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Collection Evaluation

Abstract

The following work will identify and describe the Tennessee Collection with the Art Circle Public Library in Crossville, Tennessee. This collection was originally developed to showcase Tennessee history, authors, and fiction set in Tennessee; however, its current usefulness is in question and will be examined in terms of usage, its place in the success of the library, and other facilities that offer similar services.

3.1 Identify a specific service(s), program(s), collection(s), facilities, and/or other activities to assess/evaluate in your PL.

This section will evaluate the Tennessee Collection at the Art Circle Public Library in Crossville, Tennessee. This collection has been housed separately from the rest of the adult collection since the current facility was opened (Margo Brown, personal communication, February 26, 2015). It gets little use and is not well publicized; this work will analyze its overall usefulness and determine whether or not the Tennessee Collection should be dissolved and its materials reintegrated into the main collection, freeing up the three ranges that it occupies for expansion of the non-fiction collection.

3.2 Describe the selected PL service. Analyze the selected PL service in relation to user-centered issues (who and how many users use the service, how often is the service used, strengths/weaknesses of the PL service, etc.).

According to the shelving staff and circulation reports obtained from Deputy Director James Houston, the Tennessee Collection contains the least circulated books in the adult section. Out of 234 fiction titles, only 11 had circulated within the last 30 days, and out of 733 non-fiction titles, only 35. The non-fiction collection, for reference, houses 17819 titles, of which 1949 had seen use, and the fiction collection contains 10501, of which 2292 had seen use. The ratio of use for the Tennessee collection, circulated items to non-circulated items, is about 1:21 for both fiction and non-fiction. The general adult non-fiction is approximately 1:9, with the fiction approximately 1:4.6. The Tennessee collection is nowhere near as used as the rest of the adult material, and the Reference Librarian believes this is at least in part because the collection is separated and thus the materials are not being seen by many patrons who simply come to browse (Margo Brown, personal communication, February 26, 2015). The fiction, especially, is separated: the Tennessee collection is housed on the opposite side of the floor from the main fiction (Margo Brown, personal communication, February 26, 2015).

The people who use this collection are primarily people who are seeking to learn about Tennessee or looking for fiction that happens to be set in Tennessee or written by an author from Tennessee. It is not a widely used service, nor is it widely publicized. It is included on floor maps of the building and in the building signage, but there is no explanation or other information regarding it posted in the building (James Houston, personal communication, February 26, 2015). The call numbers for the items include the preface TN to indicate their location, but unless a patron knows or is willing to ask, they will have difficulty finding the books (Margo Brown, personal communication, February 26, 2015).

3.3 Discuss the relative importance of this PL service. How much difference does it make in the success of your PL organization or in the quality of life in the community served by the agency?

As noted in section 3.2, this is not a highly used collection. As such, it does not make much difference to the success of the organization or to the quality of life for the community. The collection was created in order to showcase local history and talent, but the lack of promotion and the general location of the collection make this goal difficult (Margo Brown, personal communication, February 26, 2015). All adult books are housed on the second floor, with fiction on one side and non-fiction on the other; the Tennessee collection is housed behind non-fiction, where fiction browsers will not see it at all and non-fiction browsers are only likely to encounter it if they are curious about what is in the final three ranges that are separated from the main collection by a set of work tables (Margo Brown, personal communication, February 26, 2015).

3.4 Define the selected PL service you are assessing/evaluating by listing keywords that are associated with it. Which word(s) would you use in searching for information about this service? Tag the most productive subject term.

The most prominent keyword associated with this collection is, perhaps obviously, "Tennessee." Others include "local history," "Tennessee history," "local author," and "Tennessee author." In searching for this service itself, a patron would need to ask about it; there is no material regarding the Tennessee collection currently on display at the library or on the library's website (Art Circle Public Library 2, 2015). This lack of publicity is part of the circulation problem, but short of laying out material regarding the collection in the already crowded pamphlet displays at adult services desk and circulation desk, there is little way to publicize it within the library. The problem is compounded by the presence of the Cumberland County Archives and Family Heritage Center (CCAFHC), which houses considerably more local history than the Tennessee Collection and all of the resources on local genealogy that once were housed at the library (Art Circle Public Library, 2014). With an archive in place, there is even less reason to continue the Tennessee Collection as a separate entity within the ACPL (Margo Brown, personal communication, February 26, 2015).

3.5 What are the existing ways that the PL provides information about the selected PL service? (in the physical library environment and on the web). Is there effective advertising/marketing of the PL service? Rank the ways that users find information about the selected PL service?

There is not effective advertising for this collection. As noted in section 3.4, it is not publicized on the web or in any material that is routinely handed out to new patrons of the library (James Houston, personal communication, February 26, 2015). Effective advertising of the collection might increase usage to some degree, though the collection has been in existence since the opening of the current facility in 2010 and the initial advertising period has long passed. Users find out about this service when they locate an item in the card catalog that they wish to borrow and need to know the location, or when they are in a tour of the library (James Houston, personal communication, February 26, 2015). Tours are most common with classes of school-aged children, rather than adults or families (Patty Dalton, personal communication, February 26, 2015. Neither of these is particularly effective at reaching the general public.

3.6 Discuss the interest users of the PL or other members of the community might have in this PL service. How much actual and potential demand exists for it? What events or sources are likely to stimulate interest in this PL service? What is the likely life of this interest?

The potential demand for these materials is standard; people are interested in local history and people are interested in fiction by Tennessee authors or set in Tennessee. The difficulty of this collection is that it is separated and not publicized (James Houston, personal communication, February 26, 2015). Patrons do not expect a handful of fiction titles to be separated from the bulk of the collection and set in a different place, and thus do not think to look in the Tennessee Collection for new materials. This collection should be dismantled and re-integrated into the main collection to increase findability, circulation, and to allow space for the non-fiction to expand. The interest for local history would still be satisfied between the ACPL and the CCAFHC, and the interest in fiction would be easier to find with the rest of the fiction and still easily located via the card catalog should a patron have a specific interest in Tennessee authors or settings (Margo Brown, personal communication, February 26, 2015).

Local author signings have some potential to increase circulation of the collection as it stands, although the ACPL has a very spotty history with attendance at author events, no matter how well publicized (James Houston, personal communication, February 26, 2015). Reintegrating this collection, however, would open up shelf space for the non-fiction collection. This would make the shelves more easily browsable, as staff could remove materials from the hardest to reach top and bottom shelves until such time as the collection expansion required their use (Margo Brown, personal communication, February 26, 2015).

3.7 Identify, evaluate, and come to a conclusion on alternative resources/agencies that provide such services. Where might potential users go for this service IF your PL did not exist and did not provide this service? To what degree do alternative sources minimize the need for such a service? Using appropriate alternative resources (both offline and online), indicate the degree to which affordable, useful, and recent resources provide similar services.

As mentioned in 3.6 and 3.4, the primary alternate resource for the Tennessee Collection is the Cumberland County Archives and Family Heritage Center. This facility's primary purpose is local history and genealogy (Art Circle Public Library, 2014). It houses many of the same volumes as the ACPL, as well as additional materials and records that the ACPL does not house. When this facility came into being (James Houston, personal communication, February 26, 2015), the need for the Tennessee Collection dropped considerably, and at this point the collection is no longer needed as a separate entity. The CCAFHC is located across the street from the ACPL, and is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays (Art Circle Public Library, 2014).

As the ACPL is the only public library in the county, there is not another source for borrowing fiction specifically relating to Tennessee ((Breeding, 2014). However, dismantling this collection would not remove the materials from the library, merely move them into the general fiction collection.

3.8 Reviewing the variables mentioned above, does it seem reasonable to gather user-centered feedback to assess/evaluate the selected PL service? Provide a strong justification statement.

In the opinion of the Adult Services Librarian, it is not reasonable to gather user-centered feedback regarding this collection (Margo Brown, personal communication, February 26, 2015). The need is satisfied by a facility that is dedicated to that purpose and has more material on the subject and staff dedicated to the subject, the collection is sparsely used and not well advertised, and the space could be better put to the library's main purpose of life-long learning with expansion of the primary non-fiction collection (Cumberland County Library Board of Trustees, 2014). This collection, while it does support that mission, is not the most efficient implementation. However, as staff can be incorrect, user-centered feedback regarding the Tennessee Collection will still be gathered and shown in section 5.

References

Art Circle Public Library. (2014). Cumberland County Archives and Heritage Center. Retrieved from http://artcirclelibrary.info/Archives/CCAHC.htm
Art Circle Public Library. (2015). Art Circle Public Library. Retrieved from http://artcirclelibrary.info/
Breeding, M. (2014, December 13). Art Circle Public Library. Retrieved from http://librarytechnology.org/libraries/library.pl?id=6072
Cumberland County Library Board of Trustees. (2014, November). Vision/Mission. Retrieved from http://artcirclelibrary.info/Information/vision_mission.htm

Spring 2015

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