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Understanding patron needs and resource usage in the networked academy
4th International Evidence Based Library & Information Practice Conference (2007)
  • Win Shih

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to better understand various aspects of patrons’ access to library’s electronic resources and services via its Web site, their motivation, and the resources they used.

Brief Description: As library resources and services continue to evolve rapidly and ever-more-sophisticatedly along technological vectors, the imperative persists for librarians to develop an innovative, systemic methodology for fathoming the effectiveness in meeting the demands and necessities of our less-visible, yet omnipresent and “omni-diverse” patrons, as well as for promoting efficient resource management and capacity planning.

Methods: Traditional, web-transactional log analyses possess a raft of merits, including unobtrusive and automatic logging, minimal overhead costs, and relatively simple data analysis procedures. However, such transaction logs cannot provide important user demographic data (e.g., metrics such as “academic status – faculty/student/staff,” “departmental affiliation,” et. al.), let alone the patron’s purpose (psychographic data) for utilizing a library’s resources in the first place (i.e., “teaching,” “research,” “course work,” “patient care,” and so forth); nor why a specific resource is being selected. These types of much-more-specific information have the potential to assist libraries in infinitely more useful ways for better understanding their patrons, a patron’s information-seeking behavior, and the multifaceted interrelationship between patrons’ academic disciplines and the library resources and facilities available to assist them.

In 2006, Denison Memorial Library of the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center ( conducted a year-long, library-usage study to better understand patron information needs and their information-seeking behaviors. Based on the Association of Research Libraries’ “MINES for Libraries” methodology, we asked patrons visiting our web portal to complete a brief, single-page online survey before they connected to their destination URL. In addition to resources consulted or chosen by patrons, data was collected on demographics, current locale of connectivity, along with “purpose of library portal utilization.” Combined with unobtrusive web-access logging and vendor supplied usage statistics, we are able to employ this valid statistical and factual evidence for collection development, resource allocation, budget and funding requests, system performance, and IT capacity planning.

Results/Outcome: Our presentation therefore will provide findings of our study, its implications, combined with comparisons and contrasts to the results from web transaction log analyses and statistics garnered by Serials Solutions, our E-journal portal vendor. Most critically, such exercise offers the opportunity to assimilate evidence-based information practice and knowledge management skills into our daily operation.

  • Website use study,
  • MINES for Libraries,
  • Assessment
Publication Date
Citation Information
Win Shih. "Understanding patron needs and resource usage in the networked academy" 4th International Evidence Based Library & Information Practice Conference (2007)
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