University Libraries belongs to several cooperatives that provide our students, faculty and staff with enhanced access to materials beyond our local print and digital collections. The big four for Mason are:
Local – WRLC (Washington Research Library Consortium)
Statewide – VIVA (Virtual Library of Virginia)
Regional – ASERL (Association of Southeastern Research Libraries)
National – CRL (Center for Research Libraries)
A Mason reader can request an item held in the collection of any library affiliated with one of these cooperatives and its delivery will be expedited thanks to something rather akin to the “favored nation” status that exists between members of each collective.
As you might guess, thanks to ease of networked discovery and physical resource proximity, researchers at Mason borrow a fair amount of material from fellow member institutions in the WRLC. What might surprise you is that Mason is a net lender to our fellow WRLC institutions (e.g., they borrow more from us than we borrow from them) and we have a similar status with the ASERL membership as well. I view this as marker of the strength and currency of Mason’s collections…though I know the danger of basing an argument on data viewed in isolation (e.g., a contrarian might argue that the collections of others are equally strong and also heavily used and we’re just racking up lending numbers as the backup source for that 2nd or 3rd copy of something). “Data-informed” is safer than “data-driven.”
Wondering how that activity is distributed across potential users and our collections, I decided to generate a “snapshot” dataset of every item currently checked-out to an affiliate of WRLC. Then I graphed the level of ‘borrowing-from-Mason’ activity by staff, undergraduate, graduate and faculty users at each member library (click to enlarge the graphic):
Graduate students at George Washington are our most active borrowers (with 115 items in circulation). Seems odd but GW faculty are tied with an identical 115 items charged at the moment. As you move down the left column, you find AU faculty coming in third with 89 items, followed by Georgetown graduate students at 87, and so on down the list.
What sections of our library collection most interest WRLC borrowers? The next graph shows by Call Number stem just how many items are currently in circulation to various WRLC borrowers. The PR classification (English Literature) leads the list with 160+ items. QA (Mathematics…but you’ll find most of the computer books carry a QA classification as well) comes in a close second. Love the fact that Z (Library Science and Bibliography) trails the list 🙂