Five data analytics questions to help secure—or increase—your e-resource budget

5 questions

By Justin Parker, Subscriptions Manager, University of Manchester Library, and
Tim O’Neill, Electronic Resources Coordinator, University of Manchester Library

As Subscriptions Manager and Electronic Resources Coordinator at the University of Manchester, part of our jobs is to make sure the university gets the best deal on its e-resource investment. But what does “best deal” really mean? Does it mean the least expensive materials? Well, an inexpensive subscription isn’t a good deal if it isn’t used at all. And even free, open source content has a cost associated with the cataloging, discovery, and course management systems we use to make it available.

The challenge is to find better ways to assess the value our students, teachers, and researchers gain from the e-resources we provide. And the end result should be a better plan for accurately conveying the importance of library collections within the larger goals of the institution. But how do you get there? Having spent some time recently tracing the pathways of e-resource usage, we have a few suggestions.

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How a network of data curators can unlock the tremendous reuse value of research data

Lisa R. Johnston

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Data reuse is a major focus for institutional research groups and their funders and it’s easy to see why. After the (often) expensive process of collecting, analyzing, and mining research data for valuable new knowledge, any additional attention, such as the publication, reference, or reuse of that data, multiplies its value.

But understanding researchers’ behaviors and needs when it comes to data sharing and reuse is challenging. Each discipline has unique norms and practices for how they collect and manage data, when (and if) they share their data, and how they determine a dataset’s fitness for reuse. Data curators—as information science practitioners—make a wealth of decisions and take well-informed actions to ensure that selected data have meaningful and enduring value to future research.

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Making friends and influencing people: research support edition

Brian Lavoie

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Research support services are essential to the university’s research enterprise—enhancing researcher productivity, facilitating analysis of research activity, and making research outputs visible and accessible across the scholarly community and beyond. Research support services extend over the entire research life cycle—as well as across the entire campus.

How is research support carried out?

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An insider’s look at “Project Passage” in seven linked data lessons, six constants, five changes … and four webcomics

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Imagine your favorite musicians from throughout all of human history (paging Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley!) getting together in the same room. Together, they are free-flowing and improving melodies on top of chord progressions with beautiful and surprising results. The tune is familiar enough to tap your foot along but multilayered enough to be different and completely thrilling.

Being a part of the Project Passage experience was exactly this. Project Passage was an “OCLC and Friends” metadata jam session. (“OCLC and Friends” would make a great band name, am I right?) At the conclusion of the Project Passage experience, I was convinced that linked data and libraries have a bright future together.

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Top 10 OCLC Next Posts of 2019

Andy Havens

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It’s always interesting to see what posts our readers enjoy and share the most. And as for so many other publications, the beginning of a new year seems like a great time to review a “top 10” list. What follow are our most-viewed posts from 2019, in reverse ranked order. As always, interlibrary loan topics are very well appreciated by our readers, followed closely by metadata and change management … along with some unique additions.

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What’s the magic formula for successful change? Communication + planning

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Tyler is passionate about helping libraries turn change into opportunity, and as Director of OCLC Implementation, he supports libraries through diverse transformations, including everything from workflow analysis to library technology implementations.

Depending on who you ask and where you look, change management has any number of important components. However, I’ve found that the actual process of initiating change often falls into two key buckets: planning and communication. Planning is critical, of course, but how, when, and what is communicated can make or break a change initiative. In fact, communication often leads to feedback that helps refine plans, making it even more powerful.

Unfortunately, communication can be an afterthought or initiated only when a change effort is at risk. Sometimes it’s just words on a page explaining the plan. It shouldn’t be, it’s so much more, and can have long-term negative consequences if overlooked or undervalued. Successful change initiatives are communicated like an internal public relations campaign. Every aspect should be orchestrated to increase awareness and buy-in.

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The OCLC Global Council survey on discovery and fulfillment: an important baseline

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How do library users navigate their paths from an initial point-of-need to the final moment of getting the resources they require? That process can be as fast as a single search and one click, or it can encompass many stops and starts, false trails, frustrations, and wrong turns … as I think we, as information professionals, can testify from our own research efforts.

Understanding and improving those journeys is among the most important work we do.

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Let’s cook up some metadata consistency

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Let’s say you’re writing a cookbook and describing ingredients. For sure you’re going to want to be consistent from one recipe to the next. If you don’t want to confuse your readers, it’s good not to refer to one amount as “a pinch” in one recipe and “a dollop” or “a smidge” in another.

Then you look around and realize that other people are writing cookbooks and they have some standards. That’s not a pinch, to them; it’s a teaspoon to some or 5 milliliters to others. What you call a “chunk” everybody else calls “a quarter cup” or “32 grams.” So, you need to be consistent not just within your own cookbook, but with others’ cookbooks, regardless of the dish being prepared—roasts, stir fries, desserts, soups, etc.

Librarians and archivists in data repositories are learning to think like this as well. Because the data being deposited for reuse has much greater value to their institutions when the metadata attached to it are consistent at the study level, the data level, and the file level.

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2 miles or 10,000 miles—ILL makes us one library

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Recently, the interlibrary loan (ILL) staff at the Loyola Notre Dame Library (LOY) tracked the locations around the world from which they borrow and lend library materials. The exercise was prompted by a student who, after being shown ILL by staff members Kate Strain and Zach Gahs-Buccheri, asked, “What’s the farthest library that you’ve gotten an item from?”

Turns out the answer was the Dalton McCaughey Library at the University of Melbourne in Australia, which is 10,038 miles from LOY in Baltimore, Maryland, US.

What a great example of how ILL makes us one big library with endless shelves. No library can possibly have on hand every item it needs. For that we rely on the resource sharing communities we build. In fact, some libraries keep things in their collections to circulate primarily via ILL rather than locally. That’s the commitment they have to sharing resources.

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Public libraries generate social capital that can save lives

Chris Cyr, Ph.D.

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When disaster strikes, libraries are there to help. In California, where many have been forced from their homes due to forest fires and power outages, libraries like Folsom Public Library have become a refuge for people who need to charge devices, use WiFi, or just have a place to go. In March of 2011, a powerful earthquake triggered enormous tsunami waves in the Tōhoku region of Japan, killing thousands of people, driving hundreds of thousands from their homes, and leaving millions without electricity and water service. In the months after this horrific disaster, as hundreds of government services, NGOs, and private and international relief agencies struggled to help communities recover, residents also looked to public libraries for help.

Why is that? Libraries don’t provide food, water, electricity, or medical services. In many cases, libraries had suffered the same catastrophic losses as their neighbors; staff had perished or been injured, buildings completely destroyed or unusable, resources gutted. Why, then, did people so quickly turn to libraries after a disaster? Because of social capital.

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