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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Final project

Meridith and I are working with the Central branch of the Madison Public Library.

1. The guiding questions: Where are the items on the hold shelves going and what genre are they? Ideally this information could help inform the collection development of a particular branch. For example, if a lot of mystery novels were placed on hold and picked up at the Monroe St. Branch, perhaps that could indicate the need for more books of that type at that location.

2. Findings audience: The audience for this project is primarily the Central branch right now, but the data we gather can also be used by the other branches of MPL in their collection development.

3. Examples of data: We will soon be getting a list of addresses (including zip code) and the census block of the patrons who have items on the hold shelves of each branch during a 'snapshot' in the morning. There a some librarians in MPL who are helping us in taking this data and forming it into a workable spreadsheet.

4. Examples of maps to find, ideally: We need maps of Dane County - Madison area in particular - that include census, streets, and a breakdown of the area by zip code.

5. Map manipulations to try: We have been talking with Central about making maps that are broken down by genre in percentages of area. If Ashburn had 30% of its hold shelves filled with graphic novels and Central only had 8%, Ashburn would have a darker/denser shade. This kind of map manipulation means that we would have a number of different maps, one for nearly each genre, excluding nonfiction which we have decided to place into one field. This breakdown would make the maps simpler and easier to understand.

We have connected with Central and have much of the data in a spreadsheet form which we should be able to import into ArcMap, but who knows. One of our concerns is whetther or not all the data will be able to place nicely together.

The two librarians we are working with at MPL were very excited at the prospect of using GIS to interpret data. They both said they were, and I quote here, "jealous" that we were getting to learn this stuff, and that they wished this type of class had been around when they were in library school. Just another indication that GIS will likely be finding its way into more and more libraries.


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