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Mr. Mustache, another librarian blog

I am a reference librarian with experience in both the public and state government fields. I am doing this on a whim, sort of like the mustache I grew when I was 19 and still have in my 50's.

Location: New Jersey, United States

I am a state worker and a librarian.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

January statistics

Now it’s January and all the Christmas stuff is being stuffed into boxes or thrown out. I have a crummy storage closet in the basement of my building that I have to use my flashlight to maneuver in. Today I deposited two bags of Christmas stuff. A similar process is taking place in the working world.

I remember one Christmas we had some extra kids in the house and we all sang Christmas songs backwards while we disassembled the tree. “Night Holy…Night Silent …..yaw eth lla elgnij slleb elginij.. Well you get the idea. That was when the Beatles were doing songs backwards.

But there’s nothing remotely funny about the horrible thing awaiting librarians on January 2. Year-end statistics. Year-end reports. State required year-end statistics. Yuck. Even the head of the tiniest department or the tiniest library has to fill out perplexing and difficult forms or at least compile some form of statistics.

Conversations at statistics time:

How come if you take the total of books in the collection last year and add your totals for last year, it’s off by six hundred books? Oh that’s supposed to be volumes not books. How many volumes do we have of Newsweek? Is a year a volume? No, because they start a new volume in July.

Computer stats are even more fun. Does a search on Google mean a reference question? Why are the Ebsco figures so high? Do we count hits that were rejected? Is a dedicated OPAC computer a computer even if it can’t get the Internet? Then why were those kids playing games on the OPAC last week? Should the square footage of a library count the garage?

Library directors also finagle statistics. A patron session with the VITA volunteer becomes a library program. The children’s library is a branch library because it is in a separate building and has it’s own furnace.

One fun thing about compiling on-line statistical forms is understanding the difference between hard and soft errors. A hard error is rejected by the program and can not be entered. A soft error seems suspicious to the program and can be entered but you should know why you are giving a weird answer to a question.

The results are posted in things like
Annual library statistics of Ohio. Yuck. Not nearly as much fun as singing "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" backwards.


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