“Simply put, NPD will assist library managers in uncovering patterns and trends in library use, with the ultimate benefit seen as better decision-making and better service to library patrons.”--Normative Data Project Web Site
Via the Normative Data Project, or NDP, which Sirsi recently signed on to, Sirsi aims to build an extensive database of library transactions (extracted from libraries nationwide) that can be combined with GIS and demographic data to create a powerful resource that will reveal very specific trends of substantive interest to library decision makers. Ultimately, the NDP hopes to help enable these decision makers to shape their collections and distribute their branches in ways that will improve their services, i.e., better targeting of underserved patrons.
The NDP relies on data-mining principles to produce results. Armed with circulation data, bibliographic detail, and demographic and GIS spatial data for item-level entries, the NDP can make it possible to show the titles popular across the whole population; to identify titles within given demographic groups or geographic regions; and/or to determine such patterns as the levels of use, in very specific detail, relative to each library’s legal service area.
At the multi-institution level, the NDP relies on transaction data (contributed by libraries) from library automation systems. So far, more than 300 libraries have agreed to submit data from their ILS transaction logs to Sirsi for the project. The transactions fed into the project will include both bibliographic and circulation data, and Sirsi will not require— or even allow—any data that reveals any personal details.
To date, all the libraries that have contributed data use Sirsi’s Unicorn library management system, though libraries that use other automation systems will be tapped as contributors as the project progresses.
To make this project possible, Sirsi is collaborating with the GeoLib Program. Led by Christie Koonze, GeoLib is research program of the Florida Resources and Environmental Analysis Center at Florida State University.
GeoLib has been involved with studying library use trends for a decade; the program has created an extensive database that combines library statistics with GIS data and demographic information from U.S. Census Data. In return for the use of their resources in the Normative Data Sirsi from page 1 Project, Sirsi reports it will fund several activities that further the GeoLib’s research initiatives.
The technology behind the NDP is the same as that used by the Sirsi Director’s Station application. As a hosted application, the use of the technology is transparent to service subscribers, who will be able to access the system through the project’s Web site with no need to load software locally.
A commercial service based on subscription fees, the NDP’s business model will involve multiple layers of access. Some access to the NDP’s information will be available without a charge, though full access to the system will be available only to paid subscribers. Annual subscriptions are expected to be priced as low as $500 for small libraries to approximately $10,000 for the very largest libraries. Since it involves the work of other organizations and partners, the project will not be labeled conspicuously as a Sirsi venture. The initial data sets and reports gleaned from hundreds of participating North American libraries should be ready sometime during the second quarter of the 2005 calendar year.