July 17, 2006

Book Analysis Tools

I do collection development, so I'm always interested in tools that will help me evaluate what I have or don't have. One of the new tools soon to be available to academic libraries is Bowker's Book Analysis System. You must subscribe to the Books in Print database to use this tool. It will compare your library's holdings to ACRL's Resources for College Libraries (which is the update to Books for College Libraries and which will also be available in print and database formats). I've been able to look at the public library version and like what I've seen so far. Not only does it give you results by subject, but you can also view them by call number. You also have many options for limiters, such as award winners, or you can just run the analysis without limiters and take it by sujbect area. While it's Dewey for the public library product, Library of Congress call numbers will be available for the academic product.

I'm comparing this a bit to OCLC's WorldCat Collection Analysis system, which my library subscribes to, and which at times isn't as intuitive as the Bowker product appears to be (remember, I haven't seen the academic version yet). You must have holdings in WorldCat and subscribe to WorldCat. WorldCat Collection Analysis now runs comparisons against Choice Magazine's Outstanding Academic Titles, titles reviewed in Booklist , and Books for College Libraries (1988 ed.). Not sure if they'll upgrade this to the upcoming Resource for College Libraries or not.

WorldCat Collection Analysis also allows you to set up comparison groups, which could be particularly useful when doing accreditation reports for departments. I'm not sure about the Bowker product, but the unfortunate thing about WorldCat Collection Analysis is that a lot of the set up, i.e. which title list to compare to, which schools or institutions to compare to, is all done in the Administration module for WordCat as a whole. Advanced search does allow quite a bit of latitude for limiting the search, but you can't view the results by call number, just by subject heading.

Administration is also a bit awkward. It seems (as far as I can tell), that you can't get to the set-up from the module, which has proved frustrating to me. Maybe not to others. I've finally signed up for their e-mail, but I was a bit puzzled that as the point of contact for our purchase of the WorldCat Collection Analysis, I wasn't automatically put on some list to get product updates. I've found it frustrating to keep up with what they are doing; apparently enhancements are being done on a monthly basis, but unless you get the e-mail or make a habit of going into the admin module or visiting the website, you'll never know. I know it's a powerful tool - I've seen others show it. But, keeping up with it has been hard and it many ways, it's not intuitive. Still, I'm forging ahead because I think this will be an invaluable tool in analyzing my collection.

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