Contributor Cindy Orr reflects on the efficiency of digital collections in her monthly blog post.
Have you noticed how efficient your digital library collection is in comparison with the print collection? Typically, a print collection goes through the following steps to be ready for a patron to choose and use:
With a digital collection, several of these steps are collapsed…and physical labor is eliminated. The staff effort expended on digital selection is similar to print if you use vendor automated tools for your print selection. If you rely on reviews in print journals and staff keying orders, digital selection is easier.
Ordering, Receiving, Cataloging, Processing, Delivery, Handling, and “Shelving” are collapsed into one almost instantaneous step if you choose to have your digital cataloging records delivered automatically. In addition, it’s almost instantaneous, unlike the painful process of getting print items in, unpacked, processed, cataloged, shipped, unpacked, shelved. Place the digital order and your selection shows up on your website within moments, all processed and “shelved” and ready for patron checkout…a wonderful feature which is a lot of fun to watch happen in real time.
There are advantages in efficiency for patrons as well. For a print item, patrons and staff go through the following steps: Patron Pickup, Patron Checkout, Patron Return, Staff Check-in, Staff Shelving Again, lots of physical labor involved, including the need for your patrons to actually travel to the library during library hours. Your digital collection is available to your patrons 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from the comfort of their own homes. The checkout and return processes are performed with no staff intervention, and the items don’t have to be reshelved. Patrons don’t have to worry about overdues, and all of a sudden their library is open to them at all times.
Given the current landscape, efficiency is on everyone’s mind. How is your library making their collections more efficient?
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