Library Statistics and Outcomes Assessment
Rose L. Bland (Hinks and Elaine Shimberg Health Sciences Center Library at the University of South Florida-Tampa, USA) and Allison M. Howard (Hinks and Elaine Shimberg Health Sciences Center Library at the University of South Florida-Tampa, USA)
Copyright: © 2003
The objective of collecting library statistics is “to assess the quality and effectiveness of services [and resources] provided by the library” (Poll, 2001, p.307). A review of the literature shows that measurement of electronic resources is a concern, that standards are necessary, and collaboration with publishers is required. As libraries spend more of their valuable resources to provide access to the electronic environment, they need to turn their attention to the effective measurement of electronic resources. In order to do this, libraries must determine relevant statistics (including those that can be collected internally by the library), request vendors to provide standardized statistics, and finally, evaluate the data in the context of their unique setting to enable sound decision-making. Libraries also need to utilize user surveys in addition to local and content-provider statistics, to get a clearer picture of their user’s needs and satisfaction with library services and resources. Although the task is daunting, obtaining reliable statistics in the electronic environment is needed and continues to be another challenging area in academic libraries. This chapter will examine the various issues involved in gathering usage statistics for library electronic resources, including questions relating to why libraries collect statistics, what needs to be collected, and how data are collected. The chapter will also address the challenges encountered in collecting data, the perspective of content-providers, and the issues involved in data presentation. Finally, there will be a short review of several key initiatives on statistics for electronic collections.