Jenny's comment about my library adventure got me thinking. In particular, I was curious about the Innovative system used both by her library and mine. For North America, I found 538 unique instances of the service. For the arbitrarily-chosen ISBN 0738206679 ( Linked), here's what I found:
|NOT IN COLLECTION||285|
Kind of interesting 1. With a bit more work, I could break down "UNCLASSIFIED RESPONSE" further -- many of these are pages that list multiple services, which could be invidually checked. And "URL UNREACHABLE" is probably too pessimistic; I'm using a short timeout for now just to get through a feasibility test.
The general idea, which I may or may not pursue further, is to create some kind of microcontent companion in various contexts -- on the Amazon site, or at All Consuming, or in any other Web context where ISBNs are available -- so you can know what's available in your local library.
For now, here's a simple looker-upper.
1 Even if all the "CHECK SHELF" items turn out to be available, this (admittedly popular) book will exhibit an even worse failure rate than the 50%-65% mentioned in the Earth's largest library article Jenny cites:
We stock a limited selection of popular titles, but we spend the bulk of our collection budgets trying to maintain a broad collection in all subject areas, “just in case” somebody might come in and want them. As a result most library collections behave according to the well-known “80/20” rule, where a small number of very popular items account for a large percentage of the circulation, while the vast majority of the books in the collection get little or no use of any kind.
This approach to collection development hurts our patrons in two ways. First, we waste their money buying books they don’t use, just in case they might want them. And, secondly, we spend so much money buying books they don’t want, we do not have enough left over to purchase an adequate amount of the material they do want. That’s why those statistics show that the average person fails to find what they came to the library looking for anywhere from 50-65 percent of the time.
That is an awful failure rate.
Hmm. Food for thought. It's got my wheels turning...
Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2002/12/10.html#a534