NLW Special: Excel for Collections

analyzing library collection use with Excel

Analyzing Library Collection Use With Excel
Greiner and Cooper

This is my personal copy that I have had over 10 years. It is my little bible for all things collection and Excel. Yes, it is out of date, but statistics and goals are not. I am also an average user of Excel and appreciated the advice setting up some of my worksheets. You don’t have to be an expert Excel user to get the benefit of this book.

Excel has a lot more features now and I really would like another library focused Excel manual geared to the average user. Simple sorts and functions can yield lots of information about your collection.

I still cling to this since I have been an Excel user since it was called Lotus 123. Professional me says weed this. Personal me says you can pry it out of my cold, dead hands.

Happy National Library Week!


back cover

simple spreadsheet

downloading data

importing data

management decisions





  1. The only Excel I’m familiar with is a brand of chewing gum we have in Canada. Now I’ve got their “Excel-erate your breath” commercial jingle stuck in my head. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. For whatever reason it is common in the USA to use Excel for things that would be better suited for Access, like keeping track of collections. Excel is a spreadsheet for financial calculations and was not designed for database use, but itโ€™s commonly used as such. Never understood why.

    If it works for you, though, great. Why toss it?

    1. This book is not about “keeping track of collections,” it is for analyzing circulation numbers, which are pretty much the same as financial calculations, just without the dollar signs. It helps those of us without accounting degrees figure out how to set up the formulas for calculating various mathematical relationships, for example between age of collection and circulation, or percent increase/decrease in circ over time. Access would be both over-complicated and overall quite poor at running those numbers and displaying them in presentable charts for board members, etc.

    2. I think it actually works just fine for me who has been around spreadsheets since they were practically invented. New library staff would probably prefer using functions available in the newer versions of Excel. The ILS (Integrated Library System for you civilians)is a database and is a better tool for keeping track of collections.

      1. I’m given to understand that new versions of Excel practically run the numbers/columns and rows themselves and make ’em sing and dance.

        1. Maybe for the more finantial stuff, I’ve tried it for technical purposes and it doesn’t really pick up on it. On the other hand, it doesn’t interfere by making guesses when it isn’t sure.
          As far as singing and dancing, you have to go back to Office 2003 and earlier. There you could make text blink or (I’m not making it up) sparkle.

    3. Access is significantly more complex in its user interface than Excel, at least by default. Using Excel for collection management is not so very inappropriate. The furthest afield from intended use I’ve seen it used for was to create a map of a township by making each row and column the same size and applying background colors, borders, text in some of them, and some free hand lines.

  3. Excel and Lotus 123 were from different companies. (Microsoft, Lotus/IBM)

    Lotus123 and Word Perfect had the reputation of being used in offices which were too cheap to get MS-Office licenses.

      1. Lotus 123 did pre-date Excel by quite a few years. (At least it did in the offices I worked at) Lotus 123 was the successor to Visacalc.

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