My friend shared his 2007 reading list with me (he started maintaining a list last year). His list runs so long and wide I can't find a way to capture it in one screen shot.
I thought I was meticulous in compiling my own "read list" but his list blew me away! He gave me permission to share excerpts here but insisted on anonymity.
In 2007, he borrowed 215 items from the public library.
The equivalent of SGD$ 8,762 (based on what it would have cost him to buy the books rather than borrow).
Wow, that's making excellent use of his Premium Membership.
He was quick to qualify that by "reading", he doesn't necessarily read from cover to cover. Some he might scan through. A rare few he'd return to the library without reading (I joked that he was like a hoarder and going to the library was like free retail therapy! lol)
But clearly, he's read the majority of what he borrowed. The proof being the short one-liner synopsis for some of the books.
In his list, apart from the usual "Title", "ISBN", he records/ calculates things like whether he made a reservation for the item, whether it was renewed, how long did he hold the item, amount of fines incurred (if any), the cost of the item.
He classifies them up to 10 categories (these are his own subject categories).
He also developed his own "reading depth" scale (i.e. how much of the book did he read), his own rating scale for its content, and how items he subsequently purchased from bookstores.
For each field, he calculates the total and average figures. All this helps him quantify the net monetary net (what he termed as "Leverage") from his using the public library (after deducting the fees and fines).
His final analysis was a positive "leverage" of 53.66 times.
[My friend clarifies: "It's actually the amount I would have spent on the books I borrowed, if I had bought them, divided by the amount I incurred borrowing them i.e. total of membership, reservation, renewal, fines. So, the higher the figure, the better i.e. stretching my dollar."]
His top subject read was "Investment & Economics & Business" (57%) with the remainder distributed over nine categories.
My analysis of my friend's 2007 library usage as follows:
- For less than $170 a year, he's resulted in a cost-avoidance almost $8,800. That's a significant amount.
- He's mainly interested in the Business and Investment subject, but has also achieved a commendable spread among other subjects (only area he didn't read up was Health & Sports). Diversification is always good. Most people tend to focus narrowly on two or three areas.
- Judging my friend's active and sustained use of library materials, I'd infer that the public library has adequately supported his reading needs.
Like my friend, I record my reading list on an Excel worksheet. Makes it easier to churn out figures.
Mine's just a simple worksheet with "Title/ Author", "Type" (fiction or non-fiction), "Subject", "Format" (book, magazine, blog etc.), "ISBN".
This is my list of library items read in 2007 (all borrowed from the public library).
In 2007, I read 36% more items compared to 2006. Looks like I'm back to my 2004 reading level.
Total items read
But item for item (2007 Vs. 2004), I'm reading more Graphic Novels than "Books" per se.
- 2007 = Books 46%, Magazines 33%, Graphic Novels 17%, CDs 4%
- 2004 = Books 73%, Magazines 22%, Graphic Novels 5%
There's also a shift towards Fiction works.
- 2007 = 69% Fiction Vs. 31% Non-fiction
- 2004 = 56% Fiction Vs. 44% Non-fiction
- 2007 = Art (graphic novels) 41%, Science Fiction 27%, Contemporary Fiction 4%
- 2004 = Science Fiction 26%, Contemporary Fiction 14%, Military 13% (others include Management 12%, Fantasy 9%, Library Science 5%)
Ironically, I've not been motivated to explore LibraryThing.com in depth. I'm not sure if it provides a way to input, store and share such "reading list" data. I know it allows a list to be created but it's a sequential one, rather than for specific and multiple time periods. I could be wrong but it doesn't have any data-crunching statistical features.
There's Shelfari.com but it's been a long while since I logged in. Again, my impression is that it allows you to start a list but not by specific and multiple time periods.
Anyway, I'll stick to Excel for now.
Until a social sharing platform comes along for people interested in sharing their "reading list statistics".
Now I also wonder who else keeps their own reading list.
Of all the Singapore librarian bloggers I follow, I only know of QQ*librarian. Her list is more of an online listings of items read. I don't think she goes into calculation of Subject and cost analysis.
Hey, maybe the public library should build one. Allow people to maintain their "Annual Read List".
Which the library can utilise to understand reading habits and patterns. And channel back that information towards tweaking its collection range and depth.