The Measurement of Use of Web-based Information Resources: An Early Look at Vendor-supplied Data

Deborah D. Blecic, Joan B. Fiscella, Stephen E. Wiberley

Abstract

To manage Web-based resources effectively, librarians need to evaluate vendor-supplied data about their use. This article explores the types of data available, using as its starting point the elements defined by the International Coalition of Library Consortia’s (ICOLC) “Guidelines for Statistical Measures of Usage of Web-based Indexed, Abstracted, and Full-text Resources.” It discusses the problems and issues of comparing use data from different vendors. Then, illustrated with data from one library, the article addresses five measures that have implications for collection management: variability of ICOLC data elements over time, which demonstrated the need to examine data continually; ratios of queries per session, which showed more stability over time than individual ICOLC elements; use by hour, which documented remote use but confirmed that most use occurred during regular library hours; use of electronic journal collections, which was more scattered than the classic 80/20 distribution; and use of Web-based resources in relation to a disciplinary population, which provided an index of value for assessing use of a particular resource. This study identifies aspects of data collection that librarians need to pay special attention to, recommends that vendors report the maximum number of simultaneous users per day and data gaps in addition to ICOLC elements, and suggests per capita use as a comparative measure among libraries.

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