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This LibGuide provides information about MSL's Van Delivery service.

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Join the Van Delivery listserv!

Join the MSL Delivery email list and receive updates and announcements regarding delivery!

Please make sure at least one person from your library receives emails.

This list connects you with important information about Van Delivery. It's also THE place to ask other libraries for Van Delivery bags, as well as items missing in transit.

Contact for Van Delivery

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Beth Crist
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Contact:
207-816-2999

Welcome to Van Delivery!

The Maine State Library (MSL) contracts to provide Van Delivery service to support resource sharing amongst Maine Libraries. Currently, delivery is provided to over 200 libraries of all types across the state. 

MSL has just announced that STAT Courier has received the conditional award of the recent request for proposal process for statewide Van Delivery service for FY2025. We know you have questions! Here are some FAQs to get started prior to the transition to the new vendor. Please know that this is a working document; we will continue to add to this as we receive more information about the transition.

Further information on interlibrary loan and reciprocal borrowing services is available here as well!.

Van Delivery, Interlibrary Loan and Reciprocal Borrowing FAQs

The simple answer is that like many states, Maine requires that purchases are made “…in an atmosphere of open competition.” (State of Maine Procurement Policy Manual)

The last RFP for statewide van delivery service for Maine libraries occurred in 2019, and only one bid was received. The current contract was to end on 6/30/2023 because the renewal periods in the 2019 RFP had run out, but with the hiring of a new State Librarian in December 2022, the Division of Procurement approved the extension of the current contract to 6/30/2024 as long as an RFP process for the service occurred in FY24.

Not surprisingly, given the rising cost of many goods and services, all of the bids came in considerably higher than current costs. We are currently calculating the exact annual cost for each type of library and will provide that information as soon as possible.

As this is a core service for Maine’s libraries and because we’ve heard from public librarians that financial support for this service is critical, MSL is committed to sharing this increased cost equitably. Starting in FY26 (July 1, 2025), MSL will partially subsidize one day per week of Van Delivery service for public libraries, and all eligible public libraries will need to pay into the service based on a very reasonable sliding scale. This change is necessary to keep the service sustainable. For FY25 (July 1, 2024), the current free day for public libraries will remain as is. MSL is aware that this type of change is an impact to individual public library budgets and will give those libraries a year’s notice in order to allow them to prepare for that change. More information will be provided by July 1st so that budget planning can start at the individual library level.

In June, MSL will reach out to all libraries currently receiving Van Delivery service with the cost for continuing their current level of service for FY2025 (July 1, 2024-June 30, 2025). Each library will have the opportunity then to tell us, using an online form, how many days per week they wish to have service. At this time any library may decline to continue on the service for the time being, and we will also welcome requests to join Van Delivery for libraries that meet the eligibility criteria (this criteria will be shared when the open enrollment period begins to add, drop, or change service).

STAT Courier has experience providing this same type of service to 16 other library systems/consortia in other states. STAT provides a dedicated service, meaning that trucks, drivers, and sorters only deal with library materials with no additional stops for other types of courier delivery. In addition, STAT has three sorting hubs in Maine with a night haul process (shuttling materials between the three hubs) that will help with efficiency. There is a 24/7 customer service phone line, and STAT will survey library staff annually to obtain feedback to improve the service. The amount each library pays in to the service will also change, but with the ultimate goal of creating more equity in the service over time. Please visit https://stat-courier.com/ for general information about our new vendor.

For the RFP evaluation, which followed the state-mandated process, cost was only a portion of the score total. The RFP was also evaluated for Scope of Service/ Implementation and Qualifications/Experience. Please see the Statewide or Regional Delivery Service of Library Materials RFP for more information about how scoring was conducted for this specific RFP. The Bid Selection Package on the State RFP web site has all of the public information about the results of our RFP process. State Procurement requires that a minimum of 25 points be allocated to the cost portion of the RFP score. Upon discussion by the Van Delivery Task Force, it was agreed to have the cost portion of the van delivery service RFP at 25 points, with the most points being allocated towards the Scope of Service due to feedback obtained from participants through the survey.

MSL will communicate ideas for how libraries of all sizes can address this gap in service, particularly around messaging to patrons. It is unknown at this time how much of a gap in service there will be, due to the ongoing appeal process. This makes it virtually impossible to create a firm timeline and work out all aspects of a plan in advance for how to address a gap in service.

State Procurement granted a Stay and Appeal to an unsuccessful bidder on 5/17/24. MSL and their Attorney General liaison requested that the Stay be reconsidered given the considerable public impact of the service. On 5/28/24, State Procurement lifted the Stay, which means that MSL can now resume contract negotiations with STAT Courier. However, MSL cannot enter into a contract (i.e., sign a contract) with STAT Courier until the appeal process is completed. The appeal hearing has been scheduled for 6/12/24. After the hearing, the appeal panel has 15 days to issue their written decision to the Director of the Bureau of General Services, who then has 10 days to issue a formal Decision on Appeal.

In the meantime, MSL strongly encourages libraries to remember that transporting library materials in personal vehicles is not a best practice and has liability/financial implications for library staff, the libraries involved, as well as the towns that provide public funds to those libraries. If a library is contemplating this type of temporary solution, MSL recommends contacting an attorney and your library’s insurance provider to make sure the library’s risks are discussed before implementation.

One of the unsuccessful van delivery RFP bidders filed for a Stay and an Appeal with State Procurement within the 15 day appeal window per statute. Both the Stay and the Appeal were granted, which means (1) MSL must stop contract negotiations with STAT Courier; and (2) a hearing will be held, led by State Procurement, within 30-60 days of the appeal deadline of 5/15. Both of these developments create a legal process that is not controlled by MSL. We worked with our Attorney General liaison to request, and have been granted, a lift of the Stay as of 5/28/24. MSL has asked for an expedited hearing given that the current van delivery contract expires on 6/30/24. For more information about the appeal process, visit the State of Maine contract appeals page.

Since the request for the Stay and Appeal created a legal process, our Attorney General Liaison has advised MSL to not discuss who filed the Stay and Appeal.

After discussions with our Attorney General liaison on Monday 6/4, the decision was made by Maine InfoNet to turn off inter-library loan (ILL) requesting for consortia and system libraries, and to ask libraries who operate stand-alone Integrated Library Systems to do the same.

The impetus to turn off ILL requesting now is to allow for materials to be returned to the libraries that own them, so that libraries will have the majority of their own materials in their custody.

This action does not affect the current contract costs in any way. The current contract costs are based on a per stop rate, not on volume. Turning off requesting for ILL means that over the next three weeks volume of ILL materials being transported will decrease. MSL expects that, per the current contract, all stops on all routes will be completed through the end of the contract on 6/30/2024

No. The current contract costs are based on a per stop rate, not on volume. Turning off requesting for ILL means that over the next three weeks volume of ILL materials being transported will decrease. MSL expects that, per the current contract, all stops on all routes will continue to be made by the vendor through the end of the contract on 6/30/2024.

No. The cost of FY25 van delivery for each participating library will be pro-rated.

Yes it does, since the RFP was based on the number of current participating libraries and their current van delivery service parameters. The per stop cost could be increased by the vendor if the overall days of service decrease for many libraries. MSL can try to negotiate with the new vendor; worst case scenario is that MSL would need to go back out to RFP with a new set of parameters, which would take 9-12 months to complete.

Patrons at libraries can contact Beth Crist, Director of Special Projects, and Lori Fisher, State Librarian, with any questions or comments: beth.crist@maine.gov, 207-287-9581; or lori.fisher@maine.gov, 207-287-5604.

For the FY24/FY25 biennium state budget, our previous State Librarian, Jamie Ritter, did ask for an increase in van delivery funding, which was approved. While the amount approved ($45,000 each year, FY24 and FY25) was lower than the original ask, it was needed to make sure MSL had enough general fund monies to pay for 1 free day of delivery for all public libraries in the service during FY24 at the current per stop rate.

MSL did not ask for any other increase in funding for van delivery in the FY25 supplemental budget since we did not have the new cost per stop rate resulting from the RFP process. The next potential time MSL could ask for an increase in funding specifically for van delivery would be for the FY26 & FY27 biennial state budget.

The new State Librarian was able to obtain State Procurement approval to extend the FY23 van delivery contract by one year in May 2023, so that an RFP process could be conducted. In June 2023, MSL put out a request to all libraries participating in van delivery for volunteers to represent stakeholder groups on a Van Delivery Task Force that would assist MSL to create the necessary RFP language. A task force of 12 members was formed in July 2023, with 7 meetings taking place between August and December 2023. The purpose of those meetings was to create the RFP contents that best reflected the service priorities of each stakeholder group. A survey was conducted in September/October, and those survey results were incorporated by the task force into the RFP. This task force has now been approved by the Maine Library Commission to be a sub-committee of the Commission, so their work on this service around evaluation, communication, and promotion can continue regularly going forward since this is such a critical statewide service for our library community.

MSL staff coordinated with State Procurement on a timeline for RFP submission and approval in November 2023. MSL submitted the RFP on 1/3/2024, a week earlier than the timeline indicated. Unfortunately, State Procurement decided that this RFP needed an additional review by the Office of Information Technology for IT procurement, which took four weeks and was not part of the original timeline. The RFP was finally issued on 3/26/2024 (3rd quarter) and the full evaluation process was completed, with a conditional award issued to STAT Courier, on 4/30/2024.

When the Stay was granted on 5/17/24, that meant MSL could not continue to negotiate with the RFP winning bidder, STAT Courier, for the initial two year contract. With the Stay now lifted, MSL can resume contract negotiations with STAT so that a contract is drafted and ready for signature once the appeal process is concluded. MSL cannot enter into a contract (i.e., sign a contract) with a vendor for this service until the appeal process is fully completed.

Library staff are encouraged to share the Van Delivery LibGuide FAQ with patrons so that they can understand how we have arrived at this situation and the complexity around it. Also, see FAQ #14 about who to refer your patrons to if they have questions you can’t answer or want to send their comments/questions to the organization (MSL) directly responsible for the contract for this service.

MSL staff truly does understand and shares your frustration. We know that you are concerned about patron reactions, and that you are worried that the credibility of your library will be damaged in your community due to this unprecedented situation.

The State Procurement appeal process for unsuccessful RFP bidders is in Maine statute and is a legal process that is out of the control of MSL. MSL and Maine InfoNet are working hard to figure out potential scenarios to address ILL/van delivery while working with vague timelines. MSL is communicating consistently and regularly with van delivery participants as new developments occur. It is imperative, since MSL has asked for an expedited appeal hearing in the first two weeks of June, that we hold fast right now and not make changes to current service that will damage our chances of a favorable outcome in the appeal hearing. We ask for your continued patience and know that we are truly pushing for clarity of timeline and process in every conversation we have with all of the different entities involved.

Materials belonging to libraries will not be left somewhere unknown for weeks. ILL requesting has been turned off for most libraries/consortia/systems as of 6/5/24. This means that materials will have a chance to get back to their owning libraries during the last three weeks of the current van delivery contract. MSL intends to communicate with the current vendor when advised we can do so to have the remaining library materials in their two sorting facilities after 6/30/24 delivered to MSL so that we can mail items back to libraries.

MSL has held meetings with our Maine Humanities contact for this program, and MSL is committed to having this program continue this summer through mail ILL. Libraries who participate in this program can find availability of Read ME titles in URSUS (make sure to check “all copies.” To request titles, go to the Interlibrary Loan request form and complete the form. MSL is handling request fulfillment and all mailing of resources, including paying for postage to and from your library. The return postage will be emailed to you when you notify Amy Cummings at MSL that your library is ready to send back an item. Please reach out to Amy Cummings for any additional questions.

The Book Group Kits are still available to request while ILL requesting is turned off for van delivery. The kits are available on loan for 6 months. Your library is responsible for coordinating pick up at the Maine State Library. If the van delivery system is back up and running by the end of your loan period, you may return the kits using that system. If not, you are responsible for returning them to the Maine State Library. A request form for libraries is being developed and will be linked to this FAQ item when it is available. Questions about the book kit lending program can be directed to Alison Maxell at MSL.

The appeal hearing for the Van Delivery RFP was held on Wednesday 6/12/24. The documentation around this hearing will close on Friday 6/14/24 with the submission of written closing arguments by the attorneys. From that date, the appeal panel has 15 calendar days to issue a written decision to the Director of the Bureau of General Services. The Director then has 10 calendar days to communicate that decision to MSL and the appellant. The latest we will hear about a decision is July 9th. We hope it will be sooner than that.

The panel can issue one of two decisions: validate the RFP award of the service to STAT Courier, or invalidate the RFP award.

In the meantime, MSL is negotiating a contract with STAT Courier with plans to submit that contract as soon as possible if we receive a decision that validates the RFP award.

Beginning in FY2025, the Maine State Library (MSL) is implementing eligibility requirements for public libraries to receive partially subsidized Van Delivery service. This is needed to keep the service sustainable for all libraries statewide and utilize the most cost-effective shipping methods for interlibrary loans. These requirements are:

  • Be a member library of the Maine Regional Library System.
  • Have at least one library staff member subscribed to the MSL Delivery listserv for Van Delivery participants.
  • Have more than 100 ILLs per year as reported on the most recent published IMLS Public Library Survey (PLS) for Maine libraries. The definition “ILLs per year” for this purpose is the combined total of the borrowing and lending ILLs per library.

Beginning in FY2025, the cost for one day of service per week for each library will be $2,158 annually. For a library that has, for instance, 50 ILLs per year, that cost is $43.16 per item. Media mail rates at USPS start at $4.13 per package. Clearly using media mail for smaller volume ILL libraries is far more cost effective than using Van Delivery. For libraries who want to participate in Van Delivery but have less than 100 ILLs per year, there are other options to consider:

  • Mail your ILL materials via the shipping option of your choice.
  • Partner with a nearby library who participates in Van Delivery to have your materials shipped there, and deposit materials that you have going to another library with this partner for their next Van Delivery pickup.
  • Join Van Delivery and pay the full cost for one day per week service for $2,158 annually.
  • Opt for on-call Van Delivery service, not to exceed one delivery stop per month, with your library paying for this more limited service. The annual cost for one stop per month is $1,020.

These new eligibility requirements are not intended to be punitive. They are also not meant to discourage any library from meeting this new eligibility requirement in the future and joining the service at that time. MSL staff are glad to work with libraries on strategies for increasing their ILL volume.

Twice per year there will be an open period in which libraries can request changes to their Van Delivery service, including dropping or adding a day of service, dropping the service altogether, and joining the service. For FY2025, these will be May for service July 1-December 31, 2024, and November for service January 1-June 30, 2025.

These requirements are tentative and will be presented to the Maine Library Commission in June 2024 for their approval.

It will begin July 1, 2024. We are unsure at this time how long it will last.

In anticipation of van delivery interruption, the Maine InfoNet Board has made the decision to turn off all requesting between libraries through the MaineCat, MILS, and URSUS systems. In consultation with the Minerva Executive Committee, the decision has also been made to turn off requesting between libraries in the Minerva System.

This action will begin on Tuesday, June 4.

Patrons will still be able to request and place holds on locally owned items, but they will not be able to request materials from other libraries. This is similar to the status we placed our systems into when libraries started to come back online during COVID.

It is recommended that independent libraries and systems follow suit and also turn off the ability to make requests between libraries and to stop the use of systems such as MEFIND-L to send materials to other libraries.

Turning off requesting between libraries will allow materials currently in transit to be delivered and will reduce the flow of new material entering delivery. This will help get as many items back to their owning libraries as possible and will help ensure materials are not stranded in the delivery system.

For the next week (through June 10), materials that arrive at your library through delivery may be handled as usual and put on the hold shelf. Items currently on your hold shelf may be checked out to the requesting patron.

At this time we are asking libraries to stop filling and sending out new holds for patrons at other libraries and to route all returned materials back to the item’s owning library, regardless of where the delivery slip may direct them.

More specific system instructions will be made available soon regarding workflows and best practices for handling incoming and outgoing materials.

This has been a tough decision but it is necessary in order to partially mitigate the problems caused by a delivery interruption.

No. Turning off ILL requesting in systems only affects ILL for van delivery. Libraries can continue to provide ILL by mail. Reciprocal Borrowing for participating libraries will also continue as it is now.

Sharing between libraries is one of the best and most valuable services that libraries provide to their members.

The ability to smoothly deliver materials between libraries is what makes this work. The contract for the book delivery service is held by the Maine State Library and is subject to State Procurement Laws and procedures. This contract was required to go to through a competitive bidding process (Request for Proposal, or RFP) this year since all contracts that use public funds have to ensure competitive bidding at the state level.

Contracting as a result of this RFP for book delivery is currently working its way through a legal appeals process. Because of this transition to a new vendor who won the competitive bid, and an appeal to overturn that decision by an unsuccessful bidder, there will be an interruption to book delivery between libraries at the end of the current contract which expires on June 30th.

We do not currently have firm dates for the length of this interruption, but we expect that there will be no delivery for at least six weeks this summer, starting on July 1.

In anticipation of this interruption, the Maine InfoNet Board and the Minerva Executive Board have made the difficult decision to turn off all requesting between libraries within the MaineCat environment, including Minerva, MILS and URSUS, as of June 4th.

Patrons will still be able to request and place holds on locally owned items, but will not be able to request materials from other libraries.

Turning off requesting between libraries will allow materials currently in transit to be delivered and will reduce the flow of new material entering delivery. This will help get as many items back to their owning libraries as possible and will help ensure materials are not stranded in the delivery system.

We know that this is a challenging situation that we are all facing. We recognize and feel the same frustration with this situation that you all are feeling. Your local library provides many other valuable services to your community, and we encourage everyone to explore those many services.

Reciprocal borrowing is a program that allows anyone with a valid library card from one of the participating libraries to visit any of the other participating libraries and check out materials in person. It's referred to as "walk-in" borrowing because it essentially turns your local library card into a library card that can be used when you walk into dozens of other libraries across the state!

Not all libraries in Maine are eligible to participate at this time because the computer systems currently required to allow participation are not used by all libraries. The Maine State Library and Maine InfoNet are continuously seeking ways to increase participation by finding solutions that eliminate these systematic and technical barriers.

There are two major reciprocal borrowing groups: the Minerva Shared Borrowing group and the Maine Reciprocal Borrowing group. To know if your library is a part of either of these groups, we have provided a list of the participating libraries from each group. Some libraries (seen in bold) are part of both!

Minerva Shared Borrowing members:
Auburn Public Library, Baxter Memorial Library, Belfast Free Library, Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library, Central Maine Community College, Edythe Dyer Community, Falmouth Memorial Library, Freeport Community Library, Friend Memorial Public Library, Gray Public Library, Husson University, Jesup Memorial Library, Kennebunk Free Library, Ludden Memorial Library, McArthur Library, Merrill Memorial Library, Northeast Harbor Library, Northern Maine Community College, Norway Memorial Library, Old Town Public Library, Orono Public Library, Pittsfield Public Library, Rice Public Library, Saint Joseph's College, Scarborough Public Library, South Portland Public Library, Southern Maine Community College, Southwest Harbor Public Library, Thomas College Library, Thomas Memorial Library, Walker Memorial Library, Wells Public Library, Windham Public Library, York Public Library.
The most up-to-date list of Minerva Shared Borrowing member libraries can be found here.

Maine Reciprocal Borrowing members:
Auburn Public Library, Bangor Public Library, Belfast Free Library, Berwick Public Library, Bethel Library Association, Blake Library (UMFK), Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library, Brewer Public Library, Calais Free Library, Camden Public Library, Central Maine Community College, D.A. Hurd Library, Edythe Dyer Community Library, Husson University, Jesup Memorial Library, Kennebec Valley Community College, Kennebunk Free Library, Lewiston Public Library, Libby Memorial Library, Liberty Library, Lisbon Library, Goodall Memorial Library, Ludden Memorial Library, Lyman Community Library, Nutting Memorial Library (MMA), Maine State Law & Legislative Library, Maine State Library, Mantor Library (UMF), McArthur Public Library, Mechanic Falls Public Library, Merrill Library (UMM), Millinocket Memorial Library, Northeast Harbor Library, Norway Memorial Library, Orono Public Library, Paris Public Library, Parsons Memorial Library, Pittsfield Public Library, Portland Public Library, Fogler Library (UMO), Ricker Memorial Library, Rockland Public Library, Rockport Public Library, Scarborough Public Library, Skidompha Public Library, South Berwick Public Library, Southern Maine Community College, Southwest Harbor Public Library, Springvale Public Library, Thomas College Library, Thomas Memorial Library, Thomaston Public Library, UM Presque Isle Library, Vose Library, Walker Memorial Library, Wells Public Library, Windham Public Library, Wiscasset Public Library, Witherle Memorial Library, York Public Library.
The most up-to-date list of Maine Reciprocal Borrowing member libraries can be found here.

In most cases, yes. Think of this program like the inter-library lending program where you can request an item from another library that your own library may not have. Each participating library reserves the right to limit what can be borrowed through this program. Generally, however, if an item is available to borrow through inter-library loan, then it is most likely available to borrow through this program.

This program includes “physical” items only – not digital content available via a library’s website.

Yes! Please make sure your local card is up-to-date, hasn't expired, and has no fees or fines. It must be in good standing to use it at a participating library. Staff at participating libraries may ask that you contact your "home" library directly to resolve any issue with your card or account because the staff at the library you are visiting may not have all of your account information available to them.

While the van delivery service is transitioning, please return the item to the library you borrowed it from, please and thank you for your consideration. The goal of this program is convenience and customer service!

As is currently the practice with interlibrary lending, you the borrower assume the responsibility for the replacement costs of any lost or damaged materials. All notices and bills will be generated by the "home" local library and will be sent to you - the same way they are currently - should an item get lost or damaged

Yes, that's correct! There are public libraries, academic and specialty libraries. Maine libraries are unique in the nation for their ability to collaborate and share their resources with each other. You have access to many of them through reciprocal borrowing.

Talk to your local librarians about any issues and to share your thoughts! Receiving feedback about this program is very important, and we want to make improvements where we can.

If checking out items to a visiting patron, please see the reciprocal borrowing instructions. The short answer is that you will look up the patron's library on the registry to confirm their participation and what system they're part of. Then, if the patron is from a library within your local system, you'll check out just like normal.  If they're from another MaineCat library, then you'll use the "Visiting Patron" function and check out that way.

If checking in items, check in just the same as any other item returned if they scan. If they don't scan, see the next FAQ.

If you have an item returned to your library that doesn't show any info when you scan the barcode, simply send it back to the owning library.  You can identify the home library either by stamps, text on the barcode, or by looking up the unique barcode leader on the barcode registry.

The system recognizes and prevents checkouts from patrons who have expired accounts or patron blocks on their accounts. Within your system, it will show you the blocks the same as your own patrons. Through "visiting patron," it will give a message saying that the patron is unable to check out that item and to check with their home library (similar to the message you would get when requesting through MaineCat catalog).

Once the item is checked out, walk-in transactions will look exactly the same as if the item had gone through delivery to the patron.  In fact, they are indistinguishable once the check-out has happened.

Walk-in transactions use the same loan rules as items sent through delivery.

Since they're coming from the same loan rules, notices and bills are generated and sent to the patron the same as if they had been send through delivery.

Charging for lost/unreturned items will be exactly the same as if the item was borrowed through delivery. In fact, walk-in billed items will be indistinguishable from items borrowed through delivery.

The program is for “physical” items only – not digital content available via a library’s website.