The Complete Guide to RFPs for Libraries

by Frances C. Wilkinson and Sever Bordeianu, Editors
Foreword by Katina Strauch


Learn how to write a Request for Proposal (RFP) so that you receive your library's desired materials, resources, and equipment at the lowest price.

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Cover image for The Complete Guide to RFPs for Libraries

August 2018

Libraries Unlimited

Pages 299
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Management and Administration/General
  Acquisitions and Collection Management/General

This comprehensive book covers the philosophy behind RFPs to prime readers to understand how to most effectively write them and provides instruction on navigating the submission process as it applies to multiple types of libraries.

For many years, only large academic and public libraries and a few library systems regularly used RFPs. Now, smaller schools, public libraries, and library systems use RFPs as tools to select vendors for computer equipment, online systems, databases, and materials. Library consortia frequently use RFPs to select databases and integrated library systems.

In this useful book, readers will learn more about the types and advantages of RFPs; the timelines and logistics for submitting RFPs; how to write different types of RFPs; how to evaluate vendor performance; the transfer process when a new vendor is selected; vendor perspectives; and RFP ethics. An appendix includes sample RFPs and evaluation materials, and a glossary defines language necessary to writing and understanding RFPs.

This book is essential reading for librarians who need to select vendors to provide library materials including books, serials, and media in all formats as well as for those who are choosing integrated library systems, security and inventory systems such as RFID, computer equipment and software, online and streaming materials such as books and music, or services such as digitization.


  • Teaches readers how to acquire an appropriate product from a vendor at the lowest price
  • Provides practical examples of questions to use in various RFPs as well as lessons learned
  • Includes sample RFPs and evaluation materials
  • Incorporates perspectives of librarians and vendors with experience in various aspects of the RFP process
Author Info

Frances C. Wilkinson is senior associate dean and professor in the College of University Libraries and Learning Sciences at the University of New Mexico. She is also administrative director of the Organization, Information & Learning Sciences Program, in which she teaches graduate courses. She is a recipient of the ALA-ALCTS Leadership in Library Acquisitions Award and is author of seven books and more than fifty articles and chapters. Her research interests include leadership, management, organizational development, competitive procurement/the RFP process, acquisitions, disaster preparedness and recovery, and computer ergonomics. She has chaired or served on numerous RFP committees.

Sever Bordeianu is director of technical services, outreach librarian for philosophy/religion and foreign languages, and professor at the College of University Libraries and Learning Sciences at the University of New Mexico. He also teaches undergraduate courses in the Organization, Information & Learning Sciences Program. He previously worked at the University of Michigan and UC Irvine. He is author of Outsourcing Library Operations in Academic Libraries: An Overview of Issues and Outcomes and more than thirty articles, and chapters. His research interests include cataloging (serials and authority control), competitive procurement/the RFP process, and collection development.

Table of Contents

CONTENTS Foreword Katina Strauch Preface Introduction

  • Chapter 1: RFP Theory, Practice, and Planning Frances C. Wilkinson and Sever Bordeianu Chapter 2: Writing and Evaluating RFPs Frances C. Wilkinson and Sever Bordeianu
  • Collections Chapter 3: RFPs for Library Collections Lee Sochay Chapter 4: RFPs for Academic Library Collections: Selecting a Serial Vendor Susanne K. Clement and Christine N. Sraha Chapter 5: RFPs for Public Library Collections Dana D. Vinke Chapter 6: RFPs for School Library Collections Shannon D. Pearce Chapter 7: What? Wait a Minute, No, NO!-Not an RFP!!! Anne E. McKee
  • Integrated Library Systems Chapter 8: ILS RFPs for Academic Libraries and Academic Library Consortia Lea Briggs Case Study: PALNI Web Scale Review: A "Non-RFP" Process by Kirsten Leonard Chapter 9: ILS RFPs for Public Libraries and Public Library Consortia Christopher Holly Case Study: Kitchener Public Library ILS RFP (LCCMS) by Mary Chevreau
  • Other RFPs for Libraries Chapter 10: RFID Security and Inventory Systems: The RFQ Catherine Jannik Downey Chapter 11: Procuring Digitization Services for Library Collections Kyle R. Rimkus Chapter 12: Services for Emergency/Disaster Recovery Edward Castillo-Padilla Chapter 13: Words that Bind: Using the RFP Process to Select a Binder Laura Kohl
  • Chapter 14: Vendors' Perspectives on Collections RFPs Justin D. Clarke and Patricia M. Rodgers Chapter 15: Librarian/Vendor Relationship Stephen Bosch Chapter 16: Vendors' Perspectives on Library System RFPs Andrew K. Pace Chapter 17: Ethics for the RFP Process Sever Bordeianu and Frances C. Wilkinson
  • Glossary About the Editors and Contributors Index



    "This volume should be read by every library vendor and every librarian in the process of contracting for a large purchase for their organization."Library Journal, Starred Review

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