For the Love of Data: An Open Data Release

lovedatascienceBack in the spring of 2012, Book 1 of the Fifty Shades trilogy did something for the first and last time at SPL—the physical copy circulated more copies than the e-book version.  Over the next three years, the e-book version had over 500 circs per quarter. Meanwhile, by early 2014, circulation of the physical book dropped to fewer than 100 per quarter.


For data geeks and librarians, and the community, there are lots of interesting questions to be had.

  • Exactly how long does a popular book stay popular?
  • Did some readers prefer a less conspicuous version than print?
  • Is this an example of a burgeoning interest in e-books?
  • Are we seeing life cycle the differences between the formats?

deardataWhile we don’t have all the answers, we do have some data to help you form your own questions and explore some of the ways the library is used. As part of our participation in the City of Seattle’s Open Data Initiative, we have just released a dataset called Checkouts by Title. The dataset includes a count of checkouts by month of both physical and digital items, and spans from 2005 to the present.

Data skills will be useful for exploring this and other upcoming datasets. If you still think “Excel” is something your mom wanted you to do in school, then you might want to start by exploring Getting Started with Data Science. The list includes a mix of practical tutorials, podcasts, and love letters to data.

~posted by David C.


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