Procuring library and school furnishings can be a complicated and costly process–from vetting vendors to receiving bids to coordinating delivery and installation, and so on. The bidding process itself can be time-consuming and expensive, often creating a “race to the bottom” in terms of product quality because you end up bidding solely on price.
The good news is that most public libraries, school districts, colleges, and universities are eligible to utilize state and cooperative purchasing contracts to get the materials they need. By taking advantage of these contracts, libraries and schools can save time and money in getting the furniture and shelving they need to make their spaces comfortable and inviting. Let’s talk more about how the process works.
Cooperative Contracts Explained
In simplest terms, a purchasing contract is effectively an agreement between a government entity and businesses to provide commonly needed goods and services at more affordable rates. More specifically, it’s a collaborative arrangement between multiple organizations, typically government agencies or public entities, to combine their purchasing power in order to obtain goods or services at more favorable terms, such as lower prices, improved quality, or better delivery terms. Cooperative contracts can exist on the local, state, and federal levels, but since most public and school libraries are under state jurisdiction, these most often benefit from state-negotiated cooperative contracts.
These contract programs exist so public entities like schools and libraries do not have to go out to bid for products and services. State cooperative purchasing allows libraries and schools to purchase things like shelving and furnishings from vendors via pre-negotiated contracts that have been established through the state government. This eliminates the long and tedious process of creating a Request for Proposal (RFP), which requires researching multiple vendors and negotiating prices on individual products from each vendor. All of that work has already been done by the state agency, so all you have to do is select a vendor whose products fit your needs best.
Advantages of Procuring Using State and Cooperative Contracts
State and cooperative contracts offer numerous advantages for libraries and schools over traditional procurement methods:
- Lower prices. Since pricing has already been negotiated by the state on your behalf, you’re going to pay considerably less for the products you need. All vendors who participate in these contracts offer tiered volume discounts for their products—starting with a minimum 25% discount off the standard list price, then dropping down from there to 40%-60%, depending on how much you order.
- Reliable product/vendor quality. The vendors who participate in these contracts are pre-vetted by the contract administrator, so you can be assured that all of the products adhere to minimum quality standards and that you’re working with a trusted vendor.
- Simplified procurement process. Because of the cooperative nature of these contracts, the purchasing process is streamlined and simplified. There’s no need for submitting requests for proposals or going through a lengthy bid process. All you have to do is select a vendor and place an order. Delivery logistics are often taken care of in these contracts as well, which saves time and energy.
- Additional benefits. Cooperative contracts often include additional benefits such as extended warranties and installation services that would not be available if purchased directly from a vendor without a contract in place.
- Fully protected. By purchasing through a state cooperative contract, you can never be accused of not being diligent with the public’s money if there is ever an audit. And the .library or school is fully protected through all the terms and conditions of the contract as well.
As a participating contract supplier for libraries and schools across the area, Creative Library Concepts makes it easy to purchase using state and cooperative contracts. To ensure full compliance with all contractual requirements, we include the contract number(s) at the bottom of our furniture and shelving proposals. This allows anyone to see which contract is being used and confirm pricing online. We also provide a summary sheet that outlines how to prepare your purchase order and where to include the contract number. We can even provide a contract-compliant blank purchase order for libraries don’t have a standard PO template. To learn more about available products and pricing via state cooperative purchasing contracts, contact us here.