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Re: Ascertaining issue usage (Was: RE: Quit Checking In Journal Issues?) Rick Anderson 15 Aug 2002 20:48 UTC

> ***Forgive my ignorance - how do you ascertain
> usage of the electronic collection?

Good question.  The answer will vary depending on your local system.  For
online databases, we generally have to depend on usage statistics provided
by the publisher.  We are able to track certain kinds of traffic on our
local network (enough to tell us that our online journals get a huge amount
of traffic), but once the patron heads out onto the Web there's not much we
can do to track them.

Here's one interesting statistic, though, just as an example: from July 1,
2000 until June 30, 2001, patrons downloaded 29,212 full-text articles from
our Elsevier journal database alone. (More than half of those articles were
from journals to which we had never subscribed in paper.)  Bear in mind that
that represents use of only one of our many online packages.  There's simply
no question as to the relative usage levels for print and online journals at
my institution.

>         "Of course, "use" may be defined differently
>         in the print and electronic realms -- if you
>         do an online search that turns up a list of
>         300 articles, have you "used" each article?"
> ***my thought would be that if you do so, you also need
> to count every issue on the shelf that was touched/moved/
> glanced at to find the one you were looking for.

I agree.  Of course, that's just what we did count in our usage report on
print journals.  We counted reshelvings, not actual uses; if someone picked
up four issues, looked at only two of them and then put all four on the
reshelving shelves, that counted as four uses.  Now granted, patrons do
sometimes reshelve on their own, which artificially deflates reshelving
statistics.  However, our reshelvings had been artificially inflated earlier
in the year studied by the (discontinued) practice of applying the first
hashmark the first time an issue was shelved.  I figure those two factors
probably cancel each other out, leaving the .5-uses-per-issue about as good
a number as we'll ever get.

Rick Anderson
Director of Resource Acquisition
The University Libraries
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