Dialogue of East European Partners (DEEP)


Computerized Book Distribution System:
The Case of Sabre-Hungary Alapitvány

Miklós Fogarassy and Katalin Kovács, Sabre-Hungary Alapitvány

Sabre Foundation's partner organization in Hungary, Sabre-Hungary Alapitvány, is an autonomous non-governmental, non-profit organization created for the purpose of distributing books donated by U.S. and European publishers. Sabre-Hungary is responsible for the selection, customs clearance, warehousing, cataloguing, and distribution of educational materials donated by Sabre Foundation. The books and journals are sent to Hungary in a 40-foot shipping container holding approximately 20,000 books.

At the time of shipment, a full packing list (with diskette) is sent to Sabre-Hungary along with the original bills of lading for customs clearance. The director of Sabre-Hungary is notified by the shipping company when the cargo has arrived at the port of entry, and a date of arrival in Budapest is confirmed. The customs clearance is assured by Sabre-Hungary (the donated educational materials are accorded duty-free status).

Information from the packing list diskette (in ASCII) is easily transcribed onto the computer database of Sabre-Hungary. When books are unpacked at the warehouse, any discrepancies between the physical inventory and the packing list are noted, and Sabre Foundation is informed. Each title is given an internal warehouse number and assigned to one of nine subject categories (which differ slightly than those assigned by Sabre Foundation): arts & literature, business, agriculture, technical, medical, computer, humanities & social science, natural & applied science, or other. Separate category lists are printed for each shipment and offered to educational institutions and libraries with interests in that area. A large university, for example, would be offered all subject lists, where the Economics University may only be offered the business, computer science and the humanities lists.

The appropriate lists are offered to seven different categories of recipients: academic, university, specialized university, college, public, specialty, and pedagogical. (There is a computer field in the record of each book which lists the institutions that were offered that title.) A letter is sent with the lists giving the due date of the order and a time period when members of the recipient institution can view sample copies of the books, which are held for this purpose at the National Library.

Once the orders are placed, the information is entered into the computer, and separate orders for each institution are run-off and sent to the warehouse personnel for preparation of the packages. When the individual orders are ready, the libraries are notified so that they can make arrangements for the pick-up of the books. For groups that are far from Budapest, there is collaboration among the groups for the transportation. In some cases, Sabre sends specialized library collections that are earmarked for certain institutions. Upon arrival of the shipment, these institutions are requested to pick up the materials. These collections are not offered for general selection.

The more than 1,000 recipient institutions in Hungary hold some of the copies of the books for their libraries, and distribute others to scholars, researchers and professors. English teaching books that come complete with ancillary materials are held by the elementary schools for instruction.

Acknowledgments are required from each recipient institution and individual. These letters are sent to the partner organization where they are held for review during the visit of a Sabre Foundation staff member. These letters are written in English and describe the type (titles, when possible) of the books received. Sabre Foundation uses the acknowledgments to solicit more books from the publishers. [During the conference, the participants had an opportunity to observe the Sabre-Alapitvány system at first-hand through a visit to the foundation's book warehouse at Törökbálint Depo conducted by warehouse manager Mr. Miklós Gelegonya.]

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