When we opened our "Neighborhood Library" concept (first at Roxborough, then at Lone Tree), one of our measures of success was that 50% of the collection would be checked out. Last week, at Lone Tree, we actually hit 60% (Lone Tree has some advantages over Roxborough -- bigger population, all on the first floor).
Rochelle Logan posted a question on libnet asking if anybody else uses this measure. I tried to post a similar question on the Urban Libraries Council email list.
Until somebody tells me otherwise, I have to say that we are the first library I've heard of to have over half of its collection in the hands of the public (and not stolen!).
The success of this approach depends on many factors: the advance selection and ordering of our selectors and aquisitions people, the processing prowess of our technical services department, the merchandising and handselling expertise of our paraprofessionals and librarians, and the assistance in the design of our spaces by talented interior design and other creative people.
I'd be interested in hearing from anyone else that has tried to use this measure.
Incidentally, our bigger libraries, with a greater depth of collection, don't come close to this level of use. Our regional libraries are more in the 35-40% range. But even that is higher than many, I believe.
What's normal? 25%?
I do know this: getting that kind of use frees up more space for even more popular materials. I also know that it still doesn't solve our space needs in Douglas County.