The Project Team have been working on the Library Data project for about three weeks now. Here are some of the key questions we’ve been researching.
What research has been done using Library usage data?
We’ve made good progress with a literature review of research that’s been carried out using library data within libraries. Research studies have explored student achievement, retention, use by discipline, and demographics. We’ve decided that student achievement is a good starting point for our research. Can we show that there is a correlation between student achievement and use of our Library e-resources, as other HEI libraries have done (e.g. Cox & Jantti, 2012 2; Stone & Ramsden, 2103 1)?
Research of this kind often focuses on use of the physical library, or a combination of physical library use and e-resource data. At the OU Library we’re going to need to focus solely on use of e-resources and perhaps other measures of digital library use. Possibilities include:
- queries to the Library helpdesk
- number of information literacy skills activities accessed
- remote attendance at online Library training events
We’ll continue to build on our literature review, but we have enough information now on research into student achievement to begin the first phase of our analysis work.
What data on library use is available to us?
We’ve started to explore the data that we have within the library on use of our electronic resources.
|EZproxy raw logs
||All user activity during a session, including requests for images, scripts etc.
|EZproxy starting point URL logs
||Details of the database or article that users first click into, but no activity after that is recorded.
||Details of user sessions from resources authenticated using Athens.
||LibLink is our in-house developed resource system. Log files would include any resources that were recommended to students within their modules.
Our main source of Library usage data is going to be the EZproxy starting point URLs log, and we will begin by analysing that data. We’ll consider analysing the other data logs alongside the EZproxy data to provide additional measures of library use for comparative purposes.
What additional data will we need?
We’ll need to access additional data held within other OU systems to join up with our Library data. For our initial research we will need to include:
• OU Qualification (e.g. English Literature)
• Level of study (Level 1, 2, 3, or postgraduate)
• Degree result
We are talking to our institutional data experts about what data we will need to access and about statistical expertise.
Which tools should we use to query and analyse the data?
Initially we asked our Library IT team to query the raw data on our behalf and they created MS Access files for us to work with. This did not work that well for us for a variety of reasons e.g. the volume of data made it slow to manipulate the data, and we needed to go back to our IT colleagues each time we needed to refine queries. We are currently using MySQL workbench to run our own queries on the raw data, and exporting to Excel for initial analysis.
We’ll need to evaluate further tools, and some that we have identified so far include:
- Jaspersoft business intelligence
What should we focus on initially?
We are currently working up plans for our first two research studies:
Research Study 1 – Basic usage data
Our first task will be to produce some basic information about Library use by OU Faculty and level. We will be able to identify patterns of use, and it may be useful to compare this data with existing studies on library use by discipline. Will our data for a distance learning institution match data from campus-based universities? We may then want to consider developing benchmarks of library use per faculty/level. This work is a recommendation from a previous OU Library study by Neil Dixon who explored whether library use correlates with module satisfaction. These benchmarks would enable Learning and Teaching Librarians to plan library interventions, for example for courses where low-level use of resources has been identified.
Research Study 2
Our second study will focus on library use and student achievement to test the hypothesis that:
There is a statistically significant correlation between library resource activity data and student attainment.
At this stage in the project there are many different strands to explore and many questions to answer. We will explore some of these areas in more detail in future posts.
1. Cox, B.L. and Jantti, M. (2012) ‘Capturing Business Intelligence Required for Targeted Marketing, Demonstrating Value, and Driving Process Improvement’, Library & Information Science Reserach, Elsevier BV, 34(4), pp. 308-316, [online].
2. Stone, G. and Ramsden, B. (2013) ‘Library Impact Data Project: Looking for the Link between Library Usage and Student Attainment’, College & Research Libraries, American Library Association, 74(6), pp. 546-559, [online].