OCLC: Analysis of largest, most diverse compilation of academic book usage data ever collected now available

New OCLC: Analysis of largest, most diverse compilation of academic book usage data ever collected now available – Stephen’s Lighthouse.

I’ve been reading this over the weekend (in between hockey games).  I think this project will help provide the benchmarking data that I’ve been struggling to find to compare our circulation with.

One key finding is that that usage of library collections is even more concentrated than we thought.  Only about 7% (not 20%) of the manifestations account for 80% of the use. I want to understand the distribution of usage more clearly.  It appears that size of the collection is indirectly correlated with usage distribution – the more titles there are from which to choose, the relatively fewer will be used.  But what is the right balance?  Where is that golden spot?

I also think that the ratio of usage is going down over time because overall circulation is decreasing.  This is where finding a ratio of ebook usage to circulation would be ideal.

I need more time to digest this…I’m also planning on looking at the data itself.  Surely there’s something I can use.


3 thoughts on “OCLC: Analysis of largest, most diverse compilation of academic book usage data ever collected now available

  1. Zoltán Szentkirályi

    In preparing circulation figures for various campus-wide presentations, our Dean McCombs suggested that I add up traditional print circulation together with the COUNTER usage stats for e-book title requests and section requests. What do you all think of this? I initially listed them separately, but it’s true that by keeping the traditional definition of circulation, usage appears to be “decreasing” whereas in reality the information is just being accessed differently, and usage may actually be on the rise as e-book usage increases. Have you seen others adding these figures together as an official circulation count?

    1. Karen R. Harker, MLS, MPH Post author

      Sorry for not responding sooner…I don’t think it would be valid to simply combine ebook usage with print circulation. The circumstances of ebook usage are just too different from print circulations – physical access, shorter turnaround times, shorter periods of being “unavailable” for others to use (indeed, for multiple use licenses, there is no period that the titles are unavailable). I do believe that the usage of ebooks should be presented along side of data on print circulations, perhaps even on the same line chart, with the appropriate caveats or explanations. This could demonstrate the trends in usage of different kinds of resources (e.g. audiovisual, ebook, online journals, etc.).

      The concern, of course, is which measure to use. I have been using the measure most closely related to “session” when comparing ebook use to print use. But this may be fraught with problems. If you have the information, perhaps you could set a time limit – sessions longer than 10 minutes.

      There are actually several articles that attempt to compare usage of print & ebooks, but I don’t think there has been a definitive answer as to exactly how to make the comparison in a valid manner. Sounds like a good research project!

  2. Zoltán Szentkirályi

    Karen, thanks for this response. Your comments help me frame the decisions here regarding traditional circulation and COUNTER stats. I instinctively did not attempt to combine the two counts, and your comments help to validate the tracking of these figures separately, at least until further research is done. It does sound like a good research project!


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