Combining data analytics with layout improvement heuristics to improve libraries’ service quality

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Vera Miguéis
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Currently, many libraries, either academic or public, possess information systems to support their operations. Although libraries are becoming more aware of the potential of data analytics in supporting library management decisions, there is still a long way to go to take plenty advantage of the information collected. This paper proposes a prescriptive analytics solution to enhance the service provided by libraries, by optimizing libraries layout. The quantitative method introduced aims to identify layout configurations that minimize the time spent by clients in picking books from the library. A new multi-floor layout optimization algorithm is developed, based on the pairwise exchange method heuristic. A real data sample of approximately 66.000 loans, taken from the information system of a European Engineering School’s library, was analyzed and processed. The method proposed was used to improve the library’s current departments configuration, achieving an improvement of 13.2% in terms of walking distance to collect the books. The results corroborate the effectiveness of the method proposed and its potential in supporting library management decisions. © Springer International Publishing AG 2017.