Update: September 4, 2008
It breaks my heart and embarrasses me to do this, but I’ve discovered that the circulation figures I used for the post below were flawed. Specifically, the reports I consulted treated internal processing as a checkout.
Once we recalculated our circ stats to only include transactions involving real patrons and ILL transactions, we found that our document circulation has been relatively low and flat for the last five years. No visible bump from cataloging the collection.
Is this the end of the story? I doubt it. First, we only completed the retro project this year, so a number of documents haven’t been available in the catalog for too long. Second, staff are now in a better place to identify and promote federal documents then we were last year. This may make higher circulation possible. But I don’t know. I’ll get back to you.
At the Alaska State Library, we recently completed a barcoding project which finally let us put all of our manual shelflist items into our catalog for our patrons to find. This also meant that our holdings went onto Open WorldCat for others to find.
I’m happy to report that we’ve had a 7% increase in checkouts of federal documents compared to the previous fiscal year. I’m sure the cataloging project was responsible because the rate of increase for documents checkouts outperformed other parts of the collection.
Since the project was only completed in the fiscal year that ended on June 30th, I expect to see more growth in documents checkouts in the coming year.
There are many ways to make open a tangible collection to the world. Good cataloging is a start!
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