Re: Ascertaining issue usage (Was: RE: Quit Checking In Journal Issues?) Dan Lester 15 Aug 2002 21:42 UTC
Thursday, August 15, 2002, 2:48:52 PM, you wrote: >> ***Forgive my ignorance - how do you ascertain >> usage of the electronic collection? RA> Good question. The answer will vary depending on your local system. For RA> online databases, we generally have to depend on usage statistics provided RA> by the publisher. We are able to track certain kinds of traffic on our RA> local network (enough to tell us that our online journals get a huge amount RA> of traffic), but once the patron heads out onto the Web there's not much we RA> can do to track them. At Boise State we believe that the vast majority of ejournal use is through http://tdnet.boisestate.edu, which produces extensive statistics on accesses to ejournals. It doesn't indicate how many articles were viewed or printed from each, but much of that is available from publishers. Even more is available from our proxy server, which handles in-library traffic, and our other proxy server, which authenticates off campus usage. Yes, this is somewhat of an "apples and oranges" mishmash of data, but it all indicates vast amounts of use. For print and microform journals, there are circulation statistics and the much more important "pickup statistics" (in house usage). Every issue that is picked up is counted by a scanner and totals tabulated by our circulation system, along with the "outside circulation" statistics. RA> Here's one interesting statistic, though, just as an example: from July 1, RA> 2000 until June 30, 2001, patrons downloaded 29,212 full-text articles from RA> our Elsevier journal database alone. (More than half of those articles were RA> from journals to which we had never subscribed in paper.) Bear in mind that RA> that represents use of only one of our many online packages. There's simply RA> no question as to the relative usage levels for print and online journals at RA> my institution. Same in Boise. We can also get some idea of usage of ejournals by observing patrons and the usage of paper on our computer printers in the public area. When a patron has an option between finding an article electronically and printing it vs. going to find a paper copy and then photocopying it, it's a genuine nobrainer. In fact, many of the databases provide an option to limit a search to items with full text. That is an extremely popular feature with students. For the students writing a typical 3-10 page lower division paper requiring relatively few resources that isn't even a limitation on their research. They still have more available than if they searched in Readers Guide and did it the way most of us learned back in the "olden days". RA> I agree. Of course, that's just what we did count in our usage report on RA> print journals. We counted reshelvings, not actual uses; if someone picked RA> up four issues, looked at only two of them and then put all four on the RA> reshelving shelves, that counted as four uses. Actually, all of these caveats relate to ALL library statistics, whether items circulated, reference questions, door counts, and so on. Some days I wonder whether we should bother counting anything at all. Book circulations don't mean anything besides that the book was checked out, not that it was cited, skimmed, read, or even understood. The value in ANY statistics is in their relation to other statistics, and their long term trends and relationships. The absolute values mean nothing. Even if you think you have a million "books" in your library, you don't. And of course your count of a million isn't the same as mine. And so on, ad nauseam. cheers dan -- Dan Lester, Data Wrangler dan@RiverOfData.com 208-283-7711 3577 East Pecan, Boise, Idaho 83716-7115 USA www.riverofdata.com www.gailndan.com Stop Global Whining!