Navigating user engagement and usage statistics in the library

By Kelly Nicholls, Regional Sales Manager – UK and Ireland, SAGE Publishing

April saw over 400 people descend on Harrogate for the 40th UKSG conference.  UKSG is one of the only organisations that spans the entire scholarly community encompassing librarians, publishers, intermediaries as well as technology vendors.  Attending UKSG is a fantastic chance for different members of the scholarly community to get together to share ideas and experiences, as well as debate current challenges and trends.

It was clear from the number of sessions around usability and user engagement that this is becoming an increasingly important way for librarians to assess the successfulness of a resource as well as engaging users in general.   Helen Andreassen and Lene Ostvand librarians from the University of Norway discussed how a library can best support PhD students when they often don’t know what the library can offer. Engaging users is a constant battle for libraries in the digital era due to the wealth of information available on the net.  The key question is: How can libraries help end users to find credible information?

Another key focus of UKSG this year was around usage analytics. Helen Adey, a librarian from Nottingham Trent University, discussed the growing importance of analytics in the library. However, she also stressed the dangers of Counter, the industry standard for analysing usage statistics, being too quantitative and not showing the whole picture. Although Counter is a great way of benchmarking usage across products and publishers, with the advent of other types of more interactive resources this is a real problem in analysing cost versus usage for libraries.  What might appear as low usage, might actually be high usage when looking more closely at how content is being used by academics and students.  For example, a Counter stat of 1 might have been shown by an academic to a class of 200 students therefore having a greater outreach than it first appears.  Since the launch of SAGE Video in 2015, we have been constantly looking at ways of analysing usage beyond the traditional Counter reports. Discussions were held at UKSG with individual universities as to how we might work together to try and solve this ongoing conundrum!

UKSG was once again a fantastic opportunity to connect with information professionals from across the UK and beyond, and as this was UKSG’s 40th birthday party the evening entertainment certainly didn’t disappoint with the most life like Rolling Stones tribute I have ever seen! However, what remains clear is the continued importance of publishers and librarians working together in the digital age to support  changing research practices, ensuring that students and researchers have access to high-quality, easily navigable resources.

Visit our Library Resource Centre to find out more about how we work together with librarians and information professionals to navigate the challenges of our changing scholarly landscape.

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