Big Spender

STRATEGIC SELECTORS (L.–r.) Erica Bartik, DVD and music buyer; Wendy Bartlett, adult fiction and ebook buyer; 
Bonnie Easton, adult nonfiction buyer; and Mary Schreiber, children’s book buyer. Not pictured, Melissa Barr, 
alternative formats buyer. Photo by Mike Bullock

Collection development starts with the budget. In Cuyahoga County, OH, that means the library’s executive team, led by Director Sari Feldman, and administrative team, led by Deputy Director Tracy Strobel, sit down and crunch the numbers. Once Wendy Bartlett, collection development manager, gets the resulting figure—some $8.5 million this year—she must divvy it up into all the various subjects, genres, and formats necessary to serve best the library system’s 28 branches and 884,035 cardholders—and maximize circulation of its materials, which reached 20,613,810 in 2012.

Getting Data Right

Among the hottest trends in collection development are tools that help libraries more efficiently crunch their numbers to make data-driven decisions. But while the tools are new, using data to make selections is not. Data-driven decisions have been on the rise in libraries for years. Anna Mickelsen, Springfield City Library, MA, explains why she uses data for collection development: “I use stats to get a look at the bigger picture of the whole library’s collection and how the different parts compare to one another. Collection decisions shouldn’t be made in a vacuum, and statistics are sometimes the only solid information I have to work with.”

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