By Beth Reinker, Collection Development Librarian, MSLS
While collection development is both an art and a science, analyzing collection data has become a vital part of collection development in modern libraries. With so much data available in your ILS, the real struggle is finding the time and methods to analyze that data and make it meaningful. Collection analysis tools can help libraries use data to build stronger collections, spend their materials budgets more effectively, and make decisions for the future. Here are some reasons that a collection analysis tool might be a wise investment for your library.
1. Actionable Data
2. Circulation Trends
3. Balancing Your Collection
4. Weeding Based on Data
5. Selecting the Right Books for Your Collection
6. Strengthening Funding Requests
7. Save Staff Time
Your library’s ILS holds an enormous amount of raw data about your collection, but without effective analysis, that data isn’t actionable. A collection analysis tool will provide reports and statistics to help you make decisions that will strengthen your collection.
Collection analysis tools show you circulation trends in your library. Pinpointing areas of your collection with increasing usage allows your library become proactive rather than reactive. That information may lead you to invest more of your collection budget in the materials that your community wants or to plan displays or programming reflecting your community’s interests.
Despite librarians’ best efforts, there are gaps in every collection. Regular collection analysis helps you identify and fill gaps in your collection.
We all know that weeding is a vital part of collection maintenance, but it is challenging for many reasons. Using a data-based approach allows reluctant weeders to feel more confident about weeding. It can also become the basis for making weeding a regular, routine task in your library. Your collection analysis tool should allow you to customize parameters to generate reports that will allow you to weed effectively.
Choosing the right books at the right time is simple in theory but very challenging in practice. Collection analysis tools provide information about your library and the overall market to help your staff make more informed purchasing decisions.
Whether you’re submitting a budget request to your local government or applying for grants, it is important to provide well-reasoned arguments based on data. Collection analysis tools help you identify areas of need and show how additional funding would help your library better serve your community.
Staff time is a valuable and limited resource. It is time-consuming to run reports and do the in-depth analysis required to make the data in your ILS truly useful. A collection analysis tool does that work for you, allowing you to invest staff time into helping patrons and doing the community outreach that drives traffic through your doors and increases circulation.