float this

April 13, 2010

at PLA a couple of weeks ago, several of us in the Collection Development Department attended programs on floating collections.  there was a preconference session devoted entirely to the floating collection model, as well as a session presented by libraries independent of the preconference (handouts for all sessions available here).  the presenters for both programs spent much of their time focused on implementation and the success of the model as applied to their library systems.  all libraries involved did not float their entire collections.  the main impetus behind floating was a rationale familiar to us:  to reduce deliveries with the idea of getting material in the hands of the patrons quicker.  all were working to balance the distribution of materials.

as a department, we discussed both sessions and discovered that it was mostly a reinforcement of what we already know.  it’s not that we have it entirely figured out at Sno-Isle, but much research was done before implementation.  additional research was done with the CPI Weeding is Fundamental in which team members (including myself) examined best practices of collection maintenance by libraries across the country.  this research has paid off.

there were a couple of points in the session that i attended which resonated with me, especially since my start date at Sno-Isle occurred after the floating model was implemented; this is also my first experience with the floating model.

  • patrons drive the collection:  materials move to their audience
  • selectors are able to purchase fewer copies of certain titles since a set distribution to branches is not a driving force (copies float where they’re requested reducing the scenario of sitting and gathering dust)
  • with collections more of a reflection of the patrons’ reading interest, shelving space must mirror this – static shelves no longer make sense

this last point resonated with me in particular.  shelving needs to be flexible especially in a floating collection model.  if patrons read mysteries, is there enough shelf space dedicated to the genre?  it’s definitely a fine balance given that we have a fixed number of shelves in libraries that are often too small for their communities and collections.

conference sessions might not always provide content that is new, new, new, but information that provides reinforcement and/or musings can certainly be of value.

posting by marin

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One Response to “float this”

  1. Becky Buckingham Says:

    I went to the floating collecting preconference. I also was struck that we should not be reallocating the areas that are most popular. We should make more space for them by working with the areas that are not popular.
    I wished there had been more discussion on how to reallocate floating collections. Most of the participants either did not have floating collections or were just starting floating.


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