Decisions Blog

Archive for March, 2010

Reservations and Items (part 2)

Last week I posted an example of a report showing data relating to Reservations. To finish that example off, here is the procedure that I used to create a chart based on the same data. It may be useful in itself, but more importantly it illustrates some general principles about using charts in Talis Decisions.


You will perhaps recall from that earlier post that the report had the following basis:

  1. A query returning Control number and Total number of reservations from the Reservations Universe
  2. A query returning Control Number, some further Bib data (not used in this example) plus the Total number of Items – all from the Circulation Universe
  3. Merging on the Control Number dimension to synchronise the queries

The Chart

SP32-20100329-101257 To create the chart, first create yourself a new report (i.e. a new tab in the report section of the document). The easiest way to do this is to go into the report view, right-click an existing report tab and select Insert Report.

This adds a new, blank, report tab to the document. You can right click the new tab again to change its name, and/or to move it’s position relative to other report tabs.


SP32-20100329-103429 Now go to the Templates tab in the data and controls area, click on the plus sign by Charts, then the plus sign by Bar. Drag  Horizontal Bar and Line into the working area.







SP32-20100329-103918 This puts a chart widget into the working area and switches automatically to the Structure view (any report can be viewed either as Results or as Structure by toggling the View Results/View Structure button at the top centre of the report view).

As the terminology implies, the Structure view shows the report definition (e.g the formulae used in specific table columns) and the Results view shows the actual data



Switch back to the Data tab and drag the Control Number and the two measures onto the chart widget as shown:


If you switch to Results View now you may not see much. There are a high proportion of items with null reservations and the chart will not know how to plot these. You could add a report filter as described in the previous post to remove the null values. You could also take the same approach to sorting.

An alternative which will not only get rid of the null reservations, but will also cut the values down to the top 5 (or 10 or whatever you specify) AND sort by numbers of reservations is to use the Ranking function. Select the table and click on the Ranking icon:


…then complete the dialogue:



Now when you view results you will see something like this. Finally you can tidy it up to make it more readable. Select the Chart and click on the properties tab in the data and controls area. As a starter you might try:

  • Width 600px
  • Height 400 px
  • Uncheck 3D look
  • Check Legend
  • Under Values, Check Show Data.

These changes would give you something like this:


Interpreting the Results

It is arguable that, all other things being equal, the orange line (number of items) should roughly mirror the blue bars (number of reservations) because this would imply that the ratio of numbers of copies to the number of reservations would be about constant. However this picture would be distorted by issues such as:

  • Seasonal effects (e.g. textbook usage in an academic library)
  • Transitory effects (e.g. a title which was a Booker prize winner last month)
  • Cost: if in the example above the top ranked item (Control number 0903505371) was very expensive but the fourth item (0140542698) was low cost then the latter might be prioritised ahead of the former.

In Conclusion

As ever, it would be useful to know how useful examples such as this one are. Please do let me know if this is helpful; and if you need further creating reports like this, please do feel free to speak to you Account Manager.

More Free Training Videos

The training videos on the Talis Decisions Website have been extended again. They have also been re-organised into three sections. Each contains a set of bite-sized videos (about 5 minutes long) as follows:

  1. An introduction to Talis Decisions covering the basics of creating, editing, filtering and scheduling Talis Decisions documents
  2. Variables – creation and use of variables, which greatly extended the flexibility of reporting
  3. A tutorial on visual dashboards

SP32-20100326-141652 The last one of these is new. It shows in a series of videos the construction of an example of a dashboard which displays actual performance against a Key Performance Indicator (KPI). The KPI chosen is fictitious but the example shows what can be achieved, and a number of techniques which are of wide applicability.


As ever if you would like to discuss how to go about making such reports available to your users, please contact your account manager

Reservations and items

In an ideal world, there would be no reservations: the library would hold sufficient numbers of copies of exactly what borrowers were looking for and no more.

Sadly we don’t live in an ideal world. Acquisition budgets are not limitless, and demand forecasting is not an exact science. One question that has come up on the the Talis Decisions forums recently is comparing reservation demand with stock, presumably on the assumption that works with far more reservations that copies on the shelves are candidates for a stock order.

There are a number of ways to tackle the creation of a report like this. Here is one:


I specified two queries thus. As ever, you would should probably limit the total items query to items In Stock, and you can add other data if you wish…

…From the Reservations Universe


…From the Circulation Universe:

SP32-20100318-154815 .

The Reports

To get a  tabular report, you have four tasks

SP32-20100322-100446Firstly, click the Merge Dimensions icon on the toolbar. This will pop up a dialogue which will allow you to merge, or synchronise, the two queries on Control number (if Talis Decisions has not already done so automatically):



Secondly, drag Control Number, Author, Title and the two totals (items and reservations) into the report working area

SP32-20100322-100906Thirdly, apply a report filter to remove rows where there are no reservations:







Finally, right click the Total Reservations column and sort it descending. This puts put the “most reserved” works at the top:






This results in a tabular report that looks like this :


Finally. here is a chart created in the same Talis Decisions document from the same queries. It contains the same data as the table, albeit only the top few rows. It makes the point rather more dramatically


If you would like me to go into detail in a later post about how to create a chart like this, then please e-mail me or leave a comment. If you would like help writing this kind of report, have a word with your Account Manager.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – Take 3

For my last post on KPIs (for the time being anyway), I thought I would provide links to other guidance on the topic. There have been many papers on library performance management with many being published in the early to mid 1990s. See for example this bibliography from Canada. Here are a few more recent offerings:

Measuring Quality; Performance Measurement in Libraries 2nd revised edition

This handbook was first published in 1996 for academic libraries only. The 2007 edition has been extended to cover both public and academic libraries. Copies are available for sale from the IFLA. A table of contents is available here.

ISO 11620 – Information and documentation — Library performance indicators

This was first published in 1998. A revised (2008) edition is available from the International Standards organisation (ISO). From the Abstract:

ISO 11620:2008 specifies the requirements of a performance indicator for libraries and establishes a set of performance indicators to be used by libraries of all types. It also provides guidance on how to implement performance indicators in libraries where such performance indicators are not already in use.

Working towards Outcomes Assessment in UK Academic Libraries

(Journal of Librarianship and Information Science.2003; 35: 93-104 )

This article attempts to suggest ways to evaluate the performance of an academic library based on research outcomes. It is available here.

If you know of, or use, other recent guidance in this area, please do leave a comment