A Brief History
DLS Australia began its life in July 1985, as Victoria Express Books. The company was originally jointly owned by S.A. Express Books in Adelaide (at that stage a major supplier to the S.A. Library Board) and Stephen Walters in Melbourne.
In 1987 Stephen Walters bought-out the Adelaide interests, and Victoria Express "merged" with another Victorian library supplier, Badlan Library Suppliers, with Peter Badlan becoming a Director of the Company. This association was terminated within 2 years, with total company ownership returning to Stephen Walters, who remains as sole Proprietor/Director to this day.
The Company name was changed in July 1991 to DLS Australia Pty Ltd and two separate trading names of DLS Library Services and DLS Distribution Services were registered. The reason for this change was mainly to facilitate the introduction of a wholesale distribution division to the Company.
Now in it's 30th year, DLS continues to operate, very successfully, both as a Library Supplier and Publishers' Agent & Distributor, with Library Supply being by far the mainstay of the business.
We operate from our owned 6600 sq ft office / warehouse at Braeside, where visitors are always welcome to select from our considerable stock of new and recently released adult and children's books.
A Holistic Approach To Library Services
Each of our customers has their own special requirements and we are flexible enough to meet such requirements, in almost all cases. We are not just "order processors" - we carry extensive stock, across all popular categories of adult and childrens books, nor are we simply "booksellers". Our services extend well beyond simply selling books.
Library staff are under pressure more these days to perform, than at any time in the past. We believe that it is our role, as Service Providers, to make book selection and acquisition as hassle-free as possible. We succeed by making it easier for our customers.
Our services are constantly evolving, to meet the ever-changing requirements of our customers, but they can be categorised under four broad groupings:
On Approval or Inspection Services
This is how we started - delivering new books to Libraries, on a regular basis, for selection - and it is still an integral part of our business. Visits can be arranged as regularly as weekly to a 2-3 monthly cycle, perfect for country libraries. The range of books we present for selection is governed by the customer and can be as limited as selected genres only, to a complete range of adult and children's books from Australia, the UK and USA. All books presented are new, having been released in Australia, or directly imported, since the last visit to that particular customer.
Our policy is to purchase sufficient stock, to ensure every regular customer sees each new book we buy. We present all books in easy-to-handle plastic crates, not in enormous tubs or cartons. Our stock of new and recently released titles currently stands at over 20,000 volumes spread across all categories of books, for adults, children, and young adults.
Books are usually left for selection for a week and the books can be either invoiced and left at the library, and/or supplied to order at a later date. Books can be left for longer periods if necessary, but most of our customers find that a week is plenty of time. A same-day service for delivery, selection and invoicing is the usual preferred option for our customers in country areas.
Our new title information services now focuses on our website and email bulletins. We produce monthly "e-catalogues" of forthcoming titles to be released in Australia, with links to these catalogues being emailed to all our customers.
These catalogues are produced by department - Adult Fiction; Adult Non-Fiction; & Children's Books (broken down further into junior, young adult, picturebooks and boardbooks, non-fiction, and graphic novels) - so individual librarians can access only their area/s of responsibility. We detail new books from different publishers or distributors, and group them to ensure that each department's catalogue has a manageable number of new titles.
We believe in not inundating you with emails, so only email you the links monthly. The links allow librarians to access the lists from our website at any time, and lists remain on the website for upto 6 months.
We also produce "special purpose catalogues" in areas, such as USA Adult Fiction and Picturbook titles being imported directly by us, but which are not being released in Australia by the general trade, and a monthly paperback fiction catalogue.
Our "Adult Fiction Checklist" - a monthly list of forthcoming adult fiction titles, from authors on our standing orders author listing of over 2600 authors - is also available on the website. In 2006 the adult checklist was also complimented by a regular online "Children's Checklist", for junior and YA fiction and picturebooks from significant authors, and "Adult Non-Fiction Checklist", for popular authors and series.
"Media" lists are also posted on our website weekly, listing titles featured and reviewd in state and national newspapers during the week.
All these catalogues and lists are stored on our website, where they are easily accessable for ordering and/or downloading of MARC records, for import into libraries' own systems.
For new titles of particular merit - potential non-fiction bestsellers - we produce promotional "e-flyers", which are regularly emailed to customers.
Our website database now contains well over a million titles. Searching is easy, as is on-line ordering, and MARC records can be downloaded from our site free of charge, even if an order is not placed. (It should be noted that the term "MARC" refers to a record in MAchine Readable Code. It should not be confused with a "Catalogue Record". All our records do contain sufficient fields to conform to a Level 1 catalogue record, but such records should be used as interim records only and not as library catalogue records.)
Of course, our very experienced staff are always available to assist with information on any books, past, present, or future. We are very aware that our customers rely on us to keep them informed, and that the quality and timing of the information we provide is a critical part of the supplier/customer relationship. We continually strive to improve our information services, and the technology we use to deliver these services.
This complex area can be split into these basic sub-groupings
Orders placed through inspection services
All orders received are collated each week and, wherever possible, are supplied from stock, or ordered from the publisher or distributor. Customers requiring books to be left are accommodated with invoicing on site.
Supplied from stock if possible but, as most special orders are for forthcoming titles or older backlist titles, it is more common for us to have to place orders with publishers for these books.
Urgent orders are treated as urgent, with every effort made to supply within 7 days of receipt of order. We do not charge a premium, or service charge, for urgent orders. We have accounts with efficient wholesalers in both the UK and USA, to enable us to easily obtain books which are not stocked locally. We always use airfreight from our overseas sources, at no extra charge to our customers.
Standing Order Services
All standing orders get priority on first available stock, and are processed through separate sub-accounts, to enable us and or customers to separate standing orders from all other orders.
- Adult Fiction - We supply adult fiction titles on standing order to 17 Public Library Services in Victoria. This represents an extremely valuable part of our business. We provide an extensive list of suggested authors - currently over 2600 authors - and this list is constantly updated with new additions.
We also supply paperback titles by genre - such as crime, romance, fantasy, sci-fi and westerns - on standing order.
Our service is unique in that we notify our customers of forthcoming titles and the expected release date, through our monthly "Adult Fiction Checklist". We can also provide customer reports for all books ordered in advance of publication, for each standing order account.
- Children's Books - Many of our customers purchase childrens books from us on standing order, both for popular authors and paperback series.
The wide-spread popularity of manga has also seen many library services adding "Graphic Novels" to their standing orders.
Once again we supply a list of suggested authors and/or series to work from, which is regularly updated, and notify our customers of forthcoming titles and the expected release date, through our monthly "Children's Fiction Checklist".
- Adult Non-Fiction - We have supplied many non-fiction titles under our "Reference Books" standing order plans for many years but, in 2005-06 we began a standing order service for non-fiction titles from an extensive list of authors and repeating titles and/or series. Our list, which has been compiled with the valued assistance some of our regular customers, is available for consideration.
We also notify our customers of forthcoming titles and the expected release date, through our monthly "Adult Non-Fiction Checklist".
- Travel Guides- Our lists of all the popular travel guides make standing order management easy.
- Reference Books- Many reference titles - annuals; etc. - are able to be supplied on standing order. We often supply very expensive reference titles at reasonable prices. We can supply a list of titles, with prices and discounts. We will also be happy to quote for any titles not on our current list.
- Media - In 2005 we began our weekly media lists on our website. Many of our customers have found these useful, and are now receiving titles on these lists on standing order.
All titles on our database can be ordered on-line from our website, and MARC records downloaded. All orders placed on-line are immediately confirmed by return email.
On-line ordering, and provision of information on-line, is the key focus area for our development, but we will not fall down on the basics of library supply. We do not plan to become an "On-line Bookseller". Pre-publication on-line orders are supplied from the first available stock, so there is no risk of books going out-of-stock, or out-of-print before orders is filled.
The site is for approved users only and is not available for access to the general public for browsing. This provides safety and reassurance to both the customer and to us. It allows monitoring of users and to ensure it is only accessed for the purpose it is intended for.
To boost your collection in a particular subject area, you can supply us with a subject/dewey "profilev and we create a list of titles from a variety of sources at our disposal. We use the combined resources of our own database and Bookdata.
We also offer a "supply to profile" service, a nominated amount to spend is allocated by you in different categories, like fiction, picturebooks, etc., and we do the rest.
We all rely on information supplied to us by publishers and/or distributors, and constantly press for accurate information, to forward to our customers. With the very best intent and diligence, it is not possible for us to give guaranteed reports at all times, but we do try - very hard. We are always happy to chase particular outstanding orders to get an updated report from the supplier.
We often run separate sub-accounts for different library "departments", to enable us to not only split-up back order reports for different types of books, or types of orders (like standing orders), but also to enable us to report to our customers on expenditure by "department".
As much as possible we catalogue in-house via Libraries Australia. By keeping cataloguing and processing in-house, we can maintain quality control, and prioritise work flow. This enables us to ensure prompt supply of all urgent items, e.g fiction best-sellers, to the customer.
All our services are geared to the needs of our customers, so they change and grow with these needs.
If there is a particular need for a particular service at your library, which has not been detailed in any of the above, then please ask. Chances are we already do it for at least one of our customers but, if we don't, we are always eager to take on new challenges.