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Data Visualization for Accurate Decision-Making

Prince George’s County Memorial Library System, Maryland

Innovation Summary

PGCMLS uses Tableau, a data visualization software, to make better customer-focused decisions and create agile implementations of new services. By making the data accessible, interactive and simple to understand, we see and think differently about it. The visualization of the date generates new questions, fresh insights and smarter business decisions.

Problem Statement

Running a library efficiently is crucial to its long-term success. That means monitoring appropriate staffing, ensuring visitors have the services and resources they want and need and overseeing the proper distribution of the collection. But it's not so easy to do when all the data is buried in Excel spreadsheets and Google documents. By visualizing the data, staff can confidently make evidence-based decisions that are not based on anecdotal beliefs or misunderstood issues.

Innovation

PGCMLS uses Tableau, a data visualization software, to make better decisions and create more agile implementation. All the data we collect (e.g.,ILS transactions, program attendance, information questions, door count, Wi-Fi and PC usage) is imported into Tableau where it is presented in an interactive and simple visual format. Staff at all levels of the organization are able to make use of it for not only making day to day decisions, but evaluating programs and services.

Progress

Organizational impacts achieved: Managers are able to staff branch service desks with the amount of staff that are actually needed to handle the demand. Selection librarian are able to drill down to most popular items in the collection and reorder as necessary to meet the demand. The floating collection is rebalanced biweekly to redistribute newer items that are not circulating to locations where more copies are needed. School test data is used to target outreach.