Tuesday, April 26, 2011

From the Suggestion Box: Cheaper Fax Price

This week's suggestion box submission requests a cheaper price for sending faxes from the library.

As public library services evolved from the traditional core service of lending books, value-added services that met community needs expanded the library's offerings. First came manual typewriters for the public. Those became electric typewriters, then gave way to word processors and PCs. In the same vein, there were mimeograph machines that gave way to photocopiers, faxes and scanners. That evolution changed public libraries. But as budgets tighten, libraries find ways to offer these additional services while focusing resources on core services.

To do that, your library investigates cost-effective options for those additional services to help balance the budget. For fax services, as our population skyrocketed and demand for service followed, it became clear that faxing for the public was taking staff away from core services. At $2.00 for the first page and $1.00 a page for the remainder, the fee didn't cover the cost of the service. Some neighboring libraries recommended outside vendors that offered self-service fax kiosks. The library provides the fax line for the fax machine. The vendor provides the machine, credit card processing and customer support. For each fax sent, the library receives a percentage from the vendor. The cost is $1.50 for the first page and $1.00 per page for each additional page. The decision to outsource this service was a win-win: the price was lower with the vendor and staff time was freed for core services.

The short answer: fax prices are set by the outside contractor and lower than when public faxing was done in-house by staff. This vendor was selected because they offered the best package of services that met the library's needs.

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