v32#1 Moving Forward with Analytics

by | Apr 1, 2020 | 0 comments

by Kathleen McEvoy  (EBSCO Information Services) 

and John McDonald  (EBSCO Information Services) 

In the two years since John McDonald and I started editing a column on analytics and the role they play in the future of libraries, we have had librarians and library vendors weigh in on studies, test cases, and new resources.  These efforts are designed to help libraries better understand their holdings, highlight the value and impact of libraries, and showcase how analytics can promote evidence based decision making. 

With this special issue, we are looking to continue to reveal the data-driven library and provide librarians a window into how their peers are leveraging analytics to adjust collections and services at their libraries.

The first two articles are fascinating case studies on how librarians have analyzed data to make operational changes to their book approval plans.  In the first, Adam Beauchamp at Florida State University describes their process to evaluate monographic ordering by combining a variety of demand-based metrics (ILL, Circ, Resource Sharing) and use of ratios to normalize values across subject groups with vastly different numbers of observations.  In the second article, Jennifer Mezick and Louis Becker from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville share their method to evaluate and revise their approval plan using analytics.  Their approach features the combination of data from the ILS and COUNTER combined with demographic data about overall book publishing to evaluate the appropriate print to eBook ratios for their approval plan.  The differing approaches each offer interesting insight into new methods of collection development.

The next two articles feature a case study and a proof of concept that each evaluate the feasibility and issues related to library learning analytics.  In the first, Russell Michalak and Monica Rysavy at Goldey-Beacom College detail their efforts to collect data and to incorporate learning analytics data into an assessment of their library’s instruction program.  They demonstrate how librarians can use learning analytics to make positive changes in their services that benefit students, while also being sensitive to their privacy and the protection of data.  In the second article, John McDonald and Michael Levine-Clark describe their partnership on a proof of concept to merge library data with student outcomes measures and evaluate the feasibility of a robust production-grade system for library learning analytics.  Their successful PoC showed that, given the right conditions and data sources, librarians can build models of library engagement and student outcomes that show statistically significant results. 

In the final article, Kirsten Kinsley from Florida State University recounts her and her colleagues’ experiences while attempting to build a data warehouse and library learning analytics system at their institution and the subsequent issues around student privacy, data protection, and ethical use of data that arose during that process.  The lessons she and her colleagues learned from that process should add to the issues our profession, especially as librarians at institutions of higher education, need to tackle as library learning analytics develops and evolves as a viable tool for educators to ensure their services make an impact on the community they serve.

Over the next year, our regular column, “Library Analytics: Shaping the Future,” will continue to address the opportunities librarians have to use metrics to move forward toward a future where analytics can help solve the problems libraries face and ensure the future of libraries leverages data to drive decisions.  We’ll also feature publishers and other library service providers who are using analytics to improve workflows, interfaces, and user experiences. Moving forward, Kathleen McEvoy will be stepping down from her day-to-day co-editor duties.  John McDonald will continue to edit the column and welcomes Stephanie Buck, his colleague at EBSCO, who will be working with him and the academic library community to bring more information to Against the Grain readers. 

Stephanie holds a MLS from Simmons College School of Library and Information Science and is now the Open Source Community Liaison and a FOLIO Product Owner at EBSCO Information Services.  She is a previous director of strategic projects at EBSCO, focusing on projects relating to the library community and strategic partnerships and has experience in collection development, reference, research, cataloging, and library instruction across public, academic and special libraries. 

By teaming John and Stephanie as co-editors, we expect to broaden the coverage of analytics into the open source community and continue to highlight librarians whose research is progressing the art and science of analytics in academic libraries and research into understanding our users, our systems, and our profession of librarianship.  

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