Everyone has been doing such amazing posts that I felt compelled to jump in! As a little bit of background, I went to school with our other bloggers and am just as passionate about libraries, although my personal interests tend to lie in special collections and reference. After graduation though, I ended up at a library vendor company doing customer service. It's not where I saw myself heading, but it's been a good experience so far, and I think I can learn from it. I thought I would share one of the most basic and important things I've learned in a way that might help librarians.
So, we all know that libraries have budget issues. If you're talking to a vendor who doesn't know that, it is not a good vendor because it is completely disconnected from the library world. Library supplies can also be very expensive - I know! I see it every day! Especially if you're doing archival work or book repair, or buying new furniture. It can hurt.
But we can help! The company I work for offers discount codes to many, many groups of customers. If you are with a school or public library or in a state that has a contract or if you buy from us a lot, you might get a discount. Make sure everyone who would do purchasing knows about that - and always ask when you call in if you get a discount! We ask customers if they do, and we'll look them up for you, but only if you call. If you submit a purchase order or if you mail in an order or do it online and don't include it, too bad. The discounts can even include free shipping, which can make a huge difference. Library budgets are too tight to blow money on these mistakes!
And if the discount isn't enough of a discount, or if you're ordering a HUGE amount - especially furniture and book carts, ask for a bid! Most vendors, not just us, will offer a bid, and we will actually give you a bid on anything, even a small amount. It's useful if you need to get a purchase order approved, because it shows exactly how much things will cost. It can also save you money. At this company, at least, we're pretty friendly and we like librarians, and we understand budget problems. We'd rather keep you around than lose you because of a little pricing issue.
I know some people are nervous about haggling, and I understand. This isn't really even haggling - this is just asking what options are available to you. You might find there are more options than you thought!