County libraries continue sharing as state distribution center regroups

Wood County libraries have temporarily begun sharing items as a substitute for the distribution system that has been paused on a statewide level.

Wood County District Public Library Director Michael Penrod explained the current situation that prompted this change at last week’s trustees meeting.

In July, the statewide contract for delivery of library items was awarded by the State Library of Ohio to a new courier. Since that time, patrons have not been receiving materials in a timely fashion and have experienced much longer wait times for items.

The State Library of Ohio ended that contract and will transition back to the previous courier, Penrod said.

“I’m not giving that company custody of one more copy of a Wood County District Public Library item,” Penrod said.

A new smaller system went into effect this week and was approved by the library trustees.

“It takes a lot for the state to back out of a two-year contract,” Penrod said. “We will continue sharing materials in our own little bubble. …We are taking preventative steps to avoid the chaos that we had before.”

The county plan was created as a group effort by the participating libraries. The new system is considered temporary and will continue until the new statewide replacement organization has taken over operations from the previous company. That process is expected to be completed in May.

There were still an estimated 163,000 items in the state system that are considered “in transit,” and as the company’s contract has been coming to an end more service disruptions have been noted, according to Penrod.

“Our consortia, which is a major portion of the state’s traffic, is taking even more steps to unclog the system,” he said. “That company is still delivering every day, but we are not giving them anything else.”

The new Wood County system covers the eight independent public library systems in Wood County: Bowling Green, Grand Rapids, Kaubisch in Fostoria, Luckey, North Baltimore, Pemberville, Rossford, Stoney Ridge, Walbridge, Way in Perrysburg, Wayne, Weston and the Bookmobile, plus the McComb library.

If a requested item is owned by one of the participating libraries, the hold will be filled by one of the cooperating public libraries and the items will be delivered as fast as possible to a new hub located in Bowling Green.

Library staff from each library will be delivering bags of items to the hub and picking up items for their respective libraries. If the item is not owned by a participating library, the hold will be placed with delivery delayed until the statewide system is back in operation.

“We are telling patrons that if they need something, we will get it; if we need to buy extra copies we will do that,” Penrod said.

Of the Wood County libraries, he said that they “have always partnered well together and will continue sharing.

“Let us work our magic and figure it out,” Penrod said.