Thursday, November 05, 2009

Data deluge

As every organization, institution, or business knows, eventually you have to back up your impression of success and achievement with hard numbers. "Show us the data!" cry funders, clients, and auditors. Numbers being soulless things, it can be a little wearying to crunch the statistics. Nevertheless, it must be done.

A general assessment of the OHSU Library collections is currently underway, to spot trends in purchasing, usage, interlibrary loan requests, et cetera. This task has been broken down by subject and parceled out to the library selectors. One of the nine subject areas assigned to me is, of course, history of the health sciences. Because none of the schools at OHSU have a formal history department, we aim to purchase narrowly to support the intermittent historical research of faculty and local interests, rather than collecting broadly to support a full historical curriculum.

This is a bit of a shot in the dark, as much collection development can be: prognostication (what new books will be read?) and conservatism (what old books will still be useful?) are both required. Happily, today's foray into Data Land indicates that we're doing a pretty good job of it. Recent materials are going out (195 titles circulated 381 times) and the older materials are also being used (circa 300 books published before 1970 have gone out since 2001). These numbers don't include the casual browse in the stacks, or pages photocopied from a book left on the reshelve carts. It looks like the history of the health sciences is pretty healthy.

As one actress once famously stated (almost): You like us! You really like us!

1 comment:

Kimberly Jensen said...

Indeed we do! Thank you for providing access to the resources vital to the history of medicine in Oregon and beyond and for your unparalleled support and service.