Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Big Data for a Busy Library

Big Data for a Busy Library"Big Data” (i.e. very large data sets) is a hot topic lately in information technology.  With millions of items checked in and out each year across dozens of branches, your local library certainly has more than enough data to go around!

Enter collectionHQ. Last year, the King County Library System joined nearly 5,000 other libraries with its implementation of this software to assist each library branch with managing its collection.  The software is web-based (aka, “in the cloud”) so it can be easily accessed by library staff when data is updated monthly.

In addition to the common analysis one might expect, like top books and authors checked out, the software is also capable of helping the librarians understand what topics are popular in our library.  With this information, they can ensure the shelves are stocked with subjects in demand and relevant in our community.

There's probably still computers somewhere that run MS-DOS but still...The Redmond Library recently completed a weeding project to verify books that hadn’t been checked out in years were a) actually still on the shelf and b) otherwise ready to be retired.  It took nearly 6 months to analyze the Redmond branch collection and remove books that are under-utilized – called “dead” in library book parlance. 

You are 400 in line of 400 holds.Next, they will start analyzing specific topics to help ensure the books available are the ones that Redmond patrons want to check out. In addition, this data analysis tool allows staff to generate reports of “grubby” books – items that have been checked out so frequently they are probably worn out and in need of retiring. (The Hunger Games trilogy, anyone?)

Data is Cool.


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