Posts in: March, 2018

Looking at interlibrary loan, 2017 edition

2018-03-21-LookingAtInterlibraryLoaning

Did you catch all of the 2017 end-of-year book lists? Probably the most noteworthy are The New York Times best sellers lists. Barnes and Noble publishes one, as does Publishers Weekly. Amazon publishes a most purchased books list as well, which gets a lot of attention.

As you know, we at OCLC have a different list—the books that are the most shared, as measured by interlibrary loan requests! Last year, our resource sharing systems handled more than 7 million ILL requests from all over the world.

We’ve been gathering this data for many years and publishing it here for the past two years. It’s always interesting to see what books made the top ten ILL list and what, if any, broader observations we can make. We debuted our ILL “best sellers list” for 2017 last week at the OCLC Resource Sharing Conference with the resource sharing community, who always enjoy guessing which work made the top spot.

Well, in 2017, ILL requests once again were closely aligned with current events—what was taking place in the news and popular culture.* Here are latest themes in interlibrary loan based on our data.

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On Ireland, library data, and humanities research

Brian Lavoie

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St. Patrick’s Day is nearly upon us, and our thoughts turn to Ireland and the Irish …

… and to the new OCLC Research report, An Exploration of the Irish Presence in the Published Record, in which we use library data to identify and explore materials by Irish authors, about Ireland, and/or published in Ireland. In this report, we map out the features of the Irish landscape in WorldCat, including the most popular Irish author, as measured by library holdings (Jonathan Swift); the most popular work by an Irish author (Gulliver’s Travels); and the most translated Irish author (Oscar Wilde). Did you know that Northern Ireland-born Eve Bunting is the most popular Irish author in 29 US states? Or that toddler favorite Guess How Much I Love You is the 13th most popular work by an Irish author (Sam McBratney)?

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The remarkable acceleration of shared print

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Ten years ago, on February 22, 2008, fresh from a consulting project at a very crowded Davidson College Library, I drafted a first description of a “selective withdrawal system” for libraries. Back then I envisioned “an automated decision-support tool that assists libraries in weeding their print book collections intelligently and efficiently” and also noted that “deselection must be pursued with care, to assure that future scholars will have access to the scholarly and cultural record.”

If you had told me then that within ten short years, shared print programs would encompass more than 40 million long-term monograph retention commitments, I’d have doubted your sanity. There’s no way anyone could have predicted how quickly these programs would grow.

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