the audiobook conundrum

September 22, 2010

excuse the rather long post, but i thought i’d share the information in this month’s Inform newsletter about adult audiobooks.  please comment if you have other ideas for promoting or making space for this collection.

Listen Up:  The Audiobook Conundrum

In 2008, a concerted effort was made to increase the number of adult titles of this popular format based on feedback from community library staff.  In Collection Development, we heard that customers couldn’t get enough audiobooks, whether browsing this collection for their commute, exercise routine, family road trip, or favorite reader.  Coupled with the phasing out of audio cassettes, this meant empty shelves in our libraries.  The increased demand led to an increased budget.  At the end of 2008, we added another vendor to the audiobook standing order:  Tantor.  Tantor specializes in high quality nonfiction titles and that has enabled us to provide more diversity to the collection which has been very heavily oriented to fiction.

In the last six months, we’ve heard from community library staff that there is too much of a good thing:  libraries don’t have the shelf space for audiobooks.  This is especially true for adult fiction audiobooks, which are often shelved separately from the print collection, as determined by staff in each library.

In July of this year, our staff ran a dusty book report for audiobooks for all audiences ( J, Teen, and Adult).  We used the parameter for last circulation date of 7/18/09 or earlier.  Of the 38,948 items in the collection, only 300 were on the dusty shelf, which is less than .01%!  The full shelves are due to the increased inventory, not lack of circulation, which is a good thing.  Since the end of 2009, the collection has increased by 2,000 pieces with an overall turn-over rate of 9.1 in 2009, very respectable.

So what’s the solution?  Try to make room.  This might seem an exercise in futility, but think about shifting or reworking the layout of your collection.  Create displays of audiobooks to increase circulation and empty those shelves.  Feature audio award winners (the Audies, the Grammy’s for Spoken Word, Booklist’s Editors’ Choice for audio, etc.), pair the book with the audio, or highlight a particular narrator.  Staff in one library shared plans to use newly freed up magazine shelving for expanding audiobook shelving.

Please continue to share any solutions for making room and moving this collection with your colleagues.  If you share your plans with us, we’ll include them in posts on the Collection Developments blog.


2 Responses to “the audiobook conundrum”

  1. KathyS Says:

    As our Reference section has diminished (replaced by more databases), our audiobook section has been taking the space over

  2. […] audiobook display anyone?  the Grammy winners will be announced February 13th.  for music nominations, head to the exhaustive list. […]

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