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Case study: National Library Service for the Blind & Physically Handicapped

Use purchase orders to get current titles

"For out of print or difficult to find titles, we always go to Alibris. They allow us to use purchase orders, which is very advantageous. Even with current titles, if Baker & Taylor or Ingram can't supply them, I go right to Alibris."

Patricia Steelman, Senior Selection Librarian
National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
Library of Congress, District of Columbia

Getting current titles other vendors don't have

NLS selects 2,000 titles per year for adult patrons and 500 for children to reformat into braille or audio versions to add to the existing collection. Our challenge is unique-for every title we purchase we need to find two identical copies so that the narrator and the monitor (who follows along and corrects any errors) can be on the same page at the same time.

We're currently transferring the collection from analog to digital master for download from the NLS website and for recording on flash cartridges for the soon to be released digital talking book machine. This means updating our collection with titles we might have missed and finding copies of the classics (e.g., we just got Roots from Alibris) that need to be issued again. We don't keep books after we record them so even titles we recorded before need to be purchased again.

Alibris also helps us fill in the gaps of series. We had started recording the White Indian series by Donald Clayton Porter in the middle of the series. Patrons wanted the first thirteen volumes in digital format. Most of those books were out of print, but we were able to find them on Alibris."

Benefits of using Alibris

We are really happy with how Alibris has expanded. We get more identical copies now than when they started. They allow us to use Purchase Orders, which is very advantageous.

We search on a title by title basis. Usually multiple copies come up at the top of the search results, which makes it even faster and easier to locate identical copies. We really like the reliability ratings for the sellers. We're willing to accept a slightly marked up or damaged copy if we're sure we'll get the book.

I do a lot of my preliminary searching on Books in Print, so it's helpful that BIP lists Alibris as a source for where the title is available. For out of print or difficult to find titles, we always go to Alibris. Even with current titles, if Baker & Taylor or Ingram can't supply them, I go right to Alibris.

We used to send a clerk to second hand bookstores to try to find the titles we wanted, but once we started using Alibris we were able to do our searching much more efficiently. Alibris has been very responsive, helpful, and reliable. We really appreciate what they're doing to improve service. Alibris is our vendor of choice.