The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 8, Number 1, Pt. 2
Feb 1984

Guide to Drafting of Contracts

Special Supplement on Library Binding

Library binding is a problem for many libraries, not because it is too expensive, or too time- consuming (although there will always be a demand for cheaper, faster service), but because of quality control. Of course the librarian who decides what to send to the bindery must bear the blame if valuable books are sent that need more sophisticated attention. Similarly, the binder has to bear the blame if directions are not followed or margins or text are lost. But what can be done beforehand to prevent irreversible damage to books of permanent research value?

Contracts between the library and the binder should be the answer to this question, but often are not. Sometimes it seems that they prevent satisfactory service instead of mandating it. Both parties may have reason to be impatient with the results. A panel on library binding at the 1978 ALA meeting held that

communication between librarians and binders is more difficult today than it was 35 years ago, partly because of a growing trend for purchasing departments rather than librarians to choose the hinder, and to switch binders every year on the basis of price alone

(Binders sometimes get a good laugh from specifications obviously drawn up by someone who was copying blindly from obsolete or inappropriate sources; but they may lose the bid all the same if they do not promise to meet the impossible and contradictory specifications that result.) .*

A good contract is not easy to draw up, but it is worth the trouble, especially if the materials to be bound have permanent research value. The librarian, not the purchasing agent, should determine the specifications, and the specifications should be reviewed yearly. The contract can be modeled on that of a larger library or library system, but should be made appropriate to the library using it. More librarians are getting involved in contract writing nowadays, partly as a result of the growing concern for conservation.

Input from library binders in this process--or at least from someone familiar with the capabilities of library binderies--is useful and important. Although it would be inappropriate for binders to take part in formulating the local contract on which they might later bid, their contributions to a general discussion can be quite valuable. If fuller and more efficient use can be made of the binder's capabilities, and if the contract can be enforced, the benefits would include cheaper and better service, better suited to the conservation needs of the collection.

* As reported in "Improving Binder-Library Relations," Abbey Newsletter 1 (15): 3- 4, July 1978.


Contract Guide

After considerable persuasion, a representative of a library bindery has agreed to break through the communication barrier and say what he thinks librarians need to know about bids, contracts and specifications. His contribution is in the left- hand column. In the right- hand column are the comments of a preservation librarian experienced in contracting for library binding services. Comments of readers are warmly invited, either for publication or for private, anonymous feedback to the two parties in this dialog.

Binder Librarian

Bids are:

1. Expensive. Librarians and administrative personnel spend an excessive amount of time and paperwork annually preparing to go out on bid. Bids have to be prepared wells in advance of the renewal date, and have to be updated frequently. (The time- consuming part of preparing a bid is the reworking of the binding contract so that it reflects current service needs and up- to-date technologies. This revision is not only expensive.. .it's essential
2. Inappropriate to the selection of a service organization. Any experienced librarian can attest that binding service consists of multiple deliveries over time, that communication to and response from the supplier are invariably required, and that treating binding service like a physically specifiable commodity by bid buying typically leads to the lowest initial price with the highest complete cost. Not necessarily. Many service aspects of a contract are quantifiable (e.g., turnaround time for regular service and monetary penalties for late deliveries) and others can be spelled out precisely (e.g., procedures to be followed when an item is lost or damaged beyond repair at the bindery, and the nature of the computerized services to be made available).
Where public funds are being spent through competitive bid buying, in the long run it is virtually impossible to exclude the unqualified binder. Not true. If the technical aspects of a contract are as clear, detailed, and demanding as good manufacturers' standards (and they should be), an unqualified binder won't be able to compete. For example, if acid- free paper is specified for inlays (the paper that lines the spine of the case), or if endsheets for a volume to be newly cased only (not resewn) must be sewn- on through the fold rather than stab- sewn-on- -and the bindery can't supply the specified material, or can't execute the work properly, it cannot meet the terms of the contract and is not a qualified bidder. It is extremely important to have binders submit samples of all binding styles specified in the contract, so that these can be inspected for compliance with specifications. Sending the binder a trial shipment can provide even more useful evidence of compliance or non- compliance.
It is very easy to underestimate the handling of the investment in poor client service, and extra administrative costs through unanswered correspondence and telephone calls. Where initial price is the major factor when bidding on binding, the unqualified organization can very often be the one selected. Very true, although time lost due to unanswered correspondence is the least of the costs of working with an unresponsive binder.
3. Not always required by state law. Most state laws | allow for negotiated purchase of services (as in the case of binding). In addition, some organizations have discovered that what was thought to be a state law requiring bidding actually was only a regulation from the purchasing office. Check your law. This is interesting, and worth investigating. Unfortunately, purchasing office regulations may be as difficult to get around as state laws.
4. Mandatory in some cases. If you are required to solicit bids, specify service requirements. Any vendor unable to meet the requirements set forth in your invitation to bid can be disqualified. This conflicts with the statement in paragraph 2 (above), that it is virtually impossible to exclude the unqualified binder.

The contract should--or may--require that the binder:

1. Assign one individual to be responsible for the library account. This individual must have the authority to act in the library's behalf whenever necessary  
2. Have a computerized system for producing slips for serials binding, and have operated it successfully for more than two years. The binding slips should be produced in at least three parts and include the following features:

a) Titled
b) Call number
c) Imprint
d) Panel lines
e) Volume nunber, month, year
f) Color of cloth
g) Color of print
h) Library name
i) Computer title number that can be used on a blank slip, if necessary
j) Style of binding
k) Special collation information for styles requiring this work
l) ISSN or Library Control Number box, to be used as desired by the library
m) Frequency of binding, indicated for one year duration
n) Special instructions box with ability to have permanent special instructions preprinted
o) Collation box for Class A work

Although the role of the computer is rapidly expanding in binderies, libraries are likely to discover that the bugs haven't been worked out of all systems yet. Libraries may need to apply the term "operated successfully" with some generosity.
3. Acknowledge all complaints within three working days of receipt.  
4. Provide the library with a printout of materials bound each month, if desired, Even more useful, and a valuable aid for public services, would be a printout of all items shipped to the bindery--to be received by the library within five working days of receipt of the shipment by the binder.
5. Indicate on their invoice when a volume is behind in schedule. This would be great.
6. Be willing to provide computerized information in readable form (e.g. title list, shipment sent, etc.)  
7. Be willing to accept collect telephone calls or have an 800 number. (This seems an unreasonable burden for the binder to bear. Under some circumstances collect calls might be appropriate (e.g., when the binder has repeatedly failed to correct a problem)--but in general, judicious use of the phone by both parties probably makes for better business.
8. Have representatives who visit periodically and who are available on request.  
9. Provide an annual printout which details all titles on file in the data base. This printout will be in alphabetical order by title and will, in effect, become a holdings list of titles bound, with binding information for each title.  
10. Be available to provide "in- service training" to librarians and staff members connected with the binding. Such meetings should focus on helping librarians better understand the problems connected with handling all aspects of collection maintenance. (Can we expect the binder to understand aspects of collection maintenance that are not related to commercial library binding?
11. Be willing to provide a list of three accounts over $25,000 or on contract, and a person to contact for service verification at each, (Accounts under $20,000 or $25,000 may not be cost- effective.)  
12. Be an equal opportunity employer and maintain an active affirmative action program, and should have a program to employ veterans and the handicapped,  
13. Be able to meet minimum standards for library binding as published by the Library Binding Institute in 1981 Yes, but the librarian must understand that this minimum standard stresses one type of leaf attachment--oversewing--which is very often not the most desirable way to attach pages together; and that not all aspects of the standard are necessarily acceptable (e.g., the library may want the spine lining of a volume to extend more than 3/4" onto the inside front and back boards). This is to say: the librarian should read the LBI Standard carefully and revise it if necessary, so that it reflects treatments appropriate for the collections to be bound.
14. Supply all material necessary to cycle materials to and from the bindery  
15. Pick up and deliver in bindery trucks, except for rush work.  
16. Insure each shipment for a minimum of $10,000; or for a greater amount if library specifies.  
17. Correct errors made by the binder, at the bindery's expense. Yes, and within a stated period of time. Some errors, however, especially those involving treatment of the text block, cannot be corrected by the binder without exacerbating the problem. The contract should address the situation wherein damage to an item is irreversible, or can be reversed only by a trained conservator.
18. Not subcontract binding work unless library agrees beforehand.  

Specific contract information must:

1. Specify pickup and delivery points and whether they differ.  
2. Furnish estimated numbers of volumes of all styles to be bound during the contract period.  
3. Specify the period of the contract, with options to extend, if agreeable to both parties. Prices may be negotiated at the time of extension.  

Binders claiming to do archival quality work must:

1. Use acid- free and buffered endsheets; provide custom-made acid-free boxes.

All paper (not just endsheet paper) used by an "archivally oriented" library binder should be acid-free and buffered.

2. Have facilities to do a variety of handsew styles  
3. Sew through the fold by both machine and hand.  
4. Be qualified to make a determination of the proper method of attaching leaves. (All binders, not just those claiming to do archival quality work, should be qualified to choose the proper method of leaf attachment. Perhaps it could be said that the "archival" binder deemphasizes oversewing, relies on less damaging methods of leaf attachment (adhesive binding, sewing through the fold), and retains original sewing whenever possible.

A binder doing "archival quality" work must employ one or more persons who are skilled at making archival paper repairs using japanese paper and a starch adhesive of high quality. All non-archival paper repairs should be made using an acid- free paper- based pressure sensitive tape, rather than a plastic- based tape.

Suggested criteria for choice of binder, other than low bid, could be combined on a point system with the following requirements:

1. Experience in providing expert binding services: ___points.  
2. Computer binding and accountability systems: ___points.  
3. Cost of binding as given in contract: ___points.  
4. Experience in binding and handling brittle material and unusual requirements: ___points. Brittle materials can often be bound--but is this procedure advisable?
5. Similar accounts previously or currently binding for ___points. A better approach might be to write a contract spelling out requirements in terms that are measurable and observable, so that it can be clearly proved to purchasing agents that a binder is, or is not, qualified. By inspecting a bindery, evaluating a sample shipment (one which includes a high percentage of problem materials), and asking questions of other libraries with which the binder does business, it should be possible to determine whether that binder can provide the requisite service. If there is more than one bidder who unquestionably fits the bill, it's time to look at prices.

Use of a point system can be problematic. For instance, if a binder is not set up to handle high volume adhesive binding, and does not have an adequate number of staff members skilled at properly cleaning the spines of books that are to have original sewing retained, no number of points in other areas should be able to tip the balance in favor of this binder's doing business with a research library.

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