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Beyond Log-ons and Downloads: Meaningful Measures of E-resource Use


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Although efforts like Project COUNTER have made strides towards systematizing numeric measures of database access, does the data standardized by COUNTER really help libraries to understand "how information they buy... is being used"? This presentation will introduce a typology of library resource use that provides a framework for assessing use in a more meaningful way.

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Beyond Log-ons and Downloads: Meaningful Measures of E-resource Use

  1. 1. Beyond Log-ons and Downloads: Meaningful Measures of E-Resource UseRachel A. Fleming-May, Ph.D., M.L.I.S.Assistant Professor,School of Information SciencesThe University of
  2. 2. 2 An event? Something that can be measured? …with numbers?Use is frequently assessed in order to generate “objective” data for decision making.
  3. 3. 3
  4. 4. 4Use is often treated as aPRIMITIVE CONCEPT inLibrary and InformationScience:an idea so fundamental tothe theoretical frameworkas to be indefinable, evenwhen presented as aphenomenon to bemeasured and quantified.
  5. 5. 5To measure Use We focus on Inputs Number of patrons who enter the building …and Outputs …such as the number of book circulations.
  6. 6. 6What about electronic resources? • Many instances of use are removed from the library, thus unobservable • Multiple points of access (such as Google Scholar) further confuse the issue: patrons are less aware that they’re using library resources
  7. 7. 7“some of the basic ‘natural laws of libraryand information science’ may not apply aswell or as consistently in the realm ofelectronic information discovery and use”2
  8. 8. 8“Among other changes, theComplete College Tennessee Act:• Funds higher education based in part on success and outcomes, including higher rates of degree completion.”
  9. 9. 9“Questions such as, ‘Who uses these resources?’ or‘Are these huge outlays of funds justified in terms ofuse, or value derived from use?’ or ‘What differencedo all of these resources make to students andfaculty in universities?’ must be answered ifuniversity administrators, trustees, students, andfaculty are expected to support ever-increasinglevels of funding for the acquisition anddevelopment of these resources and services.”3
  10. 10. 10Is Use a Primitive Concept?No. Use does not, in fact have a singular conceptual meaning in the LIS domain and can signify many actions, processes, and events.
  11. 11. The Use Typology: Dimensions ofUse I. Use as an Abstraction Ia. Use as a Facilitator II. Use as an Implement III. Use as a Process IV. Use as a Transaction IVa. Use as a Connector 11
  12. 12. 12Use as an Abstraction• A general term for all types of library/information use• Disassociated from any specific instance of the phenomenon
  13. 13. 13“Of the 57,148households, 27,511households (48.1%)had a householdmember who usedthe public library inthe past year. ”4
  14. 14. 14Use as a ProcessApplication of library/information resources, materials, and/or services… To complete a complex or multi-stage task To the solution of a problem
  15. 15. “This study reveals that undergraduate studentsexperience information use in a complex, multi-tieredway that needs to be addressed by higher educatorswhen creating information literacy pedagogy.”6
  16. 16. 16 Use as a Transaction• Isolated instances of library or information use• Can be recorded and quantified• Removed from the user
  17. 17. “statistics provided by electronic book vendors…show that [our] community uses e-books quite heavily. The data do not show, however, how books are used. For instance, the availableThe data do not show, however, how books statistics show that a book has been accessed butare used….the databetween a one-second click on do not differentiate also do not tell us why anelectronic version of immersion in used instead a title and a five-hour a book was a book.ofThe data also do not tell us why an electronic the paper version”7 version of a book was used instead of the paper version”
  18. 18. 18Transactional Model of Use=Over-reliance on static assessments ofelectronic resource usage, such as…• Vendor-supplied data (COUNTER compliant or otherwise)• Transaction log analysis ▫ Including page view time measurement (are they really reading?) ▫ Log-ons—what about database timeouts? ▫ “Connectedness” of journals within session
  19. 19. 19 Db A: LogVisit to the onReference Desk Article DownloadUnderstanding of Use as Process
  20. 20. 20Understanding Use as Process Not exclusively statistical Requires multiple data collection methods Requires “bipartisan” support, i.e., working with public services to gain a fuller understanding of how and why patrons use the resources they do.
  21. 21. 21How, specifically?• Observation• Focus groups• Interviews• Surveys• Inter-institution information sharing• Usability testing• Triangulation.
  22. 22. Questions?Thank you for your time!
  23. 23. 231. Swigger, Keith, and Adeline Wilkes. 1991. The use of citation data to evaluate serials subscriptions in an academic library. Serials Review 17 (2):41-46; 52.2. Peters, Thomas A. 2002. Whats the use? the value of e-resource usage statistics. New Library World 103 (1172/3):39-47.3. Miller, Rush, and Sherrie Schmidt. E-Metrics: Measures for Electronic Resources. In Northumbria International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries and Information Services.4. Sin, Sei-Ching Joanna, and Kyung-Sun Kim. 2008. Use and non-use of public libraries in the information age: A logistic regression analysis of household characteristics and library services variables. Library & Information Science Research (07408188) 30 (3):207-215.5. Peters, Thomas A. 2002. Whats the use? the value of e-resource usage statistics. New Library World 103 (1172/3):39-47.6. Maybee, C. (2006). Undergraduate Perceptions of Information Use: The Basis for Creating User- Centered Student Information Literacy Instruction. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 32(1), 79-85.7. Levine-Clark, Michael. 2006. Electronic Book Usage: A Survey at the University of Denver. portal 6 (3):285-299.