Thursday, 16 October 2014

Library Statistics: Part 3

This post concludes the presentation of a comparison of the aggregated SA Public Library Network statistics against a set of ALIA targets.  It is important that the background to these statistics, and cautions to their use which I wrote about in the 1st post are read in the context of this information.

This graph demonstrates that on aggregate SA libraries have larger collections than the ALIA targets, even though we spend less on collections than the ALIA targets - see Statistics post 2 S6 graph.

This would tend to indicate that we hand onto our items longer than average, thereby building larger collections.  This is borne out by the graph S.8 below.

This is neither a good or bad thing in itself, as customer satisfaction and collection effectiveness depends more on the quality of the collection than its size.

As mentioned above, SAPLN's collections are much older than the ALIA targets.  We could lower the average age of our relatively large collections, by throwing lots of stuff out.  But is this the answer? Perhaps not, because as the graph below (S.9) indicates, SAPLN achieves loans per capita above the baseline target and is almost equal tot he enhanced target.  And when this is compared to other jurisdictions (pages 9 & 10 here) SA has the highest average loans per capital.

Obviously, where collects are relatively large, even with high loan stats our turnover rates are bound to be low.  this is where the "art" v's the "science" of collection management comes in.  If the turnover rates for adult fiction or DVDs were this low then I would be concerned.  But if libraries are building collections of valuable but rarely borrowed items such as local history collections then having a lower turnover rate is reasonable.

So this figure is a little contentious, as it depends on the collection development policy that a library is using to meet it's customers' needs.  However it is something that we need to look more closely at to determine whether this figure is reasonable & based on deliberate strategy or poor collection management.

This is one of these graphs where the numbers are inverse & don't make a lot of sense.  so here is the decoding. The ALIA baseline target is 1 computer per 3,000 residents, with the enhanced target set at 1 computer per 2,000 residents.  SAPLN's average is 1 computer per 1,764 residents.

The SAPLN figure needs to be used with caution as all of out libraries have Internet access computers even if the smaller ones are serving very small populations.  So this number is skewed.

This post brings to an end the direct reporting of SAPLN statistics compared to the ALIA targets, but it won't be the end of me talking about statistics.  My next post will deal with the statistics which all SA libraries are currently adding to our stats collection software Bibliostat & how I would like to use these in the future.

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