Library Analytics - Block 4, Activity 10

Different kinds of data that libraries collect from their students include:

  1. Course data for the student
  2. Items borrowed
  3. Visits to the library
  4. Login frequency for internet resources
  5. Internet portals accessed (on campus and off campus)
  6. Hours logged in per session
  7. Number of document downloads (normally PDF)
  8. Logged in time for a libary access personal computer
  9. Frequency of the same resource being used and/or accessed (5 or more times, vs. 25 or more times)

The data that the library is collecting may help to improve learning and/or teaching. 

  1. Knowing which routes or portals are being used more frequently, allows the library to tailor their online design and ease of access to let users get their quicker. Something like a word cloud that is being updated live and which has links in it, might allow this access to adapt continuously, rather than wait for someone to review the data and manually recode the library site.
  2. Similarly when specific documents are being continually downloaded, the library could offer a local cache of those documents and/or make them available in an easy to download format (say onto a local storage device), which is particularly important for campuses with slow internet speeds or volume capacities.
  3. Knowing how often or how much a student visits the library may be used to identify students who may be at risk of not accessing the learning material. In particular for courses or disciplines where information may not be easily available online.
  4. Knowing the actual items borrowed is similar to the point made above
  5. I cannot think of a fifth reason that is not a rehash of the first four given above, or variations therof. :-(

The guest blog item ‘So what do we mean when we say ‘analytics’?’ suggested a number of different case studies as to what librarians thought library analytics could contribute to the learning and/or teaching experience. Out of the 49 categories of responses, they seem to cover the items that I’ve listed above, but what I’ve picked up from the blog is that the library analytics seem to be of utility in two main ways:

  1. Data that can help improve the learning for the student.
  2. Data that is more relvant in terms of giving 'value for money' or I guess the cost of accessing relevant resources. That seems a viable point but not so relevant to the actual learning and/or teaching process.

Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.  -Will Durant