Collecting Usage Statistics for E-Government Resources


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Brown, Christopher C. “Collecting Usage Statistics for E-Government Resources.” Online Webinar, Federal Depository Library Program. Presentation through the U.S. Government Printing Office iCohere platform, 20 May 2014.

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Collecting Usage Statistics for E-Government Resources

  1. 1. Collecting Usage Statistics for E-Government Resources Christopher C. Brown University of Denver, University Libraries May 20, 2014 -- Online via GPO’s iCohere Platform
  2. 2. PURL Primer Source:
  3. 3. The Problem  We have statistics for government documents print circulation • But our directors want statistics • The viability of our depository status may rest on our ability to provide statistics  We don’t have any statistics for online usage
  4. 4. Statistics we don’t know  Visits to online docs URLs by our users – we are clueless!  How many times URLs are visited by our users  What titles are visited by our users  What agencies are most popular with our users  We don’t know the whole picture
  5. 5. How Many PURLS?  142,117 records in CGP with PURLS (as of May 13, 2014).  There are a total of 179,566 PURLS in the GPO PURL database (as of May 13, 2014)  At present, GPO creates about 850 PURLS each month Source – James Mauldin, GPO
  6. 6. Part 1: GPO Solution
  7. 7. PURL Referral Reporting  The tool also provides a listing of the top fifty (50) referred PURL resources per hostname and/or IP address with:  The PURL path.  The full path of the target URL for each PURL.  The total requests for that individual PURL.  A search link utilizing the CGP to view cataloging records for the individual PURL.  GPO releases monthly PURL referral reports; however, these reports include aggregate totals only. Referrals totals strip out bot traffic and focuses on patron requests.  The PURL Referral Reporting Tool is locked down to Federal depository libraries only. Data is current as of the previous day. Historical data is available for twelve months. Tool functionality may be expanded in the future to include greater historical data retention and additional functionality based on funding and community feedback.  Source: stabilization Since Dec. 1, 2010 the referral reporting system has been operational.
  8. 8. Steps to getting Custom Reports  Gather the relevant hostnames or IP addresses for your institution – sites where you have PURLs  Your library catalog (maybe you have two versions like we do – classic catalog, next-gen catalog  Your web discover tool (if you have one)  Your library instruction guides (like Libguides)  Other Web pages that may contain PURLs  Also consider using your institution’s numeric IP address  Go to (You will need to login with your depository number and your internal password).
  9. 9. Run Your Query (login with Internal FDLP Credentials)
  10. 10. Results of Your Query
  11. 11. Top 50 Results
  12. 12. Export to CSV (Open with Excel)
  13. 13. You can See Exact Titles for Top 50
  14. 14. Older PURL Referrals You can get older PURL referral reports from here: Compare your hits against other depositories
  15. 15. PURL Rot  In theory, it would be a wonderful world if someone behind a curtain at GPO would check every PURL every day to check for errors. But that does not happen. It is up to us – documents librarians – to report these.
  16. 16. PURL Rot: Reporting a Broken PURL
  17. 17. PURL Rot: Keeping Track
  18. 18. PURL Retrieval Summary  You can get the total PURL hits by month,  Or the top 50 most popular hits  You cannot get all specific URLs. No way to do a more comprehensive analysis  Statistics are ONLY for PURLS, not for any other online government URLs  Statistics can be incomplete at times (GPO server down, etc.)
  19. 19. Part 2: Local Solutions
  20. 20. Objective To track online government document clickthroughs when accessed via the online catalog oNot possible to capture every use of government info by our users oBut is possible to capture all clickthroughs via the OPAC
  21. 21. Different Approaches GPO PURL Tracking Local URL Tracking Any PURL clickthrough from an institution Any URL clickthrough via the OPAC Broad view: top PURLS and overall numbers Narrow view: specific PURLS/URLS and then can derive titles, SuDocs, etc. Wait for GPO to aggregate data Instant access to data
  22. 22. Basic Idea: How it Works  A URL is prepended to the PURL (or URL)  This URL initially directs to a library-hosted web server which traps for the date/time, PURL (or URL), URL of requestor  The user is then instantly redirected to the PURL (or URL) site
  23. 23. Two Methods to Track Locally  Prepend to PURL  Method #1: trap for the URL, date – more difficult at the end, but easier at first  Method #2: trap also for a unique record number – more difficult at first, but benefits later
  24. 24. A Simple Prepend URL
  25. 25. Clickthrough Dashboard
  26. 26. Benefits of Clickthrough Project  We can provide meaningful stats to the library director  We can see high-use and low-use areas  We can tell if users benefit from our special projects  We can do reactive URL maintenance  We can see turn-aways and other problems  We can see search engine attacks  We can see how our docs work within your discovery tools
  27. 27. Local Use for Docs by FY
  28. 28. Specs: How to ask for a clickthrough system  Project hosted on stable server (such as library Web server).  Should be able to handle long URLs – up to 700 characters.  Prepended URL sends request to library server.  Included in prepended URL is cataloger-supplied 3-letter code of URL type (ex: gov, cou, ran – any 3-letter combination that may be needed in future).  Server records date/time, IP address of requestor, 3-letter code of URL type, and URL requested.  Server redirects user to desired URL.  Reporting mechanism available to gather clickthroughs.  Archiving function available to archive stats.  Ability to view archived records.  Secure login for authorized users. Just give this slide to a code-writer in your library – and you may have a link-tracking system soon!
  29. 29. Local Solutions to Problem
  30. 30. Further Reading
  31. 31. Questions? Christopher C. Brown University of Denver, University Libraries