New Library Technology Report on Measuring Electronic Resource Use

By Patrick Hogan |

In the August/September issue of Library Technology Reports (vol. 46; no. 6), Rachel Fleming-May and Jill Grogg cover state of the art of electronic resources use measurement, offering guidance on presenting clear and meaningful measurement in research, assessment, and standards creation.

Topics Covered Include:

  • Assessing Use and Usage
  • Standards, Tools, and Other Products
  • Improving Understanding of Electronic Resources Usage
  • Practitioner Responses on the Collection and Use of Usage Statistics
  • An excerpt follows.

    With the explosion of digital resources over the past two decades, standards, tools, and other products have emerged to normalize statistics and improve protocols for transfer and management of such data. Some of these initiatives and products emerged as librarians and content providers alike worked together to paint a more accurate picture of use and usage, even if only at the most basic level. It was not so long ago that reasonably common definitions for actions such as a “session” or a “download” did not exist. Inconsistencies such as these made comparing the usage statistics available from one vendor against the statistics available from another akin to comparing apples and oranges—meaningful cross-comparison was not possible. Item elements, such as session, search, and download, were inconsistent from vendor to vendor and delivered to the librarian in any number of ways in any number of formats. In addition to the inconsistencies in definition, delivery method, and format, at issue is the amount of time it takes for librarians to collect, collate, and archive usage statistics, particularly for libraries with large digital collections. Initially, some libraries chose to create homegrown solutions to address this issue, and later, commercial vendors emerged with products such as Scholarly Stats, Serials Solutions' 360 Counter, and modules within integrated library systems (ILS). The addition of a module to an ILS a third-party product that is interoperable with an ILS with an ILS is particularly appealing because the librarian can then merge the ILS cost data with the use data to produce another valuable metric: cost-per-use. This chapter will be a broad introduction to the types of available standards, tools, and products. It is impossible to delve too deeply into the specifics of the standards and protocols as well as compare and contrast the effectiveness of each commercial or homegrown product. For greater analysis and technical information, visit the sites and articles in the end of chapter notes. From Chapter 2 "Standards, Tools, and Other Products"

    Rachel A. Fleming-May is an assistant professor at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee. She received her PhD from the University of Alabama in 2008, and she has published and presented about use and usage, including in Portal: Libraries and the Academy.C

    Jill E. Grogg is the e-resources librarian at the University of Alabama Libraries. Grogg has widely published on topics such as reference linking, e-resource management, and digital libraries. She was named a 2007 Mover & Shaker by Library Journal. V Chapter 1 "Assessing Use and Usage" is accessible on our MetaPress platform.

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