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Efficient solutions for time-consuming jobs in the library: new technology can be the answer to creating efficiency for libraries.

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Two of the most time-consuming jobs in the library are taking inventory and keeping track of in-house uses of library material. Librarians have long been searching for more efficient solutions for these two activities. New technology can be the answer to creating efficiency for libraries. In fact, if you are a SirsiDynix library, there is an easy solution--the PocketCirc. A PocketCirc is a handheld device run through a PDA (not currently available through smartphones).

Canadian University College (CUC), a small private university in Alberta, Canada, has a small staff and has to be proactive in finding ways to streamline library projects. As a technical services/systems librarian at CUC, part of my job is to provide information on emerging technologies that will help us meet this goal. As a result, I came across the PocketCirc that SirsiDynix offers. SirsiDynix states that the PocketCirc provides "Easy online or offline access to key circulation and inventory functions. Support for various Windows Mobile and Windows CE-supported devices. Freedom to roam, so staff can get out from behind the circulation desk and into the stacks to help users, conduct daily circ procedures or large inventory projects." The PocketCirc lives up to its advertising; however, the human element needs to be added to the equation.

CUC Tackles In-House Usage

CUC is part of a consortium called NEOS libraries. (Historically, NEOS has stood for Networking Edmonton's Online Systems, but in 1995 it was changed to just NEOS). NEOS is a 17 library consortium that includes central and northern Alberta libraries.

CUC was the first library in the NEOS consortium to purchase a PocketCirc. CUC library's first use of the PocketCirc was to conduct in-house daily usage statistics during the 2010-2011 school year. The purpose of conducting in-house use for the library was to discover what areas of the library were being used by the element of the student population that did not check out library materials. This would enable the library to track what materials were in use by the students within the library. The CUC library found that the PocketCirc provided a solution to the problem.

Each day the shelver was to take the PocketCirc and scan in all books that were out on the shelving, tables, and carrels. As the year progressed, however, it became evident that the shelver was not scanning every area of the library on every day. This caused the statistics to be higher in some areas of the library than in other areas. In addition, because the shelver was not shelving all of the books as they were scanned, it was difficult to keep track of which books were scanned and which were not. This resulted in statistics that were inaccurate and unreliable. Reassessing the problem led the library to two conclusions. First, the tasks needed to be organized in a way that made it easier to keep track of which areas had been scanned. Second, it became evident that it was important to hire and carefully train the right individual to do the shelving.

Although the statistics were not completely accurate, it became apparent that the statistics could still provide useful information. These statistics could provide the library with important information about how the collection was being used. For the October 2010-April 2011 school year, 2,497 items in CUC's collection were scanned (see Figure 1). The most used collection was the curriculum collection, with a total of 1,522 curriculum-collection items scanned. This number tells us that our education students are using this collection a fair amount in the library. We could tell this by the amount of books that always needed to be reshelved, but now with the use of Directors Station, which is another SirsiDynix product we adopted, we can know exactly which items in the collection patrons are using in the library. Directors Station is a powerful tool that, according to SirsiDynix's website, provides your library with the means to "make informed, data-driven decisions by providing a unique customized view of your institution's activities and operations." (See Figures 2, 3, and 4.)

The next most used collection in our library is the books in the main stacks. Atotal of 781 books were used in-house last school year. With Directors Station we can go one step further and figure out which Library of Congress (LC) classification is used the most (see Figure 5). Directors Station allows you to break down an LC classification into more specific classes (see Figure 6). With the in-house use statistics, we can also note that our print reference collection is still in use by our students. Students are not allowed to check out reference material, so the only way we have to know if students are using these materials is through the inhouse use statistics. A total number of 193 reference materials were used.

During the second semester one other NEOS library, Lakeland College Library, purchased a PocketCirc. Installation was easier for it since CUC library had already figured out some of the quirks. Lakeland College purchased two PocketCircs in order to complete inventory on its two campuses. I teamed up with Lakeland project manager Laura Somerville to make a presentation at our consortium's mini-conference this past June on the PocketCirc and how we were using it in our respective libraries. After seeing statistics on the progress of Lakeland's inventory, a decision was made for the CUC library to complete an inventory of its own this past summer. Prior to the purchase of the PocketCirc, Lakeland College had conducted a complete inventory only once. That inventory was done with the use of a laptop computer and a really long network cable. CUC had never completed a full inventory up until this time. Lakeland College provided a benchmark in the inventory process.

Training of our workers began at the end of May 2011 in order to begin the inventory process. The first area chosen to conduct an inventory was the media collection, which consists of DVDs and videos. It took our student workers 14 days to inventory 2,746 items. From the media section the student workers moved on to the reference section. In order to speed up our process to match that of our benchmark library, Lakeland College, I spent some time scanning books for inventory. The reference section consisted of 1,383 items. On June 9, I was able to scan in 1,324 items for inventory, which was the majority of the collection. Once the reference collection was completed, we moved on to the onshelf collection, which is the main portion of our overall holdings.

Directors Station states that we have a total of 68,888 monographs in our onshelf collection. Of that 68,888, we were able to account for 29,654 in the month of June in our inventory process. Three of those days we were able to average about 5,300 monographs. Without the PocketCirc, this rate of speed would not have been achievable.

CUC Refines Its Inventory Skills

One major change in the way we inventoried was that we were able to keep the scanner on constantly, which meant we no longer had to press a button for each scan. (This change was suggested by Laura Somerville at our conference presentation in June.) We also kept the sound on so that we could pick up on the different sounds it made if an item was found in the system or if it wasn't. To date we have also scanned 2,978 items in our curriculum collection.

At this point, this has been a 6-week inventory process. Unfortunately, we were unable to complete the inventory this summer due to unforeseen circumstances--heavy rainfall caused flooding in the basement level of the library, causing a halt in the inventory process.

We are not yet fully moved back into the basement of the library. Our first task, once we have all of our collection back in-house, will be to complete inventorying. (See Figure 7 to see how much we have completed thus far.) We still have 39,234 in the on-shelf collection, 8, 858 in the curriculum collection, and 2,484 copies in the heritage collection left to inventory.

I believe that the process of doing inventory will be much smoother once we begin again. As with the in-house use project, we have learned more efficient ways of using the PocketCirc. This will speed up our progress even more.

Conclusion

By sharing the CUC library experience of using the PocketCirc, I hope that you find your interest piqued and that you do further research into the benefits of using a PocketCirc for your own library to aid you with your library processes. I am sure each of you can find other uses for the PocketCirc in your library, and I hope I have illustrated how technology and the right personnel can enhance the processes in the library.

Kieren Bailey (kbailey@cauc.ca) graduated from the University of Western Ontario with her M.L.I.S. in 2009. For the past 2 years, she has been working as the assistant librarian in charge of technical services and systems at Canadian University College in Lacombe, Alberta, Canada. Her main interest lies in emerging technology.
Figure 1

Number of items scanned
for In House Use

              Oct-Dec 2010   Jan-Mar 2011   April, 2011

CURRICULUM        870            437            64
MEDIA              1             274            74
ON_SHELF          329             74            55
REFERENCE          64

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Figure 2

  In         Title
House
 Use

8            DRAGONFLY KITES
8            EXPLORE GODS CREATION
8            TIME TO SLEEP
7            TIME FUES
7            READ ALOUD PACKAGE GRADE 000003
7            BIG RED LOLLIPOP
6            BATS
6            BABY WHALES JOURNEY
6            FIREDANCERS
6            FIRST BEAVER

Figure 3

 In          Title
House
 Use

8            SCOTT THE CRITICAL HERITAGE
4            ROAD TO HELL HOW THE BIKER GANGS
             ARE CONQUERING CANADA
4            LETS STUDY PHILIPPIANS
4            PHIUPPIANS
4            PHIUPPIANS
4            PHIUPPIANS
4            BRACEBPJDGE HALL
4            DIALECTIC OF FREEDOM
4            FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE
3            DUNCAN CAMPBELL SCOTT A BOOK OF
             CRITICISM

Figure 4

In House
Use          Title

4            BIBLE N T GREEK 002008
4            QUOTABLE LEWIS
4            SEVENTH-DAY AOVENTISTS BELIEVE A
             BIBUCAL EXPOSITION OF FU
3            BIBLE N T GREEK 002006
3            PUBLICATION MANUAL OF THE
             AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATI
3            BIBLE ENGLISH NEW KING JAMES
             00199S
3            ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COUNSELING
3            CHAMBERS SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
             DICTIONARY
3            GALE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MENTAL
             HEALTH
2            MANUAL FOR MINISTERS

Figure 5

Most Used LC Classification Subjects

All locations

(B) Philosophy-P     371
(D) History (Gen     103
(H) Social Scien     136
(P) Language and     367
(Q) Science          159
(R)  Medicine          144

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Figure 6

B-LC Classification Broken Down
Top 4 areas of Use

All allocation

(B) Philosophy-Psychology-Religion                 371
(BF) Psychology, Parapsychology, Occult Science     43
(BS) The Bible                                     146
(BX) Christian Denominations                        95

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Figure 7

Amount of Items Inventoried

                May   June     July

CURRICULUM       16       10
MEDIA           701    2,066   5,236
ON_SHELF        166   29,654
REFERENCE         1    1,382

Note: Table made from bar graph.
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Title Annotation:Canadian University College
Author:Bailey, Kieren
Publication:Computers in Libraries
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Nov 1, 2011
Words:1835
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