and discuss the situation. We’d like to provide the following updates to you for context, and to let you know what steps we will be taking next.
We Have Two Goals:
- Getting the delivery system to work
- Getting the best long-term solution for LibraryLinkNJ delivery
On December 18, we learned from Expak that the subcontractors they planned to work with in New Jersey had pulled out of their contract. While Expak worked to find a new subcontractor, we attempted to negotiate a one-week extension of service with our former vendor TForce/Dynamex to handle deliveries during the first week of January. TForce/Dynamex could not provide statewide service for that week, and we were obliged to cancel delivery service for that week.
On Monday, January 8, Expak informed us that the new subcontractor did not have enough drivers to provide full coverage for all routes.
Problems cascaded from there: the insufficient number of drivers and their often-inadequate vehicles led to substantial backlogs of material awaiting transit. The scanning technology we hoped would be in place immediately has not yet been implemented, as new drivers have not yet received the scanners they need. Your ire at having completed training in the updated processes for packaging library materials is quite reasonable.
What Has Happened to Our Materials?
We assure you that all materials picked up for delivery by Expak’s subcontractor are as secure as they were with TForce/Dynamex drivers, who did not scan delivery materials, either.
So, Where Are We Now?
Since we received the news that delivery routes would be severely underserved in the early days of our contract with Expak, LibraryLinkNJ has been doing the following:
- Staying in daily and constant contact with Expak staff to work out solutions for delivery libraries
- Contacting BCCLS, BELS, LMxAC, LOGIN, MAIN, and PALS Plus automation consortium directors daily apprising them of the current status
Sharing Expak route plans daily with all automation consortium contacts, showing which libraries are scheduled to receive delivery
- We will continue this practice until we are at 100% delivery and pick-up
- Responding to numerous phone calls and emails from member libraries and working to resolve the issues they raised with Expak
- Monitoring all ExpakShip Problem Reports
- Keeping the LibraryLinkNJ Board and the NJ State Library informed of the situation
- Supplied list of high-volume libraries to Expak to schedule additional pickups
What is Expak Doing?
- Using three depots in Cherry Hill, Jamesburg, and Rockaway, where materials are stored for sorting and delivery
- Hiring more route drivers and additional backup drivers
- Deploying box trucks from a secondary subcontractor to do targeted pickups of backlogged items at high-volume libraries
- Providing LibraryLinkNJ with daily route reports
- Adjusting pickup times on routes
- Following up with drivers on correct procedures
Addressing sorting facility capacity:
- At the Cherry Hill and Jamesburg hubs, sorting is organized and the backlog of items will be delivered to their destination libraries as soon as possible
- Work is backed up at the Rockaway depot. Expak is using a temp agency to bring on more sorters to work throughout the day to help sort the backlog of materials, so that the team of night-shift sorters can manage and sort incoming materials from the box trucks to clear the backlog of materials as quickly as possible.
The Next Steps We Undertake Will Be:
- LibraryLinkNJ’s attorney presented Executive Director Kathy Schalk-Greene with a number of options going forward based on our contract with Expak. The Executive Board reviewed those options and voted on January 18 to take formal action by requesting in writing that Expak provide an updated, comprehensive delivery services timeline, to include specific, date-bound benchmarks
- We will continue to work with Expak to fulfill the terms of the delivery contract
- We will provide timely updates at least once per week as we continue to shepherd this process towards a satisfactory conclusion
- Kathy Schalk-Greene is updating the Executive Board regularly. The Executive Board will review all progress on this matter at their monthly meetings on February 15 and March 15. These meetings are held online and are open if you wish to attend. If you would like to attend, please email Kathy and she will send you instructions on how to do so.
A Retrospective: How Did We Decide To Work With Expak?
- We are required by our purchasing guidelines to rebid the delivery contract every 3 years
- The LLNJ Delivery Taskforce and RFP/Evaluation Team did all proper due diligence in advertising for and analyzing bidder proposals
- LibraryLinkNJ had legal advice and representation at every step
- We used the services of a respected and experienced delivery consultant
- Recommendation was reviewed and approved by the LLNJ Board
- Based on that process, Expak was selected as our vendor
A Note On How We Communicate With You
We understand when you say that you’re not hearing from us as frequently as you’d like.
In the last two weeks, we have been in constant contact with Expak. Because information was flowing between LibraryLinkNJ and Expak so rapidly, with changes in nearly every conversation, we were reluctant to share an update in the morning, knowing that information would change by the afternoon.
We are sorry that this strategy may have left you feeling under-informed and frustrated, and we are reviewing the ways we communicate with you so we can keep you as well-informed as possible about changes that affect you, your staff, and your community.
LibraryLinkNJ will keep you informed by sending weekly updates about the new delivery service during our transition. All information on the transition to Expak is available at http://librarylinknj.org/delivery. We update this section regularly.
Kathy Schalk-Greene, Executive Director