de Bibliotheek Gouda

Make connections between data, collections, and programming

Customers at Public Library of Gouda

“We use the data in Wise to analyze the behavior of our library users, which forms the basis for all of our decisions. For instance, when a particular genre is very popular, we use that information and do something with it. With Wise, we rely on facts, not assumptions."

Erna Staal
Director, Public Library of Gouda



When the Public Library of Gouda faced large budget cuts, the staff took the opportunity to transform its locations and services, leading it to become a central cultural hub for the city and one of the best public libraries in the Netherlands. The main branch now resides in a former chocolate factory, Chocoladefabriek, in the center of Gouda, a space the library shares with a printing workshop, the city archives, and an eatery. Four children’s libraries and two additional service points reach areas of Gouda farther from the city center.

This arrangement allows the library to better serve the needs of the Gouda community. As Erna Staal, the library’s Director, explained, “To me, a library is a very local institution. You can learn from each other’s use of systems and the way we provide information, but the real content varies per locality.” And Wise® has also played an important role in understanding and meeting local needs. “Before, the collection and the library programs seemed like two separate worlds,” she said. “But the data from Wise really contributes to how we connect these two nowadays.”

“Data, data, and more data. We love it.”

Erna continued, “When Wise’s reports indicate that a certain genre is very popular, it speaks for itself that we use that information to our benefit.” They do this in part by targeting email communications to library users who are most likely to be interested in particular topics. “The Wise marketing tool makes it much easier to send … several newsletters with targeted information for our sponsors, for regular library users, for youth,” she said. “Wise allows us to create very specific target groups.” And it does so without compromising the users’ privacy or security. “We do our best to align programs to the interests of the Gouda community,” she added.

The main branch of the library in the Chocoladefabriek now stays open 7 days a week for 12 hours each day. And Wise’s self-service capabilities make it possible to keep the library open when staff members aren’t present. “The number of loans has risen, because the library has better availability for the users,” Erna said. “Without a library system like Wise, it would definitely take the library much longer to achieve the same result.”

Services used by Public Library of Gouda

Wise (in Dutch)

Metadata services via the agreement between OCLC and the KB National Library of the Netherlands

Resource sharing via the agreement between OCLC and the KB National Library of the Netherlands

Map showing location of the Public Library of Gouda

Library at a glance

  • Elected as Best Library of the Netherlands 2015/2016
  • Supports a network of four children’s libraries, two service points, the Digital Library, and the City Library, which is based in the Chocoladefabriek in the city’s center
  • Attracts more than 500,000 visitors a year, more than 60% of whom are young people

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