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Increasing Use and Efficiency of Library Collections

Wake County Public Libraries

Innovation Leader: Betty Utley, Manager, Collection Development, Betty.Utley@wakegov.com

Problem Statement

Budget reductions impact the number of books that can be purchased. The Collection Development Department was challenged to increase availability of books as well as impact slowing circulation numbers.

Innovation

The department conducted a thorough review of system goals with library system staff advisory groups. Three major innovations resulted: 1) Our evaluation led us to alter our purchasing philosophy and buy fewer copies of first tier best sellers for preference to second tier books with a longer shelf life to better match our customers’ use of the collection. 2) Our evaluation also led us to simplify our loan checkout process and collapse all loan periods to one checkout period. This increased the loan period for a small segment of our collection and increased customer satisfaction. The majority of our books are returned to the library more frequently for access by other patrons at a time where we have shrinking resources available to purchase new materials. 3) This practice then allowed that we could stop applying date due labels – This saved financial resources (in-house and with vendors) that could be realigned to increase book purchases. Integral to success is using receipt printers already in place and educating customers to manage their accounts online. Staff resources were realigned to increase time on public service desks rather than managing processing tasks off-desk.

Progress

We are able to purchase several thousand books with the money saved on date due label costs and outsourcing cost to apply these labels. Professional staff are on public service desks more rather than working off-desk making processing changes to books. Books are available more frequently for browsing and checkout selection. Our analysis is not complete, yet we are projecting an increase in circulation by 30%.