Library crowdsources book buying

Book trailers: an early mobile library service in Chicago in 1940.
Book trailers: an early mobile library service in Chicago in 1940.

A major US public library is crowdsourcing its book buying by asking borrowers to order what they want.

Chicago Public Library is calling the pilot scheme Patron-Driven Acquisition and has linked up with Ingram Content Group for its library service.

The programme puts the power of content selection into the hands of borrowers. The library says it will streamline content selection and provide comprehensive tools to buy books that are wanted, saving time and resources.

The imposing Beaux-Arts People's Palace pictured in 1900.
The imposing Beaux-Arts People’s Palace pictured in 1900.

The Beaux-Arts main library building has been a Chicago landmark since it opened in 1897 and is known as the People’s Palace. It was saved from demolition and renovated in the 1970s.

Dan Sheehan, Vice President and General Manager of Ingram Content Group library services says: “It’s rewarding to know we are bridging the gap between what patrons want and what they have access to in their local library.

“By understanding the library’s large-scale needs and goals for the PDA program, we were able to implement a cost-efficient solution that is basically maintenance-free for the library, giving them freedom to focus on other areas.”

The Chicago library has got a $300,000 grant from the Illinois State Library to conduct the pilot scheme over two years.

Ingram has created “hand-tailored” lists for adult fiction, non-fiction, and youth titles and the bibliographic records for these books have been added to the library’s online catalogue. When an item is requested by a borrower, a purchase is triggered, a report is generated for the library and the library places an order with Ingram.

By the time the pilot scheme ends, Chicago Public Library will own around 13,000 new reading and information items.

Chicago has 80 library branches and Ingram has been a supplier to the library for over a decade.