Usage Statistics for Electronic Resources - A Rationale for Collecting Data UMass Amherst Libraries (August 2006)


As the Library allocates more of its acquisitions funds to electronic formats, increasingly in lieu of other formats, the Library and its staff seek evidence that we are investing in resources which serve the research and teaching needs of our community. Collecting and analyzing electronic use data, however, is not a simple and straightforward endeavor. Standards for defining, counting and reporting (COUNTER), as well as exchanging (SUSHI) use data are evolving. Collection and delivery protocols vary widely among the many information producers, aggregators and host platforms. Meanwhile, as we await further standardization and compliance, we need some means of grasping if and how the e-resources we purchase and provide are used. Use data becomes but one of several measures of resource value.

This proposal covers the purposes for which we collect use data, as well as the types of data needed to inform helpful analysis. The procedures for collecting and storing the data will be worked out among Acquisitions Department staff. Ultimately, Acquisitions staff seek to provide timely, relevant, and readily accessible electronic resource use data to all Library staff.

Purposes - Why We Collect Use Data

We retrieve and store use data to inform these activities:

  • Collection Development – Electronic resource use numbers are important factors in cost per use calculations, access level decisions (limited # of seats or site access), comparisons with print version use, and evaluation of the means by which we purchase a resource, i.e. as an individual title, as part of a package or as part of an aggregated database. Ultimately, use numbers inform renewal decisions and responsible budgeting.
  • Reports and rankings – Administrative tools, such as the ARL supplemental survey, integrate this data; we have ability to share data with broader library community; and we can track historical use and identify trends.
  • Outreach and marketing – Liaisons and reference librarians can share with faculty and students what resources within a discipline are heavily used, or not; and documented use and recognized needs can become targets for fund raising.

Data to collect

This is the data we intend to collect to support our intended purposes. However, please keep in mind that an information provider may not capture and offer this data. Variances will be noted. Data will be collected on a monthly basis and aggregated annually by fiscal year (July 1st – June 30th).

  • Title – the title of the resource to which we subscribe. NOTE: use #’s for units within a package to which we subscribe may not be individually listed, at least initially. “Package” will be noted next to title if it is so.
  • Type - ie. e-journal, e-book, abstracting and indexing database, full text database, image, audio
  • Subject coverage – based on current assignment in DBLocator, with Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory providing further guidance if necessary
  • Cost – of annual subscription or access fee. One time costs will not be included here
  • Selector – as noted in the order record
  • Access terms – ie. site license or # of seats
  • Sessions – per COUNTER, “A successful request of an online service. It is one cycle of user activities that typically starts when a user connects to the service or database and ends by terminating activity that is either explicit … or implicit.” This is being eliminated in Code of Practice Release 4 to be replaced by Record Views for databases
  • Record Views - per COUNTER Release 4, “A Successful Request for a database record that has originated from a set of search results, from browsing the database, or from a click on another database record. (Only full database records may be counted, not Previews of Records).” Found in DB1 reports
  • Searches – per COUNTER, “A specific intellectual query, typically equated to submitting the search form of the online service to the server”
  • Item requests – per COUNTER, “number of items requested by user as result of search … requests include viewing, downloading, emailing and printing of items …”. Found in JR1 reports.
  • Turnaways – only if access is limited to # of seats; otherwise “Not Applicable”
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