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Re: serials use studies HUESMANN@UWLAX.BITNET 12 Apr 1991 15:04 UTC

Beginning in October, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Serials Department began a Serials Use Study.  Intended to give
us use figures for a projected allocation formula, the use study
was required to provide by-title use figures in an inexpensive,
staff-UNintensive method.  Another parameter was that this study
was to begin with current periodicals, then expand to bound and
microform formats.  The availability of inexpensive bar code
readers, automated serials systems, and pc-based databases
offered low-cost, user-definable solutions.  These technologies
combined with the need for accurate statistics prompted us to
produce an automated serials reshelving system to provide this

Using VIDEX Timewand portable bar code scanners, information from
our automated serials control system (SC350), a share-ware bar
code generator, continuous feed computer labels, clear tape,
Dbase IV, and a bit of elbow and mind-grease, we developed the
following system.  One bar code label is placed on the current
serials shelf next to the title label.  As student workers
reshelve periodicals, they scan the barcode once for each issue
reshelved.  The bar code scanner (ours hold 8K of info; Videx
also produces 16K scanners), which are about the size of a
credit-card calculator, is placed back into its
recharger/downloader at the end of its use.  The information is
then downloaded (as an ASCII file) into a DBase file for use.
The file consists of the date and time of each scan, as well as
the barcode number that was scanned.  This file links with others
to produce Use-By-Title (in order by title and by # of uses),
Use-By-Discipline, Use-By-Day, and other miscellaneous reports.

While originally set up for an allocation formula, this study has
been effective in documenting the need for additional student
workers; rescheduling reshelving staff to cover peak days; and
the generation of a very interesting report, USE OF TITLES OVER
$1000.  The last report was very instructive:  of the 30 some
titles over $1000 purchased by our institution, only 6 of the
titles were reshelved during the first three months of the

Arguments against this study have been few, but have included the
following: I reshelve the journals I read, what if somebody just
pulls the titles off the shelves (or sends their students over to
do it), what about the historical need for this title, my class
that uses that title only meets every two years (every spring,
etc.).  Our responses were ready for these points.  We have
signs that tell you not to reshelve journals - what do you do to
a student who doesn't follow directions on an exam? (so far, just
laughter to that one).  We will try to watch for people pulling
off titles (but if they were titles that weren't being used, at
least they are now!).  Historical (not current) titles -
implementation of microform use studies began April 1, with bound
study projected to begin later this year.  Titles used only once
every two years - this is why a serials use study should be an
ongoing, continuous part of operations; if a title is only used
every two years, after the time it is used its importance versus
AVERAGED use should be considered.

A more completion description/demonstration of our project will
be presented in Poster Session VII (Tuesday, July 2, 11:00AM-
12:30PM) at ALA in Atlanta.

I know of two other institutions which have asked about our
project and are setting up similar ones: UW-Superior and UW-
Whitewater.  We have had only one problem with our barcode
readers:  the back has popped off twice, and had to be re-
attached (it's held in by one screw).