I perform regular data analysis in Excel–running circ reports, analyzing trends, and compiling data. I love Excel, but still, it’s not quite enough for me, so I’m learning R and SQL through self study. I have a goal of learning to make data visualizations and performing complicated actions like regression analysis; I often think a certificate program in data science may be in my future!
My most impactful data project to date is starting OPL on a system of collection assessment using turnover. We define turnover, for our purposes, as the number of circs in a section over a period of time divided by the number of items. This shows a rate of use, which indicates whether books in each section are overperforming or underperforming. I built our first turnover reports by hand in Excel, and was able to give each children’s librarian an estimate of how in-demand their books were. The following year, we added adult and teen collections and developed a more streamlined process for producing the reports. As of this writing, we have four years worth of data on circs, number of items, and turnover rate for each call number range, arranged in side by side graphs on a custom report for each branch. I train children’s librarians to use their trended turnover figures as guidance in weeding and selection.
I have also assessed qualitative data from survey responses. Following a series of staff focus groups, each with a different department, my team was left with a massive amount of comments and feedback on collection development at OPL. Some were related to each other, some were not. Could we draw connections across departments and find common problems? If so, could we also find common solutions? I categorized responses and pulled quantitative data based on those categories, which helped us see the “hot spots” in responses, topics with the most interest across departments. I wrote detailed notes while working on analyzing the data, which I did in Excel. I then prepared a report for administration on findings from the data, and suggested next steps.