Email list hosting service & mailing list manager

Trouble with usage studies (Albert Henderson Marcia Tuttle 02 Jul 1996 12:57 UTC

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 2 Jul 1996 00:53:19 EDT
From: Albert Henderson <70244.1532@COMPUSERVE.COM>
Subject: Trouble with usage studies

Donna Lively commented:

> Mr. Henderson seems to want us to dismiss low "browse stats" as
> criteria for cancellation because there may be "many other" uses that
> are unrecorded.

Actually, I wanted to encourage getting thoughtful advice from research
and faculty departments as preferable to use and impact statistics for the
purpose of collection development, weeding, cancellations, etc. Esoteric
materials won't be used as often as undergraduate stuff. If you are in a
"research university" there must be some obligation to support research.

> Indeed, but that is also true for those titles which
> show high usage too.  The point is, in context, when one is
> cutting serials because one has no choice, because one's budget is
> also being cut, use studies can still reliably show one what is
> used heavily and what is not, period.  If all the "uncounted" uses for
> all the journals were counted, I would bet that one would have close
> to the same ratio of usage between "high use" and "low use" titles
> that exists now with our "imperfect" methods.  Guess which ones will
> still be targeted for cancellation?

The result  was described in a recent comment that when a researcher maxed
the CONTU guidelines of 5 interlibrary borrowings of a particular title, he/she
is told to either go to another library or enter a personal subscription.  This
is the academic equivalent of revoking the key to the executive wash room. My
feeling about this is the missions of the library and its institution are being
severely compromised.

> Publishers who fear that their journals will end up on
> the low end, should get busy and get them online for easy doc
> del access because that is how more and more libraries will be
> purchasing them, and these publishers might as well have some control
> over the process and also get the "delivery fee" that CARL or
> some other commercial vendor makes over and above a copyright fee.

Carnegie Mellon economists Zahray & Sirbu published (INFORMATION ECONOMICS AND
POLICY 4:127-154, 1989/90)  a model some years ago indicating that royalty fees
will rise sufficiently to foil any idea of cost savings. It seems to me that
model is being realized.

> Researchers will also have to learn to operate in a new paradiagm
> with the use of online indexing and abstracting services and current
> contents services for their "browsing" or their careers will continue
> to be "hurt" and frankly it is not necessary that they should be.

This is not the answer. NFAIS production figures indicate that coverage
by the major index / abstract services is being curtailed as a result of library
cancellations. See the article by Richard Kaser in PRQ 11,3:10-24, 1995.

Have a heart.