Norwegian public libraries receive about forty percent of their new books from The Norwegian Purchasing Programme for Fiction and Non-fiction.
The fiction programme goes back to the 1970s and covers about 200 titles for adults and 110 titles for children every year. Norwegian non-fiction books have been included, but on a smaller scale, since 2005. Currently one thousand copies of about fifty non-fiction titles are purchased every year. The books are distributed to all public libraries in Norway.
But what happens next? Are these books popular with the public?
A recent evaluation report (PDF, in Norwegian) has – i.a. – studied public interest in these books, based on the thirty-two titles purchased in 2005 – the first year of the programme. I have tabulated the lending data from the report here.
- In 2006, the most popular title – a book about young cancer patients – was borrowed 17.000 times. This particular book also topped the list in 2007, with 13.000 loans.
- The median title was borrowed 2400 times in 2006 – but only 690 times in 2007.
- The least popular title was borrowed 540 times in 2006 – and 84 times in 2007.
We know that these titles are available in at least one thousand copies. The number in stock is probably higher, since many libraries bought these titles on their own as well.
Turnover = Loans/Stock
This means that the typical turnover in 2007 was less than 690/1000 = 0.69.
When a particular title has a turnover below 1.0, it is borrowed less than once per year. At this level of use, one may consider withdrawal from the open shelves.
If we look at the batch of books as a whole, we find:
- Two titles with more than ten thousand loans in 2007. Still highly popular.
- Six titles with between one and ten thousand loans. Substantial demand. Keep on open shelves.
- Fourteen titles with five hundred to one thousand loans. Limited demand. Store elsewhere?
- Ten titles with less than five hundred (but more than one hundred) loans. Low demand. Dispose of?
The low demand books can always be obtained from larger libraries.