Posted tagged ‘circulation’

Bookless

September 15, 2009

I’ve avoided talking about the Cushing Academy bookless library bruhaha thus far.  Mostly this is because there is really nothing that hasn’t been said elsewhere.  But also because I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the situation.  The mere thought of a bookless library makes me shudder, but on the other hand libraries really do need to start thinking a bit radically and this certainly qualifies as that.

But now my local paper has gotten into the act, and has associated my library (as well as the nearby Lenox Library) and our budget difficulties with Cushing.  However, Cushing’s decission to turn their library into a techie information center doesn’t exactly speak ill of their budget.  What it does say is the Academy felt the books were being underutilized and that they were desperate to get students in the door.

Now this is a plan that just reeks of desperation.  The original globe article indicates that the library’s books were not circulating (albeit with fairly scant supporting evidence).  But let’s be generous and take this statement at face value.  If the academy is pumping thousands of dollars into a book collection that isn’t justifying that expense, then it’s not too hard to see how they could reach the conclusion that the books should go.  

This is sad, and horrifying, and despicable, but all too understandable.  I’m really hoping that history will eventually show Cushing to have been far too short sighted, but that may not be the case.  And I’ll be really surprised if another library doesn’t follow their example.

The Mark of Success

May 27, 2009

Yesterday I had the latest round in a series of discussions with a colleague about the poor quality of modern book bindings.  In particular this person is resistant towards purchasing materials for the library that have shown a marked tendancy to fall apart in the past.

This is a poor argument for a number of reasons, but I never seem to have much success at countering it with this person.  So here’s my case:

1) We have a part time staff member whose primary responsibility is to mend books, and she’s very good at it.

2) In the event that items can’t be repaired, they can certainly be replaced.  Books with cheap bindings have those bindings because they are cheap.  We can afford them.

3) Most importantly, books that fall apart from use is a great thing, it means they’re being read!  Buying one, cheap, book that circulates 15 times then dies is far better than purchasing a book with a binding that  costs 3 times as much but only goes out half as often.  

4) Longevity isn’t really meaningful to us as most books go out of date before they rot, and yes that can go for popular fiction as well as non-fiction.

This all makes sense, right?  Am I missing something that could build up my case?  Please let me know if you think so.

Publicity

April 22, 2009

Yesterday our planning committee entered the objectives phase of our 5-year plan.  Now we’re using the planning for results model for our plan in which there are goals, subdivided by objectives, subdivided again by benchmarkable activities; all of which can be frustratingly bureaucratic at times.

Now our primary objective all along is to ensure patrons get more use out of the library.  5 years ago when the previous plan was written (before my time) it was decided that the way to accomplish this would essentially be to get more stuff.  This plan failed.  Sure new stuff circulates more than old stuff but it doesn’t do anything to get more people in the door.

This time around we’re being a little smarter, focusing instead on our publicity.  The problem though is the structure of the planning for results model.  Increasing our PR efforts is an objective that fits perfectly under every goal we have, which people feel is just a tad redundant.  It is, but given how the planning model works that’s what must be done, and it’s a topic that certainly deserves the increased prominence that the repetition gives it.

But that still leaves another problem, we need ways to benchmark progress and this doesn’t really lend itself to any easily determinable service indicator.  Damn I’m starting to speak the lingo now!  Better stop before I begin thinking in metrics.  More next month.

The State of Publishing

May 30, 2008

The Times has published an article with a bleak analysis of the publishing industry, despite the fact that sales increased (albeit by a mere 0.9%).   The problem being the the outlook isn’t very good, sales are expected to plummet and there isn’t another Harry Potter phenomenon on the horizon.

But what’s bad for publishers may be a boon for libraries.  The basis of the slump is after all the economic downturn and books are luxury items after all.  It’s no surprise they’re one of the first things to get cut out of a person’s budget (just not my own unfortunately, it’s lots of pasta for me instead).  Thus I’m really hoping that circulation counts will increase as the sales continue to slump.  Cause I really need to have some hope.