StackMap Proves its ROI

Our primary goal when we looked into StackMap was to help guests be more self sufficient. And it’s working—one way we know guests are using the product is that we see the maps left up on the catalogue by those who have searched for something and then walked away.

ROI was one of things that I considered when purchasing StackMap. I pull the stack data and see how many uses of StackMap we have monthly, then figure out how many uses per day that was. The total number of uses-to-date compared to our annual cost lets me calculate the cost per use.

Last week I had a staff member do a run through of how long it would take her to help someone find a book. We were conservative in our estimate. I told her, “I’m going to ask for a book whose location you already know so you don’t have to look it up.” The time it took for her to hear my question, get the book and walk back to her desk was 30 seconds.

We started using StackMap December 1st; the number of uses of StackMap since then brings our cost-per-use to 19 cents. And that is essentially the cost for 30 seconds of staff time. So I can demonstrate that staff time saved is at least at a break even point.

We have space constraints. We’re a single location library with 50 thousand square feet serving 168,000 people. Frisco is one of the fastest growing cities in the US, so the cost of construction is high right now and we’re probably a couple of years away from getting additional space. I use the maps to run capacity studies and look into where we can move shelves to take advantage of our space. It’s very helpful particularly when discussing ideas because everyone can see exactly what we’re talking about and how our collections can fit better. 

When we are talking about different ideas like this, I’ll print out a StackMap map and annotate it so staff can see exactly what we’re planning to do. If you are trying to make changes in your building StackMap’s a great way to show it.

StackMap makes it easier for me to calculate where collections will fit and for everyone to see proposed ideas clearly without ambiguity. We save ourselves a lot of time clarifying which space and stacks we’re talking about by looking at a map with common reference points.

—Elizabeth Chase, Frisco Public Library





Veteran’s Suggestion Brings StackMap to Fordham Law Library


At The Maloney Library we base our success on how well our library services meet the needs of our users and enables them to do what they want to do—research, learn or find. We make as many information-driven changes as possible and are always asking what can we do to improve our service for our patrons. There’s a strong culture of users-first and I think that helps to overcome any opposition to change.

We started doing user testing more than a year before we opened the new library and the first person that I interviewed was a student here who is a Marine Corps Veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

We spent an hour going through the catalogue and told me, It would be really cool if you guys had a map of your stacks

so I wouldn’t have to learn the call number classification and look at the call number chart.

Time is limited and students need to find what they need as soon as possible. What if I could find what I needed on a map? So I said, I’ll have to look into that and see if that would be possible.

Soon after that I learned about StackMap from a colleague and we looked into it and realized it would be great. In the summer of 2014, we moved into a brand new library and signed up with StackMap. It had been our plan that StackMap would be part of the new building’s unveiling.

We got StackMap fully up and running for opening day!

It was this veteran’s first year when I did the interview and when I ran into him in the hall, in the new building, he was in his third year. I told him that we’d heard him, made the change and implemented something called StackMap. His response was,

Wow, I can’t believe you guys listened to me.

StackMap is as great as we thought. It saves a lot of time and it makes our collection less intimidating for people. It’s really simple to update via the admin database. It’s affordable and the customer support is really good. It’s really popular with people who are using hard copy materials in our library.

Not long ago, the director of Fordham University’s main library came to us and asked us about StackMap and now they have it too.


—Thomas Kaczorowski, Systems and Emerging Technologies Librarian, The Maloney Library, Fordham University School of Law


Kaczorowski_Tom_9961_4x6Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 7.11.02 AM

Keeping Up with the Latest Technologies

This month we spoke with Christine McCarthy about StackMap at Rogers Memorial Library.

Main Building

We’re always working on reaching new patrons. We mostly use social media to get the word out—we have Facebook and Instagram—but we’ve also done pop-ups at public places like farmers markets to talk to people about our library. We think it’s important to go to high schools so that young students know the library has great things. When we reach out to people through all of these channels, we want them to know that we have current technology and are up to speed.

One of the many draws of StackMap is that it’s a technology product, it’s good for our current and prospective users to see that we are always adapting and keeping up with the times.

We’re one of three libraries with StackMap among 56 in our county—along with Suffolk County Hampton Library in Bridgehampton and Longwood (which is getting StackMap soon).

StackMap is our latest tech advancement following our new streaming and e-publishing services, kindle circulation and wifi printing capabilities.

StackMap is an especially great new tech resource because it makes using the library even easier.

We do a lot of support to help people access our ebooks and use our other tech services, because it can be difficult to use a digital collection. While we are happy to help them, we’re also glad that people can easily use StackMap on their own.

— Christine McCarthy, Outreach & Reference Librarian, Rogers Memorial Library, Southampton, NY


More Privacy with StackMap


We love StackMap because our patrons can find books on sensitive or private matters on their own, without needing to ask anyone for help. StackMap gives patrons independence with discoverability.

When we were designing our building ten years ago we realized one of the biggest problems we wanted to solve for was privacy. We wanted our patrons to be able to find their way around the library and get items on their own, without being bombarded with too much signage or having to tell anyone what they were searching for.

We have so many people working on things or looking up things that they don’t want to ask for help with—like information on divorce or legal issues, medical research on breast cancer or depression, or LGBTQ issues. In our community when people are job hunting, for example, they don’t want their neighbors to know about it.

StackMap provides this privacy, and that is a big asset for us.

Our library is designed to have specific areas where people can look through materials without being broadly visible. And using StackMap affords them the ability to look up an item, pinpoint exactly where it is and get there without help.

The vast majority of our users have smartphones and if they’re using StackMap they just locate the item on their phone and walk right to it.

Often times they’ve even done the search at home so they just walk into the library with their phones out and walk straight to the book they need.

— Sally Ijams, Head of Knowledge and Learning Services, Darien Library



Using StackMap with a Shrinking Physical Collection


Lots of libraries are reducing the size of their physical collections and relying more on digital books. We spoke to Kathy Broad and Susan Urban about the recent downsizing of OKCU Law Library, prompted by a move, and how StackMap helped make it a seamless transition.

Susan: Recently, we moved and downsized our collection. We started using StackMap during the transition from our old building to our new one.

Old Library

Kathy: Previously, on the main campus, the Law School and rest of the school were in two separate buildings.

Susan: Our old library was four floors and our new one is one floor.

New Library

Kathy: We moved into our new building two and a half years ago, in December of 2014. We needed to reduce our collection.

Susan: The new building doesn’t have as much space, so we got rid of items that we had digital duplicates of.

Kathy: Now we have about 60,000 volumes in our library. Not only did we reduce the collection, we also moved some items, previously separate, into the General Collection, like our legal reporters, popular reading, and the pro bono collection. Except for a handful of items on a lower level (DVD cases and microfiche and micro forms) our new library on a single floor is more spread out—it spans almost an entire city block.


Kathy: StackMap is the system we use to make it possible for students to find things throughout this large floor.

StackMap makes it easier for students and faculty to find materials, some of which had been in several different locations before.

Susan: We started moving the books to the new building a semester before the new library opened, so first year students weren’t familiar with how to use the library and some of our returning students had forgotten.

The move also created a situation in which many more of our students didn’t know how to use the library. Luckily StackMap makes it easy.

Everyone, including our staff, has had an easy time using StackMap. The person who spearheaded StackMap integration left so I took it over during implementation and another library assistant maintains the ranges.

When we add new collections, I’ll update StackMap and one of the library assistants does our shifting. It’s been easy to share the responsibility.

— Susan Urban & Kathryn Broad, Oklahoma City University School of Law

Making Compact Shelving Easier to Navigate

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 8.05.50 AM

Compact shelving allows libraries to expand their collections without constructing costly additions or new buildings. Only problem? Navigating the shelves is intimidating and difficult for students, especially if the shelves lack accurate and updated signage.

We spoke to Scott Matheson of Yale Law Library about how StackMap makes it easy for students to use their extensive compact shelving:

“Compact shelving was built into the library with the renovations that happened years ago. While it makes up only two of our floors, it’s half of the shelving. That’s a lot of our stacks.

For those who don’t know, compact shelving is shelving on rails that roll. There are handles for rolling each shelf back and forth. Instead of having 32 inches between each range, you don’t have to have much space at all. Even with ADA requirements, you can shelve more than double the amount of materials in the same space.

Before StackMap, students would get a map of the room they were going to and a call number but then had to try and find it on their own. Our compact shelves are 14 feet tall and the materials on the top shelf are often different from those on the bottom shelf. With their ladders, locks, breaks, and the need to crank the ranges around to find books, they can be challenging for our users.

StackMap makes what is really intimidating much less intimidating.

Students find it helpful to use StackMap for directions. It’s quick to help someone who approaches the Reference Desk when you can open the tab on your computer, show them where to go and even provide  them with StackMap’s text instructions of how to get there. It can accurately show the location of a specific volume within a multi-volume journal set.

Our reliance on compact shelves makes it all the more important that StackMap allows us to be sure that range signs on each shelf are accurate and up to date.

The mapping and the signage that we get through StackMap further helps users find what they need, to connect them with what they’ve located in the catalogue. Getting the desired material into their hands is the last piece of the equation.”

—Scott Matheson, Yale Law Library


When Service is Your Top Priority


We spoke with Debra Kolah of Rice University’s Fondren Library about how StackMap helps her deliver on her library’s top priority: Service!

We’re a cobbled together library that’s had multiple innovations over time—not all of our elevators go to every floor and not every stairwell goes to every floor. We got StackMap to help alleviate all the navigational issues that come with that.

Our library is very service-driven and I’m with the User Experience Office. We run surveys out of the Access Services desk and every Tuesday we set up another desk to answer questions our users have. We call it guerrilla testing.

Our users give us all the best ideas on how to improve. This is why we love StackMap—we translate what we hear from our users into action because so often their needs are new maps or increased signage.

The best improvement we’ve made was mapping all of our different types of study carrels on StackMap. You can click on a link that allows you to look at available carrels and as you scroll through that list, you can see which are open and locate them on a map. For example, if you were trying to find a study carrel on the third floor, you’d click “Locate on a Map” and see this:

image (1)

We love that our website is now a one-stop-shop: You can make a “reserve-carrel” request, see it on a map, and print out a DIY “Carrel Reserved” sign.

The upcoming projects in our queue are to improve accessibility of our DVD collection, portable DVD players, and music scores, all of which are hard to find. Our Exam Period Map which shows study zones, snacks, quiet areas, and areas conducive to group study we’ll add to StackMap this year. In the past we’ve had to make it and post it ourselves!

Our StackMap implementation continues to grow as we increase our understanding of what our users need. We’re always trying to improve our customer experience so we love that StackMap helps us do that.

—Debra Kolah, Rice University’s Fondren Library

Thinking about getting StackMap for your library? Have it already and want to keep improving the experience for your library patrons? Get in touch with us at We’d love to hear from you.