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Developing a Financial Book Purchasing Model for Public Libraries

Wake County, NC
Program Year: 2017
Best in Category

Over several years, Wake County Public Libraries (WCPL) faced challenges with its book collection decreasing at an alarming rate. Factors affecting size included: a 50% budget reduction related to the economic downturn ($1.4 million); higher disposal rates due to age, damage to and relevancy of the book inventory; and spending plans based on circulation statistics and individual librarian experiences. WCPL reconsidered its approach to collection planning, budgeting, and procurement, developing a comprehensive, data-driven model that ensures the best use of resources. Additionally, the model facilitates improved communication with funders and supervising departments. Libraries assembled a team of varying backgrounds to develop a book purchasing financial model that generates a recommended spending plan for the fiscal year based on: • demographics • target collection size and composition • cost inflation • book disposal rates While the model was developed as a result of the economic downturn, the benefits are helpful in any economic climate. By utilizing a business approach, the data generated facilitates greater involvement and planning of library administration, and communication with the supervising departments and funders. The County’s budget office has reviewed the process and agrees with the principals/techniques. As a result in FY 2017 WCPL’s book budget was increased to $3.8 million.

Ms. Elena M. Owens
Regional Library Manager