New Postal Rates Take Toll on Interlibrary Loan Service

Article excerpt

Ramifications of the large increase in postal rates for library materials that went into effect Jan. 1 (AL, Dec. 1994, p. 976) are now hitting libraries across the country. Costs for mailing books have gone up from 66 cents a pound to $1.12 (with increments of 41 cents for each additional pound up to 30 pounds and 20 cents per pound beyond that), forcing some major library-rate mailers to discontinue books-by-mail service or library-rate delivery of reserved materials.

The King County (Wash.) Library System, for example, has ended for all but disabled people its popular books-by-mail service. Begun in 1972, the service shipped some 1.5 million items in 1994 at a cost of about $1.6 million.

Rebecca Cawley of the Northland Library Cooperative in Michigan said, "The size of this increase puts a significant strain on our already sparse budget, and I don't see how the Postal Rate Commission can justify the dispropotionate size of this increase."

Costs for interloan services at the Free Library of Philadelphia will rise some $20,000 this year, said Administrative Services Division Chief Bill Roberts. Add to that another $12,000 do will be eaten up by the rise in first-class postage used for overdue notices and other correspondence, he said.

Kay Vyhnanek, head of interlibrary loan services at Washington State University Library and chair of ALA's Interlibrary Loan Committee of the Reference and Adult Services Division, told AL that in addition to interlibrary loan and book delivery by mail, WSU approval programs will suffer cuts. "A lot of libraries are going to be hurt," she observed.

Arguments fell on deaf ears

In testimony last year before the Postal Rate Commission, ALA argued that the proposed library rate increase was unjustified compared with the 10% average increase proposed for all other rates. …