Wednesday, August 17, 2011
The Life of a Library Book: Circulation, Part 1
Circulation of library books is the part of their lives with which library patrons are most familiar. You come into the library, browse the shelves, find something that appeals to you, and check it out at the circulation desk. Or perhaps, you've ordered an item, it's arrived here at the EPL, and you've checked it out. You take your prize home, enjoy it for a while, perhaps renew for a few more weeks, and then return it. The cycle begins again with another patron.
Of course, there are parts of the story that patrons don't see and perhaps don't even know about. The details of circulating books are many, and when you take into account how many of our library items are "out there" in the community, the state, and even through the country, it is mind boggling to consider the journeys books take during their lives.
At any point in time, about 25% of our collection circulating. For an example of the EPL's circulation statistics, consider the following data for June:
Total # of items held by the library 115,316
# book check outs 15,981
# audiobooks check outs 1197
# DVDs check outs 4186
Total # item check outs 23,106
(we have other types of items circulating besides the ones listed above)
We rely on our software system to keep track of requests, due dates, loan rules, and myriad other circulation details throughout the entire consortium of IL Heartland libraries. Each library has, and sometimes specific books have, different rules that govern where and how items circulate.
If you've requested an item through our online catalog, and it's coming from another library, your item will take a multi-day journey. The next Life of a Library Book post will describe the typical journey of a book from it's home library to you.