Why is collection analysis essential in libraries?
Collection analysis and evaluation are crucial in any library and information center because this determines the actions or improvements to be made in the future. This process determines if the collection represents and goes in line with the library’s goals and objectives through a set of standards. It helps let the personnel understand the nature of the collection. Therefore, the procedures must be done regularly in a systematic and meticulous manner to constantly advance.
Collection-based techniques provide information that will serve as a basis for decisions when it comes to selecting, preserving, withdrawals, etc. through examining the size, growth, variety, etc. of the current collection. Use-study techniques center on materials by examining individual or group titles and subject areas while user-study techniques center on the individuals or groups using the collection and how they approach the collection.
Quantitative techniques measure transactions, interlibrary loan requests, funds spent, etc. as well as compare measurements within the library, consider ratios, and demonstrate the growth of collections using statistics and such. Qualitative techniques are primarily used to identify the collection’s strengths and weaknesses through the data gathered on perception, opinion, etc.
Types of Use-based and User-based Analysis
- Circulation studies — examines the circulation transactions and statistics to identify which parts of the collection are barely used and to compare use patterns in specific material types or subject areas. However, this method only considers user success in locating and borrowing items and excludes in-house use and electronic resources.
- In-house Use Studies — used to match up the type of user with the material being used and focuses on the entire collection. This may be conducted in tandem with a circulation study to provide more complete information.
- User Surveys and Focus Groups — non-objective methods to gather user data. User surveys are best used to improve the library’s relations with its clientele by determining how well the collection meets the community’s needs. Conducting focus groups are used to have discussions with a small group of representatives.
- Interlibrary Loan Analysis — indicates what the library lacks by identifying which materials had to be borrowed from external organizations. This is limited to those who use ILLs instead of other sources they use for their needs.
- Document Delivery Test — determines if the collection can satisfy user’s needs through objective measurements and how efficient a library is in providing users with what they need
A lot of the methods mentioned on the traditional side are not applicable to electronic resources as most of the processes involved are only suitable for physically accessible materials. Use-statistics is the ideal method to use as it determines basic information requirements that electronic resources should have.
What type of analysis will you use in your library?
Assuming I start my library as a small-scale organization, I would prioritize the needs of the users, and so I would opt to integrate a collection-based and user-based analysis. I feel that as a small start-up library, I must prioritize catering to the needs of the community to serve and to grow as an organization. This will also give me the chance to start building a good relationship with patrons.