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Collection Management

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Introduction

Collection Management The recent Audit Commission report Building better library services criticises the range of stock and effective use of stock in many public libraries. Consider and discuss ways in which public libraries can develop and improve their collections to better meet the needs of users, current or potential. Introduction Chetham library was the first public reference library in Europe and it opened in1658. Although Manchester's claim to have opened the first free public library on 2nd September 1852 was argued strongly by Warrington and Salford councils, others quickly followed suit with the Eighteenth Annual Report for 1869-70 noting that "upwards of 250" requests for information and advice had been received since 1852 from other local authorities studying the establishment of free public libraries.1 Today, in England and Wales, there are 1800 full-time public libraries, 1600 part-time libraries, 530 mobile libraries and also 17000 library facilities in institutions such as hospitals, prisons and schools and with council spending on public libraries in the region of �770 million, this equals nearly �40 per household.2 There over 14,500 ICT terminals in England and Wales for use in libraries and with audio tapes, video tapes, CD-ROM's and now DVD's available for loan, this led to 290 million visits with approximately 400 million items being loaned out during 2000/1.3 Libraries are well-established popular institutions and are used for considerably more than borrowing books. They are used as information centres, community centres, study areas and even a place to meet friends. This being said, when Mori conducted research on behalf of the Audit Commission in February 2002 the results were far from encouraging for one of Britain's oldest establishments. Mori found that more and more people are choosing to buy books instead of borrowing them from public libraries and with the end of the Net Book Agreement it is not just bookshops that have taken advantage of lower pricing. ...read more.

Middle

With library usage on the decrease they must first understand the reasons for this trend. The Audit Commission report that there are 23% fewer borrowers than 3 years ago,29 and the reasons lapsed users and non-users give for not visiting their library need to addressed if they are going to reverse this trend. Looking at the reasons for dissatisfaction amongst users, the foremost answer is a poor selection of books whereas non-users cite they are either too busy or prefer to buy books.30 The non-users would like to see more services from libraries such as cafes and more parking facilities, so if libraries address this issue it is critical to get the stock selection right before targeting new users. The research by Mori finds that users and non-users alike think the quality and quantity of the collection is a key issue in the dissatisfaction with the stock with many wanting more 'best-sellers' available. One user comments, "There are too many ghastly books on the Royal Family and minor stars" with another saying libraries were "places run by middle-aged women for middle-aged women."31 As books are the main reason people use a library, it is not just how the budget is allocated that needs reviewing, but also the weeding procedures, determining users needs, and speeding up the ordering to shelf time to disabuse people of the idea that library stock is old, out of date and not holding enough copies of popular fiction. Libraries will need to get the collection right and then market effectively to overcome people's perceptions and the continuing downward trend. Opportunities One of the biggest opportunities that can be taken advantage of is the development in technology. Instead of being a threat to traditions, computerised systems and the Internet can be turned into an opportunity. It is not just the area of taking best management practises from booksellers such as ordering, cataloguing, and paying invoices to speed up the system, but ICT can also aid libraries in planning and viewing budgets, tracking stock, tracking users needs, age of stock and a great deal more to free up the librarians time. ...read more.

Conclusion

Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, Vol. 34 (3) September 2002 21 Audit Commission, Perceptions of libraries, Desk Research Conducted for Audit Commission, February 2002 22 Audit Commission, Perceptions of libraries, Desk Research Conducted for Audit Commission, February 2002 23 BVPI satisfaction data (2000) from Audit Commission, Perceptions of libraries, Desk Research Conducted for Audit Commission, February 2002 24 Black, Alistair and Crann, Melvyn, In the public eye: A mass observation of the public library. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, Vol. 34 (3) September 2002 25 CIPFA Public Library Statistics from Audit Commission, Building better library services; Learning from Audit, Inspection and Research, Audit Commission 2002 26 CIPFA Public Library Statistics from Audit Commission, Building better library services; Learning from Audit, Inspection and Research, Audit Commission 2002 27 CIPFA Public Library Statistics from Audit Commission, Building better library services; Learning from Audit, Inspection and Research, Audit Commission 2002 28 Audit Commission Inspection Service from Audit Commission, Building better library services; Learning from Audit, Inspection and Research, Audit Commission 2002 29 CIPFA Public Library Statistics from Audit Commission, Building better library services; Learning from Audit, Inspection and Research, Audit Commission 2002 30 Audit Commission, Perceptions of libraries, Desk Research Conducted for Audit Commission, February 2002. 31 Black, Alistair and Crann, Melvyn, In the public eye: A mass observation of the public library. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, Vol. 34 (3) September 2002 32 Audit Commission, Building better library services; Learning from Audit, Inspection and Research, Audit Commission 2002 33 Audit Commission, Building better library services; Learning from Audit, Inspection and Research, Audit Commission 2002 34 Labdon, P. Acquiring adult fiction. Managing fiction in public libraries, pp. 34-37 Library Association, 1991 35 Owen, David (1995) An idealists charter for public libraries New Library World, Vol. 96 No. 3, pp. 6-15 MBC University Press 36 Audit Commission, Perceptions of libraries, Desk Research Conducted for Audit Commission, February 2002 37 Owen, David (1995) An idealists charter for public libraries New Library World, Vol. 96 No. 3, pp. 6-15 MBC University Press ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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