A New Way to Manage Collections

We are all dealing with the sad truth that we must do more with less. A key component for libraries is to figure out how to most effectively spend materials budgets and make use of existing collections.

Many librarians have spent hours gathering information from their ILS, with the goal of analyzing their collections. Unfortunately, this can take so much effort that precious little time is left for the actual analysis. Rather than an ongoing process, it becomes a once-a-year chore.

Last year at MidWinter, I learned about a collection development toolkit developed by a Scottish librarian and now used by 50% of public libraries in the UK and being introduced into the North American market.

I was impressed. In a few minutes, the product puts together information from a library’s ILS, showing what subject areas and genres (using BISAC codes) are circulating well, which ones are dated, which ones are declining, which books are likely to be worn out, based on age and number of circs (called a “grubby report”).  It even shows which specific authors are rising and which declining in popularity so libraries can adjust their standing orders accordingly. Furthermore, by aggregating collection usage data, users can see what is working well for other public libraries and make more informed decisions about what to buy based on the experience of other public libraries. Sold as an annual subscription service, it requires no hardware and can be used by any authorized user from a PC.

Along with June Garcia and Susan Kent, who were also impressed with the product, I’ve been helping introduce collectionHQ to North American libraries through demos at PLA, ALA and BEA. Already some 40 libraries have signed up.

In these times, libraries can use all the help they can get to maximize their dollars. More information on collectionHQ is available here and through free live webcasts (schedule here) as well as individual Web demos.

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