Case Study – Adding Life to Collections With collectionHQ and ESP



Evidence-based Selection Planning (ESP) offers a decision support system to
help libraries select current and pre-published titles in the right quantities to
the right locations.

Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System, GA is a 34 branch system serving
a population of more than 1,000,000. Shortly after he was appointed as
Executive Director at the library, Dr Gabriel Morley made the decision to
introduce Evidence-based Selection Planning (ESP) to support more informed
selection decisions.


Introduction of the collectionHQ Dashboard in 2014 offered new insight into the library’s
collection that shocked Gabriel and the team. Gabriel explained: “We had been looking at our circulation statistics over a long period of time in order to better understand the needs of our patrons. What we found was disturbing. Almost 53% of our collection was Dead on Arrival, which meant it rarely circulated.” Dead on Arrival (DOA) is a metric that reveals new items added to a library’s collection within the last 6-18 months that have either never circulated or had been checked out only once. This revelation therefore prompted the team to take action.


ESP was identified as the solution that would help to improve circulation and reduce DOA at Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System. By analyzing key data points about each title, ESP predicts how current and forthcoming titles will perform in the future. Based on this prediction, ESP then suggests how many of each title to purchase and where to distribute items according to local demand. Gabriel said: “We had to make some
changes immediately. We were already using collectionHQ so when the opportunity came along to take advantage of prescriptive ordering based on our historical circulation
data, we did it.”


On introducing ESP, Gabriel and the team established two main goals that they wished to achieve with the tool:

  1. To develop a healthy collection that is responsive to patron-driven usage and
    demand— driving up the turnover rate and driving down the number of items that
    never circulate.
  2. To enable librarians to spend more time managing the collection in a meaningful
    way. Brazos Price, Technical Services Administrator at Atlanta-Fulton Public
    Library, commented: “Our goal is to spend 80% of our selection time on connecting
    our patrons with new reads that they may like. We use ESP to reduce the time spent
    on buying the right amount of books that they know and love.”


Reduced DOA- Within the first 5 months of using ESP to purchase new material, Gabriel noticed a steady decline in DOA figures month after month. He shared: “We feel (and
the data shows) that we are getting more of the right new material that our communities
want and need.”ESP_Infographic

Higher Turnover- Turnover has also increased from 1.44 in April 2017 to 1.7 in April of 2018, a sign that the library’s collection is becoming more representative of
patron demand.

Better Use of Staff Time– Introducing ESP allows staff to allocate more time to patron focused activities. Gabriel shared: “By making selections based on our historical circulation data, among other things, ESP frees up time for librarians to focus on marketing the collection, doing reader’s advisory, and working hands-on with
the actual materials in order to make the collection more responsive to user
needs and demands.”


Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System is currently undergoing a $275 million capital improvement program which has introduced eight new libraries and made substantial renovations to two others. Phase 2 of the program will begin renovations to 24 branches in the system. Gabriel described: “Our plan is to utilize ESP to help reinvigorate the collections at the renovated branches. We don’t have funding to replace entire
collections so we want to infuse those existing collections with new materials that have been specifically identified by ESP as being relevant and in-demand.”


  • Improve turnover
  • Increase circulation
  • Discover new titles
  • Meet patron demand


Want to learn more? Visit collectionHQ’s ESP website at






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