Re: Mailing wrappers TSANDERS@AUDUCVAX.BITNET 26 May 1991 21:44 UTC

I've been working with serials for at least 20 years and I do not believe the ov
   erall problem with wrapping materials is getting worse, although the actual
materials used do change from time to time.  The problem seems to be that there
are no really good new approaches and, as the number of titles being published
increases, so does the amount of trash.  I see the following as problems which
have gotten worse in the past 20 years and which show no signs of improving:

1) Multiple advertising mailings.  Computerization is wonderful only if
you monitor your database.  I know that some publishers say it costs them more
to clean the database than to pay for the mailings, but I see that as just
another argument for raising postage rates to advertisers.  It is very discoura-
ging to face 20-30 duplicates of the same ad trying to get you to enter a
subscription for something you already take.  With the wonders of computer
manipulation, it seems as if everyone working at this university now has an
address that includes the words "Serials Department" at some point--professors
in chemistry and engineering, managers in physical plant, librarians who
retired 10 years ago, et al.  This all goes to the landfill, as little is
recyclable and we have too little staff to do more sorting for recylcing than
we already do.

2) Styrofoam packaging--especially "peanuts".  We got a box just the other day
with 2 inches of back issues and 6 inches of "peanuts".  These create an awful
mess, and we do too little shipping out of materials for them to be saved and
reused.  I suppose we could glue them together and create a "library expansion
of the future" but we haven't that much time and glue.

3) Bundling of all the issues for a particular state or region together.  We've
always had some of this, but it seems endemic lately.  We routinely get all the
state of Alabama issues of certain titles, often in plastic sleeves held togethe
   r with plastic straps.  (What amazes me is that our copy is not always the to
copy--how does the post office decide to send them here first?)  I am sure some
of the titles we get complaints about--Tulane has their copy, why don't we have
ours--can be traced to this sort of practice (Yes, Tulane is NOT in Alabama--
but we sometimes get their mail, so I assume they sometimes get ours).

4) The use of plastic straps to hold bundles of mail, or large boxes, together.
Yes, the old metal straps were worse, as anyone cut by one will remember, but
we seldom have a box broken en route--certainly there are unnecessary
financial and ecological costs to this practice.  (At least we used to be able
to save and reuse the twine, when that was used.)

5) As much as I hate tos ay it, routine "newsy" mailings by publishers and
vendors.  (tos ay = to say)  It is nice to know that personnel has been
reshuffled, the tulips are blooming, and someone I will never meet has had a
baby.  I suppose.  This stuff is quickly glanced through and discarded.  If
there is information--an indication of price increases, or a change of our
contact person, I need to know but two lines will do.  The rest is landfill.

6) The "aren't you glad we rented this mailing list" garbage.  The samples of
headache medicine I can use, especially in serials, but the 40 chances to win
a million from Publishers Clearinghouse, forget.

So--I think packaging of individual issues, while wasteful, is not the worst
landfill problem serials faces.  There are others which seem to be on the
increase, especially in declining economic periods.  At least we no longer
have to cur through the layers of cloth and paper, or smell those vile
chemicals some of the foreign titles used to be sprayed with.

Thomas Sanders, Serials, Auburn University (tsanders@auducvax)