Colorado Courier Cost Comparison Study

The Colorado Courier is a cooperative service of the seven regional library systems of Colorado. It provides delivery service for library materials to participating libraries across the state. The statewide courier service is administered by the Central Colorado Library System (CCLS) and funded by the seven regional library service systems. Participating libraries pay to use the service.

CCLS contracted with the Library Research Service (LRS) at the Colorado State Library to study how economical the courier service is for the libraries that use it. LRS surveyed 34 libraries using the courier service in February 2003 to learn how much material was shipped via the courier service during a week. The purpose of the survey was to provide data to compare the costs of transporting library materials throughout the state by the Colorado Courier service to using commercial alternatives like the United States Post Office (USPS), United Parcel Service (UPS), or Federal Express (FedEx).

Analysis of the data shows the courier service saves libraries money when compared to the cost of shipping the materials by commercial services. The cost of alternative delivery services is much more expensive than the amounts libraries in Colorado currently pay to use the statewide courier service. The least expensive alternative examined, USPS Library Mail, was found to cost more than 3 times as much as using the courier service when only weight shipped was considered. However, weight shipped would not account for all the extra costs libraries would bear in shipping by commercial services. Packing materials and labor add even more to the costs for shipping library materials commercially than are now required for the courier service.


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LRS is part of the Colorado State Library, a unit of the Colorado Department of Education. We design and conduct library research for library and education professionals, public officials, and the media to inform practices and assessment needs.

This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

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