October 16, 2013

Chicago library patrons influence book purchases with new pilot program


The Chicago Public Library has adopted a Patron Driven Acquisition model for print books.

The Chicago Public Library and its 80 branch locations have received a $300,000 grant from the Illinois State Library to create a Patron Driven Acquisition (PDA) pilot program. Ingram will the distributor for the program, and according to a press release, patron requests will translate directly into orders for the library:

To launch the PDA pilot, Ingram created hand-tailored lists for adult fiction, non-fiction, and youth titles, and the bibliographic records for these books were added to the library’s online catalog. When an item is requested by a patron, a purchase is triggered, a report is generated for the library, and the library places an order with Ingram.  At the conclusion of the project, Chicago Public Library will own approximately 13,000 new reading and informational materials.

The initiative started at the end of September, and so far, 5,250 titles have been added to the catalog. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, these titles include “The Everything Soapmaking Book, Jane Austen, Game Theorist, The Handbook of Bird Photography, and Mind Mapping For Dummies.”

Patron Driven Acquistion models have become more popular as libraries find ways to meet the needs of their communities in both digital and print formats. In addition to hundreds of public libraries world-wide, some academic libraries have also started to adopt the model.

According to a paper given at the Association of College and Research Librarians, there are librarians who are concerned that “patrons, because they make requests for items solely to meet immediate needs and do not have institutional collection priorities in mind, will purchase via PDA popular or non-academic items or will lard their libraries’ collections with topically idiosyncratic or otherwise inappropriate materials” (the titles above seem to be evidence of this).

However, when used in conjunction with traditional collection development methods and librarian expertise, PDA models seem to offer a new way to meet the needs of patrons quickly and effectively.


Claire Kelley is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House.