When You Just Can’t Find the Answer

I’ll admit I’m a stat queen. I have several slightly elaborate spreadsheets for different areas of my teen department to keep track of how I’m doing. I do deep analyses whenever I can and love seeing what information they can give back. So, you would think when tech services started to send out monthly stat reports I would be thrilled!

At first, I was (and technically still am). However, I learned there can be a downside of stats as well. They don’t always help you solve the problem. No matter how you twist them or what you do, sometimes the answer can’t be found in numbers.

Let me explain a little: the reports that they’ve been sending cover basic circulation stats, turnover rates (how many times all your books go out), how dead/active your collection is, what percentage of your collection was checked out, & what percentage of the total checkouts you have. For most of the reports, I’m satisfied where my numbers land. All except one: basic circulation for teen fiction (novels and GNs).

You see, every month my circs drop. If it were a tiny drop, I would shrug it off, but we’re talking about 150-200 each month! That’s a lot! And it’s been something that’s been happening for a while, which is why I finally decided I needed to see if I could get to the bottom of it.

As for as how active vs dead my collection is, my numbers rock: 96% has gone out in the last 2 years with only .6% that hasn’t been checked out in 3 years. I know a lot of this has to do with my hardcore weeding, but I love that almost every book has been checked out! I’m even happy with carrying 6% of the total circulations, especially considering how small my collection is comparatively.

So, books are still being checked out, but why is there still a big drop? Honestly, I wish I knew! So far, I haven’t been able to figure out a definite answer.  I’ve looked at holds queues, how many books are being sent to other libraries vs. checked out at our location, the titles of all the books being requested/put on hold in a 3 month time period, the top 100 books checked out & how many books that were bought in the last year were never checked out. I was hoping at least one would give me a hint on what was happening, but so far nothing has come back with red flags. Even the amount of books that had never gone out was super low at only 23 books. UGH.

Right now, I’m at a bit of a loss for what to do. We do have a new book section, a small display area, & genre flipbooks. And I do think maybe those things are helping the drop from being even bigger, but not helping elevate the circulation. I do have a few more ideas such as playing with putting books on browse, meaning they can’t be placed on hold for more of those serendipitous moments. And one of my supervisor’s goals is for us to step up our RA game this summer, which will hopefully help. I’m also thinking about leaving out RA Surveys that teens can turn into us & I (or another staff) can email back with a list just for them.

I know that eventually, I may have to admit defeat and realize it’s not something I’m doing/that my collection has issues. However, I’m not quite there yet. In fact, I would love new suggestions as well! If any of you have suggestions/stories on how you got your own circulations, please leave me a comment!



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