What Can We Do to Get Better Usage Data?
Here’s what vendors, standards bodies, and libraries can, should, and must do to improve electronic resource usage statistics:
- Invest in usability testing for your administrator interfaces. At the bare minimum, look at your competitors’ reporting interfaces and try to copy basic navigation elements.
- Do not require librarians to email you for usage statistics. Make the stats available online.
- Periodically email librarians with the contact information of their current service rep, especially when your platform changes.
- Get on board with COUNTER. At the bare minimum, offer the JR1, DB1, and (if applicable) BR1 reports.
- If you sell databases, give reports at the database level. If you sell periodicals, give reports at the title level. Do not think it is sufficient to give data at the platform level.
- Realize that libraries need fiscal year data and allow libraries to input a custom time range for their usage reports.
Standards Bodies (COUNTER and NISO)
- Focus on adding and updating COUNTER reports that measure full-text retrievals. For many libraries, this is the only metric that matters.
- Implement quality control measures to ensure that COUNTER-compliant vendors are giving accurate reports. Vendors should not be allowed to conflate platforms with databases in a DB1 report or to list journals a library does not have in a JR1 report.
- Consider sponsoring an open source SUSHI client that is clearly documented, easy to implement, and up-to-date with the current COUNTER release.
Libraries and Librarians
- Do not accept mediocrity from vendors. Let your service reps know that you are dissatisfied with the current reporting systems. Let them know you need SUSHI services.
- Pay attention to vendor reporting mechanisms and let them know when something is clearly broken.
- If a vendor calls itself COUNTER-compliant but clearly isn’t, contact Project COUNTER.
- Be willing to educate yourself on and participate in NISO, Project COUNTER, and open source initiatives.
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