Evidence is the unbeatable sixth sense

Library analytics can be very useful to assess and evaluate library resources and processes but it is not often clear how to get evidences from the statistics and the data collected to allow us to decide on the right direction. The definition of the exact metrics and the terminology that should be used is only the first handicap to overcome. Many organizations don’t even get through this, but if they do they often get stuck in the cost-ineffective manual exploitation of statistical data. This often leads to avoid all this mess and take decisions based on our librarian’s sixth sense rather than on evidence.

—I see patterns in our data. —In your dreams? —No. —While you’re awake? —Yes. —Patterns like, in our loans? In our collections? —Hidden in the library applications, unreachable, unrelated. They don’t see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don’t know they are there. —How often do you see them? —All the time. They’re everywhere.

We have plenty of web analytics tools to track the use of the different library services delivered through the web. Usually our Library Management Systems are not as open and standard as we want so it is difficult to analyze the library activity data from all the desired points of view. But it’s important not to resign and try to automate as much as the statistical data extraction and processing we can. With this, we’d have the control of the library processes all the time to give our users what they really are demanding, and real evidence would be our unbeatable sixth sense.

Update: We’ve been working on the of library analytics automation of our loan logistics and our collection. You can get more information about these projects in our labs website and remember we’re always open for collaboration!

About this post

This post was first published on LibTechNotes, a blog from the Library team at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya to share our everyday findings, solutions and inspirations.