The impact of book suggestions/recommendations?

Whilst finalising my presentation for the 2009 UKSG Conference in Torquay, I thought it would be interested to dig into the circulation data to see if there was any indication that our book recommendation/suggestion services (i.e. “people who borrowed this, also borrowed…” and “we think you might be interested in…”) have had any impact on borrowing.
Here’s a graph showing the range of stock that’s being borrowed each calendar year since 2000…
Just to be clear — the graph isn’t showing the total number of items borrowed, it’s the range of unique titles (in Horizon speak, bib numbers) that have been borrowed. If you speak SQL, then we’re talking about a “count(distinct(bib#))” type query. What I don’t have to hand is the total number of titles in stock for each year, but I’d hazard a guess that it’s been fairly constant.
You can see that from 2000 to 2005, borrowing seems to have been limited to a range of around 65,000 titles (probably driven primarily by reading lists). At the end of 2005, we introduced the “people who borrowed this, also borrowed…” suggestions and then, in early 2006, we added personalised “we think you might be interested in…” suggestions for users who’ve logged into the OPAC.
Hand on heart, I wouldn’t say that the suggestions/recommendations are wholly responsible for the sudden and continuing increase in the range of stock being borrowed, but they certainly seem to be having an impact.
Hand-in-hand with that increase, we’ve also seen a decrease in the number of times books are getting renewed (even though we’ve made renewing much easier than before, via self-issue, telephone renewals, and pre-overdue reminders). Rather than hanging onto a book and repeatedly renewing it, our students seem to be exploring our stock more widely and seeking out other titles to borrow.
So, whilst I don’t think there’s a quick any easy way of finding out what the true impact has been, I’m certainly sat here with a grin like a Cheshire cat!

Moving and Shaking

Congratulations to all the other Movers & Shakers!
Although I found out a couple of months ago that I’d made the list, I’m still really bemused by it all. Partly because it came out of the blue, but mostly because I can easily think of a dozen people who are infinitely more deserving. However, I’ll gladly try and grab my 5 minutes of fame ๐Ÿ™‚
At the risk of doing a “Kate Winslet“, there are lots of people I’d like to thank for getting me to where I am today! Back in 2005, John Blyberg‘s innovative work at Ann Arbor gave me the confidence to start fiddling with our own OPAC. Fortunately, Dynix’s developers had created an OPAC that was fairly simple to tweak and an ILS that was easy to query, so it wasn’t an uphill struggle. (I can’t stress just how important it is that ILS vendors give their customers flexible and extensible products)
Since then, a plethora of people have continued to inspire me (in no particular order and far from complete) — Jenny Levine, Casey Durfee, Tim Spalding, Tony Hirst, Jonathan Rochkind, Helene Blowers, Casey Bisson, Kathryn Greenhill, Michael Stephens, Brian Kelly, Brendan Dawes, Richard Wallis, Phil Bradley, Stephen Abram… and, oh God, who’s the other one?!? ๐Ÿ˜‰
A big “hi” to everyone who puts up with my inane waffling in the LSW chat room — you guys and girls rock! ๐Ÿ™‚
An especially big “thank you” to my long suffering friends and colleagues at the University of Huddersfield. I’m extremely fortunate to work in a library that both innovates and inspires innovation. (Did you know Huddersfield had one of the first facetted PACs back in the 1990s? It might not be as well known as NCSUs OPAC, but Dr. Steve Pollitt‘s pioneering HIBROWSE system laid the groundwork for Endeca.)
Finally, another big “thank you” to Iman Moradi and Bryony Ramsden.
Iman’s probably the closest thing we’ve got to a “Superpatronโ€ at Huddersfield and his boundless energy and support for the library never fails to amaze me. This year, he’s got his students playing with library data and creating visualisations — how cool is that?!
Bryony, my partner of 14 years, never seems to mind the endless hours I spend on the PC at home — for that, and many other reasons, I’m eternally grateful to her!
So, to all the unsung Movers & Shakers out there in libraries throughout the world, karma++ ๐Ÿ™‚

Mash Oop North

Coming this summer…
We’re hoping to fix the date soon, but it’s likely to be on or around Tuesday July 7th at the University of Huddersfield.
If it is July 7th, then we’d be able to celebrate:

…that both events occurred on July 7th is not a coincidence ๐Ÿ˜‰
(mashed potato courtesy of jslander)