Monitoring Book Reshelving in Libraries Using Statistical Sampling and Control Charts
Library resources & technical services
L ibraries are keystone knowledge repositories for our communities, universities, and global society. To maximize the availability of library resources to patrons, the resources they contain must be organized in a logical system and maintained according to that system. Library managers attempt to use personnel in a way that provides the highest possible standard of resource maintenance at the lowest possible cost. One component of this effort involves the management of those books not shelved
... proper sequence relative to other books. As indicated by Flexner, "the ultimate usefulness of any library depends on the ability of the staff and the public to find books on the shelves with ease and assurance" (1927, 233). Thus a low number of misshelved books is advantageous for a high standard of resource maintenance and provides "ease and assurance" for patrons. We consider the term "books" to include all usual books, bound and unbound periodicals, government documents, abstracts, indexes, and similar items that are accessible to patrons. A common method of monitoring and reshelving misshelved books is called shelf reading (Lowenberg 1989) . Employees look at books in specified sections of the library and determine whether the books are in correct call number order. If a book is not in sequence, the employee is supposed to reshelve the book in proper sequence. This procedure is costly in terms of employees' working times, especially if there are few books to reshelve. Several methods have been proposed to assess misshelving rates (Cooper and Wolthausen 1977, SPRouTs). However these methods are not easy to implement and they do not focus on misshelving. Hence, an efficient method to ascertain misshelving rates would be useful to library managers in order to implement shelf-reading programs only when necessary. We propose using a statistical sampling strategy to estimate the magnitude of misshelving within the library collection. Then based on these estimates, we Maintaining library books in their proper locations is resource intensive. Typically shelf reading, where library personnel inspect every book on the shelves, is used to identify and relocate improperly shelved books. We propose a statistical approach to determine when shelf reading of books is necessary. We use sampling to obtain data on misshelved books over time. A control chart is used to assess when shelf reading is necessary. These statistical tools will provide library managers with cost-effective approaches to monitoring and implementing reshelving activities.