Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Success by the Numbers

Let's look at some numbers, not at the quality of the items but the number of items and what they may tell us. I'm going to make some assumptions. Not wild guesses, but guesses still, to make sense of the numbers.

How many DVD's are owned by SPL? According to the "Browse our DVDs" link there are 8876 results of DVD's in the system. This does not tell us how many there are, just that there are so many pointers to so many records. According to Millennium there are 2813 separate "call numbers" for these pointers to these 8876 records.

I'm going to assume two thirds of our DVD holdings are movies or television programs in English and other languages. This means there are about 1874 records representing movies or television shows. The rest of the 2813 are educational or instructional DVDs. There are redundant record pointers in the catalog. Let's round down the number to 1800.

How many actual DVDs are represented by these 1800 titles? These titles represent multiple seasons of TV shows, or multiple parts of long movies. Some of the movies may have over 100 copies on hold and circulating in the system while others may have less than 5. I am going to assume the average number of copies per title is 20. This means there are 36 thousand individual DVDs circulating in the system.

Does this sound right? Does anyone know the actual number? I can't find the actual numbers anywhere so I'm making an educated guess.

Let's jump over to the retail world. Most retail outlets rent movies and TV shows for about 3 dollars a week. 36,000 times $3.00 is $108,000.00. Now, let's multiple this number by 52 weeks in a year. $5,616,000.00. Just to be fair, let's round down again and make it an even $5,000,000.00 per year. This is a conservative guess.

SPL is saving our patrons, uh, customers, five million dollars a year in rental fees.

Change the average copies per title to 30 and the number jumps to over eight million dollars.

I guess (assume) these numbers go a long way toward making the Library successful.

Gerald F. Ward


  1. I hope someone in Marketing is reading this. We need to promote our value to the community in these tight times!

  2. She is right. This is brilliant!

  3. I just did a report for someone along these lines and database wide, we have 66,760 DVDs (includes DVDs in all statuses), which have circulated 110,457 times in about 6 weeks. That's 18,409.5 per week (a bit less than the estimate). Still a very valid argument, though :)