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 information. 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 study. 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).