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What Are Our Customers Reading? An Analysis of the Most Frequently Used Subjects of the NIST Research Library Book Collection Based on Circulation



H Hassler


This report analyzes circulation data for the NIST Research Library book collection to determine the most used subjects. Data collected covers the period October 2001 through January 2004. Books are grouped into subjects using their call numbers, and subjects are ranked by usage at the broad class, subclass, and specific topic level. The most circulated individual titles are also given. Tables showing rankings are given in Appendix A. The most represented subject areas in the rankings are Programming, Software, Computer Systems and Special Computing, Probabilities, Statistics, Mathematical Analysis, Atomic Physics, Electricity, Analytical Chemistry, Organic Chemistry of Polymers, Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, Materials of Engineering, Telecommunication, and Electronics. Specific subjects of notable popularity include Spectroscopy, Information Technology and Computer Science, Polymers, and topics related to NIST Strategic Focus Areas. The results of this report suggest that NIST staff use the book collection to learn about topics that support their research, such as programming, research methodology, and statistical analysis, as much if not more than to learn about their specific areas of expertise. This study suggests that the book collection is more likely to be used to investigate fields in which the scientist is less familiar, but in which a situational need for more knowledge has occurred. Among the most popular books in the collection are a number of classic textbooks, supporting the thesis that the Library should view the book collection not only as a resource for subject experts, but also for non-experts coming in from outside a discipline to get an introduction to a new topic.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 7205
Report Number


book collections, call numbers, circulation statistics, information use, library collections, NIST Research Library


Hassler, H. (2005), What Are Our Customers Reading? An Analysis of the Most Frequently Used Subjects of the NIST Research Library Book Collection Based on Circulation, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD (Accessed March 1, 2024)
Created May 1, 2005, Updated October 16, 2008