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Singapore library uses analytics to forecast demand

The National Library Board (NLB) used analytics to improve accuracy in forecasting patrons’ demand by 60 per cent, reducing waiting time for popular books and frequency of patrons not being able to f...

22/08/2013

Housing over eight million reference books, novels, magazines, audio visuals, and audio books and catering to more than two million registered members, NLB is challenged to find the right balance in its collection to ensure its materials stay up-to-date, relevant and engaging to patrons.

For patrons who are looking to borrow a highly popular book, the wait between reserving and receiving their book may drive them to look for alternative means to get the book such as purchasing a copy from a bookstore.

“Having a wide-ranging collection of books is just part of the equation. We have to continually identify and assemble a collection of books that has the right mix, appeal and balance to cater to the different segments of our library patrons,” said Colin Seow, the library’s Manager for Resource Management.

NLB invested in a demand-driven forecasting solution which empowers staff to make better procurement decisions through guided forecasting based on past data and statistics.

The solution analyses NLB’s loan data to generate unrestricted, rolling forecast numbers for new titles, existing titles and for unmet demands such as patrons who fail to checkout a book on their visit. Each forecast is individually calculated using statistically optimised parameters to provide up-to-date projections.

Additionally, factors that could potentially impact the demand analysis, including loans, categories of books, renewals, reservations, authors, titles and others, were identified, quantified and included in the forecasting processes.

“Through the SAS Demand-Driven Forecasting solution, we are able to analyse past patron and circulation data, and turn these data into useful insights to guide our acquisition decisions,” commented Seow. “Our librarians’ experiences combined with our expertise in analytical insights have increased our ability to make acquisition decisions with greater accuracy.”

The solution, deployed across its group of 25 public libraries and one National Library, is integrated with two other library systems – the Electronic Selection and Acquisition system and the Collection Planning systems – which manage and oversee NLB’s collection throughout the island.

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