The Collection Analysis graph will quickly show you how your collection is performing, using the Shelf Days. You can view your entire collection or use your saved filters to view smaller, targeted portions. Those Saved Filters can be quite intricate, if you wish. You could, for example, easily see how kids paperback books about pirates perform in your library, or combine a number of categories to measure a large swath of your collection all at once. Some users have created filter sets that represent physical areas of their branches, according to which of their categories are represented there. For example you can measure how categories in the front right corner of your kids section perform, and then see how that compares to those categories that live in the back left corner.
You can also, of course, just look at everything. Here’s an example of a small library branch’s adult fiction that is doing particularly well:
A slim 4.6% of their titles are “Stale/Cool,” while almost 42% are “Hot/Fresh.” Crazy!
Here’s another (slightly smaller) branch’s adult fiction Collection Analysis:
This one has a much larger percentage of Stale titles, at 29%. (That’s the blue slice of the pie) as well as a much smaller percentage of Hot (green) titles. So basically the second branch simply has more titles that have sat without circulating for longer. Both would probably be considered relatively healthy, although the first one is clearly meeting its patrons needs quite successfully.
So essentially what you’re doing with this tool is measuring the ‘health’ of your collection, a portion of it, or a specific grouping of titles, based on how/whether they’re circulating. Based on this information, you can easily create a list of titles to weed (or to raise some awareness via some more aggressive displaying) by simply printing out the list of Stale titles, edited if you wish.
This process can, at first, be daunting if it’s been a while since you’ve weeded. The one great and unavoidable truth of the book business, though, is that the books just never stop coming. It’s a good idea to make room, and to, let’s be blunt, own books that your customers want to read.
If your collection is a conversation of sorts that you have with your patrons, what they check out is just one part of their response. What they leave sitting on the shelf is the other part of the conversation, and one that is too often ignored.
Doing this analysis on a regular basis will make your collection smarter and better-informed, and more relevant for your patrons.