Thursday, July 22, 2004

Seeing Your Service Area with New Eyes

One of the concerns I've had about my fellow librarians over the years is that we have a hard time learning from other disciplines and applying it to our work. The last couple of posts on this blog about learning from retailing about how to present a collection are perfect examples of this.

Last month at the ALA Conference, I saw a demonstration of a product that combines the best of what we learn in libraries with the latest in mapping and GIS technology. Please note, I am not endorsing this product, but I am saying it's a way to think differently about how to use things other people have already learned to improve what we do.

Public-Library.com demonstrated a system that provides a look at a library's service area to see who (at the street and block level, not at a house-by-house level) is using its facilities. It tells where the concentrations of heaviest use are, and provides sound data to develop ideas about how to site a facility, or when it's time to look for a new location. It works with the data from an integrated library system to provide real time tracking of usage. And the output is strikingly clear maps that plainly show these data points.

This seems to me to be a good medium step for libraries that want to preserve user privacy, but also want to mine their data to look for trends in usage and areas for growth. If they could figure out a way to add in a geographic look at who is hitting your web site and other online resources, they could provide a more complete picture. Until then, this seems like it could be a useful tool.

3 comments:

ahmet can said...

Thanks Best Regards
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ruhan said...

thank you very much

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