Client Centered Measures
The second kind of measure of collection effectiveness is client centered. These measures focus on the use of the collection. They include circulation statistics by subject area and format, interlibrary loan requests by subject, in-library use of materials, and surveys of users or potential users.
Circulation statistics. Circulation statistics can be used to determine the number of times items in a specific section of the library are being used. To better compare these statistics with other sections, the turnover rate can be used. The turnover rate is determined by dividing the the number of circulations by the number of items in the part of the collection. For example, if you have a section of your collection that contains 1000 items and these items have circulated a total of 1200 times in the previous year, the annual turnover rate is 1.2. The average item in this section circulated 1.2 times within the last year. If you have another section that contains 2000 items and these items have circulated 1500 times, the circulation rate is .75. If a section has a relatively high turnover rate, it is one indication that more items may be needed to meet demand.
Interlibrary loan requests. Another measure of the effectiveness of a library collection is the number of interlibrary loans that are being requested in specific subject areas. A large number of ILL requests from a number of different customers may be indicative of a community need that the library is not meeting. Additional materials in this subject area should be considered.
In-library measures. Typically smaller libraries do not utilize in-house use measures for evaluating collections. Larger libraries often use these measures, because in-house use is typically a more important part of their services. In-house use is measured by asking customers not to reshelf items, but instead to leave them where they can be reshelved by the staff. As the staff places the items back on the shelves, they count them, much as they would a circulation. Again heavy in-house use may lead the library to consider adding materials in a particular subject area.
Surveys. A more intrusive form of measuring customer needs and desires is surveying. User surveys are relatively easy to conduct, since they can be done quickly in the library. However, such surveys do not necessarily reflect community needs, since those who have not found the library's collection to be useful are less likely to be library users. To be meaningful, surveys need to be carefully designed and administered. If you desire to use this kind of measure of collection effectiveness, you should consult with experts to assure that your methods will provide valid results.
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