Throwing the Book at Siloed Data

Throwing the Book at Siloed Data2018-07-08T20:00:09+00:00

Project Description

Learn how the Denver Public Library improved their operations with data visibility

They have data, but all in their own little silos. They didn’t have the ability to view the entire system.”—Carlos Bossy

Executive Summary

The Denver Public Library (DPL) needed a way to better track and view information across all the various data streams that the library generated. This would allow them to make informed decisions about its visitors, collections, and resource allocation to keep up with the rapidly changing needs and demographics of the Denver area.

DPL connects people with information, ideas and experiences to provide enjoyment, enrich lives and strengthen their community. Their vision is to create an inspired and engaged Denver by positively impacting the civic, cultural and educational health of the city.

DPL was already utilizing several mission-critical applications, however, they existed in silos and were unable to communicate with each other. Datalere created a dimensional data model warehouse that provided enhanced visibility into DPL’s existing databases by collecting the data in one place. This process:

  • Deployed Datalere’s custom ETL Framework that tracks 25,000 books a day and loaded the Data Warehouse with 55 million historical transactions.
  • Broke down silos between DPL’s various applications by collecting all the information in the data warehouse.
  • Provided fundamental analytics that allowed DPL to better understand and analyze demographic data, business performance, etc.

Challenges

DPL had several applications already in place, all with their own means of extracting data and generating reports. For example, they had a system that logged whenever a visitor entered or exited the library. They also had a separate system to track how many books an individual had checked out.

However, none of these systems spoke to one another. There was no way to cross-reference the data to identify trends, addressing questions such as:

  • Are the libraries drawing adults, seniors, or children? Which library draws what kind of demographics?
  • How can they ensure that they have enough children’s’ books at one library and not too many at another library?
  • Is a visitor using their “home library” or a different library in the system?
  • How many books does each patron download versus books physically checked out?
  • Are visitors using the library’s devices or using their own devices on library Wi-Fi?
  • Are library event spaces being used cost-effectively?

DPL’s existing, siloed data systems didn’t allow for the identification of these kinds of trends. DPL needed cross-system views into their data to make informed decisions about their collections and resource allocation.

How Datalere Helped

Datalere created a dimensional model data warehouse for DPL, which, when combined with Datalere’s ETL Framework, allowed the library system to aggregate data from all its various databases into the data warehouse. Through this system, Datalere created dashboards for DPL that provided visibility into all the location data, inventory data, patron data and more, allowing for analysis and trend identification.

Throughout the process, DPL worked directly with Datalere’s management and data experts. It was a transparent, collaborative process that assured DPL that the project was on-time, on-budget and meeting its data needs.

Proven Results

Through the first phase of a three-phase project, DPL gained invaluable visibility into its operations as well as experience and education managing data and fundamental analytics. Currently, the DPL data warehouse is processing 25,000 books a day and was pre-loaded with 55 million historical data entries.

The dashboards Datalere created also empower library Seniors (branch directors) to evaluate how their branch is performing and easily compare their branch to other branches in the library system. They can even create ad hoc reports as needed without having to rely on Datalere to generate them, providing significantly improved flexibility and agility to the business.

Future phases will prepare DPL to answer forward-looking questions, such as the best location to build a new library or what customers want before they walk in the door.

As a result of this project, Datalere provided DPL with an efficient, flexible, and self-service way for their staff to enter relevant data, retrieve actionable insights from that data and produce reports and dashboards to meet their organizational and legal needs.

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