Digital Collection Development

Ed. Note: At an OverDrive-hosted library seminar in October in London, our friend and library partner Philip Schofield, from Kent County Council, had the opportunity to share some best practices behind digital collection development. While stock selection criteria may vary across libraries, we’re sharing his tips for how to get your digital stock in good shape and raise your annual issues for the end of the year rush.

Principles behind stock selection:

  • Recognise the importance of eBooks to the library issues. It’s not a supplementary service. Recognise this through time and budget spent.
  • Retain an increasing core of repeat borrowers.
  • Understand who your readers are and be responsive to their needs. Achieve this through analysing what is being borrowed on a regular basis.
  • Give as wide a range of readers as possible a reason to come back each week.

Kent County Council Library OverDrive

Tips to achieve these aims:

  • Order every week, on the same day.
  • Spend at least one day a week on selection.
  • If a book hasn’t been borrowed in a week, ask why, and adjust buying accordingly.
  • Select manually from a list of publishers. These can be set up as saved searches. (If you’d like help setting up a saved search for these publishers, contact your Collection Development Specialist.)
  • Buy well-reviewed books even if they are expensive.
  • Reader recommendations are vital, though the number received exceeds our capacity to buy. Make reader recommendations work for your stock selection policies and budget.
  • Try to keep the maximum holds ratio below 5:1.
  • Go through the waiting list by ratio, creator, date first reserved and price.
  • Use pinned searches (“Zombie Penguins”) to identify books with expired licenses on which there are holds.
  • Borrow selection ideas from other libraries. It never hurts to see what your peers are doing and model your own library efforts off of their great ideas! If they have spectacular curated collections or featured reading programs, there’s nothing wrong with shaping that for your own digital stock.

If you’re interested in learning more about how OverDrive can assist you in implementing some of these stock selection practices, or if you have questions, please reach out to your Collection Development Specialist! Everyone has unique tips and tricks of the trade and what works for one library might not work for another. The key is to explore all options and see what methods help to further the success of the digital stock.