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Technical Services Turnaround Time

Columbus Metro Library

Problem Statement

Eight years ago, the Technical Services (TS) department of the Columbus Metropolitan Library had an average turnaround time for materials of three weeks. The department was challenged to reduce this time to 48 hours from receipt of material to shelf ready for all public service locations.


The department conducted a thorough process review. A task force comprised of TS staff as well as Public Service staff conducted focus groups, time/motion studies and workforce analysis. This data gathering enabled the group to identify process bottlenecks, streamline workflow and increase efficiency. Additionally, while time was certainly a factor, quality was not to be sacrificed.

All TS staff was involved in the process not only to gather ideas but to test new methods. This review process is constant. We continually look for ways to streamline. While the task force was in place for about a year in 2003, the review process continues to this day.


Based on the work of the focus group and the TS department, the library hit the turnaround time goal in 2004. We have maintained and frequently beat that goal; in 2009 we averaged 1.5 days turnaround of over 437,000 items. Materials regularly leave the department in one to two days thus getting the materials into the hands of our customers more quickly. Another outcome of the changes implemented is that department staffing reduced from 50.8 FTE in 2003 to 28.5 by 2007.

We have insured catalog quality by utilizing Library of Congress CIP records when available and continue to do original cataloging when necessary. We adhere to the latest DDC as much as practical unless an exception will ease access for our customers. We do very limited outsourcing (book jackets, unwrapping of DVDs) because we have determined that we do most tasks faster, cheaper and more accurately than a vendor. We have tracked the use of the collection and turnover ratios continue to increase each year.

The team that led this change has been asked to speak at PLA in 2006 and 2008. They have also spoken at state and local conferences about the changes they implemented and maintained.