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Statistics for electronic resources

By Caroline Elizabeth Dean

Abstract

Includes bibliographical references (leaves 67-74).Electronic resources represent a large portion of many libraries' information resources in the current climate of hybrid libraries where print and electronic formats coexist. Since the dramatic uptake of electronic resources in libraries during the 1990's the topic of usage statistics has been on librarians' lips. The expectations that librarians had of being able to compare resources based on usage statistics were soon dashed as it became apparent that electronic resource providers were not measuring usage uniformly. Given the initial disappointments that librarians had in terms of electronic resource usage statistics the author set out to find the reasons why librarians were keeping statistics for electronic resources, which statistics they were keeping for electronic resources, and what were the issues and concerns with regard to statistics for electronic resources. To get an international answer to these questions a literature review was undertaken. The South African point of view was sought through an e-mail survey that was sent out to the 23 South African academic libraries that form the South African National Library and Information Consortium (SANLiC). A 65% response rate was recorded. The international and South African answers to the three questions were very similar. The study found that the reasons why librarians keep electronic resources statistics were to "assess the value of different online products/services"; to "make better-informed purchasing decisions"; to "plan infrastructure and allocation of resources"; and to "support internal marketing and promotion of library services". The study also found that the statistics that librarians were keeping are: sessions, searches, documents downloaded, turnaways, location of use, number of electronic resources, expenditure and virtual visits. The number of virtual visits was kept by international libraries but no South African libraries reported keeping this information. The concerns that were raised by both international and South African libraries were found to be about: the continued lack of standardisation; the time-consuming nature of data collection; the reliability of the usage data; the fact that the data need to be looked at in context; the management of the data; and how to count electronic resources. Clear definitions of the latter are essential. A concern raised in South Africa but not in the international literature is that there exists a lack of understanding amongst some South African librarians of the basic concepts of electronic resources usage statistics. The author concludes with a suggestion that the CHELSA Measures for Quality be implemented so that librarians can see that the collection of usage data for electronic resources has some purpose. Once this is in place one or more training events under the auspices of SANLiC should be organised in order to train librarians in the best practice of electronic resource usage statistics

Topics: Library and Information Science
Publisher: Library and Information Studies Centre (LISC)
Year: 2008
OAI identifier: oai:open.uct.ac.za:11427/14704

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