Hawaii Terminates Outsourcing Contract

Article excerpt

Hawaii State Librarian Bart Kane delivered a termination notice to book wholesaler Baker & Taylor on July 11 that effectively ends the controversial agreement to outsource technical services in the Hawaii State Public Library System (HSPLS).

The notice, which gave B&T 10 days to remedy nine specific areas in which it allegedly defaulted in its contract to supply books, was handed to company representatives after nearly a full day of talks. Kane told American Libraries that he had been prepared to send the letter on July 3, but the company had requested a face-to-face conference first. The meeting ended without the parties reaching a mutually satisfactory solution.

The nine areas of default cited in the notice are more detailed descriptions of performance problems that Kane had listed in a February 12 letter to B&T. They include failure to adhere to the branch libraries' collection profiles and failure to provide adequate supplies of large-print books, award winners, standing orders, best-sellers, children's and young adult books, reference books, and Hawaiiana.

B&T's Senior Vice President for Customized Library Services Arnie Wight told AL that the company was in the process of responding by the July 21 deadline. "What we have to do is put together the best remedy and response based on the situation," he said. "Then it's back in the library's court to review it."

But the notice calls for a remedy that essentially requires Baker & Taylor to ship some 60,000 books within 10 days - an estimate of the 1996 and 1997 units the company admits to defaulting on. As Kaneohe Public Library's Deborah Gutermuth told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, "Even if they emptied their warehouse, I highly doubt Baker & Taylor has the ability to produce a finished product. . . . It may just be a 10-day delay of the inevitable."

And the inevitable is that book selection in Hawaii will henceforth be conducted by Hawaiian librarians. …