ER&L 2014 — Making Usage Data Meaningful

“Big Data” by JD Hancock

Speakers: Jill Morris & Emily Guhde, NC Live

NC Live is a multi-type library consortium that includes public and private universities as well as public libraries. Everything they provide is provided equally to all libraries across the state.

They wanted to figure out how to better manage the resources, both financial and scholarly. They wanted to be able to offer advice to libraries on better accessibility of the resources like authentication and discovery. They wanted to determine what kind of use should be expected for a library or library type, and how to improve it.

They did not want to determine if a library’s use is good or bad, or to compare databases with each other. They also didn’t want to define the value of the provided database or explain why certain factors may impact database use, but they do hope to get to these things in future iterations of the study.

They began by trying to identify peer groupings of NC libraries based on information about the libraries, population served, degrees offered. These peer groups were then created by a working group of librarians from across the state. Some of the libraries were not included because they were incomparable.

The next objective was to determine what data points would be used to measure usage of each of the databases (they were going to study only five that were broadly applicable across all members of the consortium). For academics, they looked at full-text use per full-time enrollment, but for publics they did something different that I didn’t capture before the speaker moved on. See the study for details.

No one library was at the top or bottom of their peer group for usage across all resources studied. The use of the databases varied wildly, even among peers. The feedback from the consortium members indicated that flexible peer groups might be more useful than permanent peer groups based on what they are wanted to analyze at the time.

Finally, they looked at the qualities of the high usage libraries (top third of peer groupings), such as their access & authentication, size of collection, outreach & support, community characteristics, and library characteristics.

Use of Academic Search Complete was higher in community college libraries with these characteristics:

  • librarians attend faculty meetings
  • have an NC Live representative
  • high number of total information services per FTE
  • high number of circ transactions per FTE

Trends in community college libraries for all five databases:

  • embedded librarians in courses
  • librarian-initiated engagement
  • library orientation
  • librarians attending faculty meetings

Use of Academic Search Complete was higher in four-year college and university libraries with these characteristics:

  • authenticate with local proxy
  • direct link to NC Live provided resources
  • high number of librarians per 1000 enrolled student
  • NC Live representative

Trends in four-year college and university libraries for all 5 databases:

  • higher use with local proxy authentication and federated search service
  • lower use with a link to NC Live website database list instead of individual linking; authentication with a password; displaying an NC Live search box; essentially, less customized services which may indicate fewer tech staff to support eresources

Trends for higher use of Academic Search Complete among all schools:

  • authentication with a local proxy
  • total library expenditures per FTE
  • UNC institution
  • NCICU institution

Use of Academic Search Complete was higher in public libraries with these characteristics:

  • direct links to the resources
  • chat reference box
  • high number downloads of stats from the NC LIVE website
  • high number of promotional items requests
  • staff training for NC LIVE provided resources

Trends in public libraries for all 5 databases:

  • percentage of legal service population with a bachelor’s degree
  • number of stats downloads
  • population density
  • and total operating expenditures per legal service population

Next steps: Planning for future consortium services related to usage data. Need to understand more about what libraries need from them. They plan to share their findings and offer best practices for member libraries. Finally, they plan to develop usage reports and other data that are helpful for collection assessment at both the library and consortium levels.

Recommendations for future research: Libraries need to be better informed consumers of database and set goals for use. We need to work with each other and vendors to develop use and/or cost per use profiles. Similar studies should be done elsewhere to allow for comparison of results that might help explain why the variables are impacting use.

train blog

Amtrak Palmetto by mod as hell
“Amtrak Palmetto” by mod as hell

Left Richmond on time. This is the first time I’ve traveled south on Amtrak, and apparently the system is a little different. For one, the conductor assigned me a seat in the coach car, rather than letting me choose like I usually do on the train to DC. Maybe it’s because the car was full? There also appeared to be designated seat groupings depending on whether you’re going to Savannah (final destination for this train) or Charleston (my destination). Everyone else was fit in where there was room, and one woman kept pacing up and down the aisle saying she didn’t know where to sit, so I guess not everyone was assigned a seat, either.

What is it about train stations being in the ugliest areas of town? The gorgeous view crossing over the James River followed by an amble through the wooded neighborhoods on the south side of the river was a nice balance to the ugly.

After munching on my packed lunch, I pulled out the laptop to work on some to-do items that didn’t get done before I had to leave for the train. Unfortunately, this is not an Amtrak train equipped with wifi (again, another thing different from the train to DC), so all the emails I composed will be delayed until I get to my hotel in Charleston tonight. Same with this blog post, actually.

The view seems to be better in smaller, less industrial towns. The area around the tracks in Emporia (VA), for example, is actually quite pleasant. Pretty sure I saw a deer in a field of corn stubble south of town, too. The tracks here are pleasantly not surrounded by trees on all sides, and we’re clearly in major farm land. Reminds me of Ohio. Except for the cotton fields! So pretty.

Stinky, gassy child across the aisle from me is pleased with her stinky gassiness. Wishing once again for the quiet car option. Or at least a 21+ car.

The late night watching the NPR election page and listening to their coverage hit me. Along with the rocking of the train. Was out cold for a good 30 minutes before I woke up when we pulled into the next stop.

Somewhere in the middle of North Carolina, thousands of beat up cars go to die in a junkyard near the train tracks.

Discovered that the snack car has wifi, and was relatively child and talker-free. Got an hour of online work done. Yay! Also, did some research on beer bars in Charleston. Pleased to see there are several near my hotel.

The train arrived 15 minutes early, and I was at my hotel at the time I originally projected I’d arrive at the station. Sweet! Time for a beer. And thus ends my train blog post.

radcon 4c

Last Wednesday, I woke up and decided I needed to be with my people.

Spaceball CityLast Wednesday, I woke up and decided I needed to be with my people. By that I mean I decided to attend Radcon. Radcon is a science fiction and fantasy convention held in Pasco (WA) every year over President’s Day weekend. I attended it last year, which was the first time I had been to a scifi con, unless you count the time I hung out with some pals in the same hotel as a con in North Carolina half a lifetime ago. I don’t think that counts.

Not much different happened at the con this year compared to last year, except this time I knew what to avoid and what to attend, and there were more familiar faces in the crowd. I still feel a bit like an outsider hoping to get invited to the party, but that’s the problem with any relatively small group of people. Anyway, I took some pictures this time, although I missed most of the Star Trek costumes (dangit!), and I also use the video function on my digital camera to capture two medieval combat events (event 1 and event 2).

this land is your land

A geographic meme, courtesy of Sorcha. Also, places where US paper currency I have spent in the past four and a half years have gone. bold the states you’ve been to, underline the states you’ve lived in and italicize the state you’re in now… Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado … Continue reading “this land is your land”

A geographic meme, courtesy of Sorcha. Also, places where US paper currency I have spent in the past four and a half years have gone.

bold the states you’ve been to, underline the states you’ve lived in and italicize the state you’re in now…

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C /

Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.

blog ethics

If you are a librarian, why do you blog? For whom do you blog? One researcher is on a quest to find out.

If you are a librarian, why do you blog? For whom do you blog? One researcher is on a quest to find out.

From the WEB4LIB listserv:

An Invitation,

I am a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. I have recently started a project that seeks to determine what ethic (if any) is at work in the blogosphere. Also, I am trying to uncover any “duties” bloggers think they may or may not have and to whom.

Please consider visiting and sharing your opinion by commenting on some questions I have posted there.

I will be posting a completed research paper on the site in January for your open comment. I may use quotes from the site in that paper.

Many thanks,

Martin Kuhn
Roy H. Park Fellow, Ph.D. Student
Journalism & Mass Communication
University of North Carolina