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OCLC Research and OhioLINK release report and related data to support understanding of book usage patterns in academic libraries

DUBLIN, Ohio, USA, 21 September 2011—OhioLINK and OCLC Research have released a report of, and the data set used in, a joint study of OhioLINK circulation, to better understand the usage patterns of books in academic libraries and support further research in this area. The study, which incorporated usage data from 2007-2008, was limited to books and manuscripts because these materials typically circulate, and circulation is a significant element in evaluating collections.

The report, OhioLINK—OCLC Collection and Circulation Analysis Project 2011, provides an overview of the study, a description of how the data was analyzed and made available, and suggested uses for the data. The report is accompanied online by an extensive set of Excel spreadsheets that analyze the usage patterns observed in the study.

The data used in the report was from a collaborative OCLC-OhioLINK Collection and Circulation Analysis project that joined OhioLINK circulation data with WorldCat bibliographic records to produce a base file of circulation records for nearly 30 million different books. Ninety institutions participated in the study, including 16 universities, 23 community/technical colleges, 50 private colleges and the State Library of Ohio. The size of the combined collection and the number and diversity of participating institutions make this by far the largest and most comprehensive study of academic library circulation ever undertaken.

Perhaps the most fascinating result of the study was a test of the “80/20” rule. Librarians have long espoused the belief that 80 percent of a library’s circulation is driven by approximately 20 percent of the collection. The analysis of a year’s circulation statistics from this study indicates that 80 percent of the circulation is driven by just 6 percent of the collection.

The dataset generated by the project has also been made publicly available under the Open Data Commons Attribution license (an open license) to download for study and research. It is the largest and most diverse set of academic usage data for books ever collected. Because the data analysis described in the report represents only a fraction of what might be done with the data, OhioLINK and OCLC Research made the data publicly available so it could be studied to its full potential and other libraries could correlate it against their own data to determine how it compares with their individual use patterns.

“OhioLINK is happy to have had the opportunity to collaborate with OCLC and our community to learn more about how our resources are used,” said John Magill, Executive Director for OhioLINK.

“On behalf of the OCLC cooperative and OhioLINK, we are pleased to make this data publicly available so that other scholars can study the data and academic libraries can use it as a basis for comparison with their own usage patterns,” said Edward T. O’Neill, Senior Research Scientist, OCLC.

The current OCLC-OhioLINK project team will also continue to study the data.

About OhioLINK

OhioLINK, an initiative of the Ohio Board of Regents, is a consortium of 90 Ohio colleges and university libraries and the State Library of Ohio, working to bring books, articles, electronic resources and digital information to more than 600,000 students, faculty, and staff across the Buckeye State. Users have access to more than 49.5 million library items, 17,000 electronic journals and 140 electronic research databases, available 24/7 through their university libraries or online at www.ohiolink.edu.

About OCLC Research

OCLC Research is one of the world’s leading centers devoted exclusively to the challenges facing libraries in a rapidly changing information technology environment. Its diverse staff of research scientists and program officers investigates trends in technology and library practice to identify technological advances that will enhance the value of library services and improve the productivity of librarians and library users. For more information, visit www.oclc.org/research.

About OCLC

Founded in 1967, OCLC is a nonprofit, membership, computer library service and research organization dedicated to the public purposes of furthering access to the world’s information and reducing library costs. More than 72,000 libraries in 170 countries have used OCLC services to locate, acquire, catalog, lend, preserve and manage library materials. Researchers, students, faculty, scholars, professional librarians and other information seekers use OCLC services to obtain bibliographic, abstract and full-text information when and where they need it. OCLC and its member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the world’s largest online database for discovery of library resources. Search WorldCat on the Web at www.worldcat.org.

OCLC, WorldCat and WorldCat.org are trademarks/service marks of OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. Third-party product, service and business names are trademarks/service marks of their respective owners.

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