Libraries are for Use

Demonstrating the value of librarianship

Ad hoc collection assessment


Today was a day for ad hoc assessment of our collection.  Yesterday, we received a notice from an ebook provider that certain packages are available. I was curious to see how many we already had in print and/or electronic.  I took a random sample, the size of which was to provide a 95% CI for the results, and looked each title up in the catalog, noting its availability.  I found out that we already had about 50% of the titles either in print or electronic.  Of those we already owned, about 25% were electronic.  So, purchasing the entire package would only have added about half the titles to our collection, at least as unique content.  However, we learned we could select individual titles, rather than only the entire collection.  So a library student worker will complete my work and we’ll provide a list of all titles in that ebook package that are not at all available in the library.  This will then be used by the liaison librarian to select the best resources.

A little more complicated was looking at usage of back files of book series offered by another publisher.  The sales rep had already highlighted the titles to which we had current subscriptions, and offered a discount for these back files (good work on the part of the sales rep).  I wondered what usage there was of our print copies, which may provide a clue on the potential usage of the electronic back files.  This required running reports in our integrated library system, a skill I am only just starting to acquire.  The most efficient method I could come up with was this:

  1. Look up the title in our catalog and copy the bib ID number.
  2. Paste this into a query in the ILS that gathers the item records only for the bib record
  3. Run the query
  4. Look at the results and record the number of volumes, total circ, total renewals, and 2-year circ.
  5. Calculate a circ per volume stat
  6. Highlight the titles with the largest stats.
There were about 4 titles that had over .8 circs per volume.  These should be the titles that would give use the most bang for the buck.  However, given our budget situation, all of this may not matter.
But, I was quite excited to do this work and provide this information.  It seems so much more informative and useful to our liaisons than requiring them to glance at long lists and expect them to make informed decisions.  While the first task was certainly something they could have done themselves, I doubt many would have had the time (let alone taken it).  The usage data should not be used by itself to select the back files, but I hope it helps narrow down the list of titles and stimulates the liaisons to consider the resources, rather than putting it in the “if we ever have money” pile.
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This entry was posted on January 10, 2013 by in Assessment, Catalogs, Collections.
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