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Shelving Allocation at BCPL

Baltimore County Public Library

Innovation Summary

We developed a system to better measure and track the shelving allocation at each branch to improve our shelving allocation measurements and results.

Problem Statement

Now that we have access to much more data using the Polaris ILS and other tools, we felt the need to do a concrete measurement of shelving and how it is allocated to continue to better determine adequate shelf space for collections.


This started with a workplan team, who did the initial measuring and charted the results. Then the project was turned over to the Collection Development Department. What we realized was that the initial project was done using the system average of 1/3 of the collection circulating at any given time. We have the ability to gather information at a very specific level that would make these allocations more exact – for example – Branch A has 60% of their fiction on the shelf, 50% of their picture books. Branch B has 75% of their fiction, 65% of their picture books. We determined that branches would update the measurement piece of it every 6 months, to reflect any collection moves. We will be able to chart how close branches are to “ideal” and determine if they are getting better or worse with collection allocations.


We are preparing to take the 2nd measurement in May. This one will be the most detailed yet, looking at circulation percentages of each branch based on collection. (Previously we had gone from “system average” to “branch average.” Now we will be at “branch collection average.”) We are hoping to see branches lessening their shelving area for non-fiction, which were nearly all allocated at too high of a rate, and growing other collections like audiobooks and general fiction. We are planning more visits to help branches along with this.