The 'Vision and Strategy for Hampshire Library & Information Service, 2009-2014’ outlines our key objective which is to be,
“A creative service at the heart of Hampshire communities which prides itself on meeting their evolving needs for reading, information, learning and enjoyment.”
Our aim is to ensure that the stock in Hampshire’s Libraries and Discovery Centres is shaped by, and meets, the needs of the local community. To this end, each service point is provided with a targeted range of materials suited to local needs, but reflecting the relative size of the branch, together with local levels and patterns of use. The stock is selected to meet the reasonable information, educational, recreational and cultural needs of all members of that community regardless of age, gender, race, class, ability, ethnic origin, language, culture, religion or sexual orientation. This strong customer focus is embodied by what we call ‘The Hampshire Way’.
The range of material offered will include printed books, (including large print and audio formats), magazines, audio-visual media, e-books and e-resources.
We will strive to ensure that the stock is well presented, well managed and in good physical condition.
Hampshire's selection procedures are based on the following principles:
- Stock is treated as a countywide resource. Items are selected to contribute to the ‘County Collection’.
- Each service point is provided with a targeted selection of books and other media suited to the needs of the local community, its relative size, level, and patterns of use.
- Branch budgets are set in accordance with current use as measured by issues to ensure an equitable distribution of new material.
- Stock is selected via a centralised, streamlined, cost efficient system managed by experienced stock specialists.
- The Stock Team use a range of tools to select and order stock including supplier websites, trade publications and websites, newspaper and journal reviews, and the bestseller listings.
- The stock selection process is structured to ensure that it takes account of feedback from both front-line staff and our customers.
- The majority of our stock is purchased through a regional consortium which guarantees Hampshire high discounts (up to 43%) and rapid supply times.
- Where appropriate use is made of specialist suppliers to identify and source material in ‘niche’ areas such as foreign languages, scores, recorded music and films.
- Where possible new stock is ordered pre-publication to ensure our stock reflects what our customers can find on bestseller lists and in local bookshops.
- Standing orders are used to fast-track the acquisition of key fiction authors, bestsellers, large print, audio books, some reference books, selected travel series and workshop manuals. Standing orders are actively managed by the Stock Team who regularly review and amend as necessary.
- Subject to the available resources we seek to purchase sufficient numbers of popular new titles to minimise waiting lists, (we will consider buying additional copies where there are four or more outstanding reservations per copy). We also purchase a broad range of more specialist titles, but with the aim of not duplicating titles provided in educational, professional or specialist libraries.
- We strive to achieve an appropriate balance between paperbacks and hardbacks to achieve best value. Paperbacks are better value as the cost per loan is lower, but hardbacks are more durable, and in some cases new editions are only published in this format.
- Great care is taken when purchasing stock for children and teenagers. Items are selected not only with regard to their likely popularity, but also their quality and suitability for the target age group. Titles for children of different ages are shelved separately in appropriate sections of the library.
- Audio visual material such as music and films are provided on a cost/benefit basis and are expected to generate income for the Library Service. Provision is under constant review and will be revised to reflect demand.
- In line with developing technologies, but subject to current constraints on the provision of ‘lending’ e-books, we strive to offer a broad range of e-books and quality online information resources, (NB. some reference material is now only available in e-format). These services can be accessed in our branches or via the internet by all Hampshire Library Service members.
- We work closely with Hampshire Archives and Local Studies to acquire material by local authors and titles relating to Hampshire and its history.
- Our scope focuses primarily on material that is published, distributed or readily available in the UK.
We actively seek to collect feedback about our stock from the branch staff, customers and non-customers. Suggestions, comments, requests, enquiries and reservations are all used to inform the stock selection process. Suggestions can be sent by letter, or online using the Suggest a Purchase form. Complaints are also closely monitored as they are a useful way to pick up and resolve any problems with service delivery, including stock issues.
We welcome donations of stock on the understanding that items become the property of the Library Service. Donations are dealt with locally by the branch which receives them. Donated items will be placed in an appropriate branch, but may subsequently be circulated to other locations, sent to the Store, or withdrawn and sold. Donations not required for library use may be offered for sale, (all proceeds go to the Library Service). Similar principles apply if customers donate money to purchase stock.
Some published material may cause offence to some customers because of its religious, political or moral line, or because of the inclusion of alternative or controversial knowledge. Novels may include text of an explicitly sexual and/or violent nature, may contain bad language, or contents deliberately designed to shock. All material which is legally available in the UK may legitimately be considered for purchase. Stock is selected for the positive reason that it is of interest to, or useful to, some members of the public, rather than rejected for the negative reason that it may cause offence and result in complaints. However, we do not knowingly provide material that will provide practical information to potential terrorists, or that is intended to stir up racial hatred.
Every effort is made to maximise access to stock:
- All of the stock, (with the exception of some e-books and e-resources), is listed on the library catalogue. The catalogue provides details of location and availability. It can be accessed in our branches or at https://librarycat.hants.gov.uk/.
- Appropriate stock is systematically circulated in order to maximise use, obtain best value from specialist and expensive stock, and ensure that customers in our smaller service points are provided with a constantly changing choice of titles.
The Library Service offers access to its stock via a range of static Libraries and Discovery Centres, Mobiles, the School Library Service and via our website.
The layout of each service point is designed to be welcoming. Where possible we try to ensure that we provide a range of facilities including areas to browse our stock, children’s libraries, quiet areas for study, comfortable seating where customers can rest or read and IT zones where customers can access the internet free of charge. Some service points also house other facilities such as cafes, learning centres, museums or art exhibitions, or we may share the site with community centres and other organisations. Where possible, we try to ensure that we make the best possible use of all the available space, designing flexibility into our buildings so that we can facilitate a wide range of community activities and events, such as story-time, rhyme-time, reading groups, local history groups, courses etc.
When considering the way the stock is presented we aim to ensure that:
- The stock is displayed attractively in a customer friendly way that enhances access and promotes borrowing.
- The main collections are shelved in an accurate and orderly manner and the shelving layout clearly signed.
- The layout includes ‘quick visit’ browsing areas, ‘face out’ and ‘table top’ displays of new stock, and themed promotions on topics of current interest designed to help customers find interesting reading material.
- Larger libraries and Discovery Centres offer multiple copies of best-sellers which are available for short loan (fastbacks).
- Where possible, reference material is inter-filed with lending stock to ensure ease of access to the full range of titles on a particular subject.
Hampshire actively seeks to promote reading and reader development:
- The Outreach Team and the branch staff are responsible for actively exploiting and promoting stock and encouraging reader development in their local community.
- The Stock Team supports the branch staff providing posters, bookmarks, promotions and displays, and online information.
- Branch staff are trained in ‘The Hampshire Way’, to be proactive in responding to their customers reading and information needs.
Stock is retained on the branch shelves until it falls out of regular use, becomes out of date, is replaced by a newer edition, or becomes dirty or tatty. At this point stock is withdrawn from use and sold or ‘recycled’. All proceeds go to the Library Service.
The last copy of each title is checked by the Stock Team, and if it is considered that the item is still of use, it may be retained in the ‘last copy’ collection at the Store. The Store focuses on adult lending books and audio-books. Children’s out of print titles are considered for inclusion in the Children’s ’out of print’ collection. Some of the titles held in these Stores date back to the nineteenth century; most are available for loan. These collections contribute to the depth and breadth of Hampshire’s stock. Both collections are actively managed to ensure that they remain live, working collections.
Library Managers aim to be aware of how their service points are performing not just in terms of issues and visits but also in terms of stock performance. Measuring the proportion of stock by format and genre, and understanding how the different types of stock are issuing, enables management to understand patterns of use. This can then be reviewed within each branch, and comparatively between branches. This information assists stock management and planning, especially when projects such as self issue or refurbishments take place.