The Seattle Public Library uses Google Analytics to shape their CONTENTdm collections

With OCLC’s CONTENTdm, libraries can increase the visibility of their digital collections and allow them to be more discoverable. CONTENTdm enables the storage, editing and display of digital collections, making them accessible on any type of device for searchers worldwide.

The Seattle Public Library has used CONTENTdm to showcase its digital collections since 2008, and has been using Google Analytics to track data about its collections since 2014. CONTENTdm’s integration with Google Analytics enables users to construct detailed reports to do an in-depth analysis of collection usage. The library staff started with Google Analytics because they wanted to make data-informed decisions about their collections, and they wanted to learn how their patrons were using the collections in a number of different ways. They now send the main report of Google Analytics data for their CONTENTdm collections to the library’s administration so they can see what is most impactful.

Jade D’Addario, Digital Projects Librarian, Special Collections for The Seattle Public Library monitors Google Analytics year-round. She looks at the statistics for newly released collections and when collections are highlighted through different avenues of publicity. Jade tracks the number of users who view digital items and if they are new or returning users. She also follows page views and how long patrons spend looking at the collections. Google Analytics allows Jade to track what kind of devices are used to view the collections and how people are referred to the digital collections. Patrons may be directed to the library’s CONTENTdm collections from the library’s website, social media posts, a Google search or through links on other libraries or archives websites.

By using Google Analytics to track CONTENTdm collection data, The Seattle Public Library maximizes collection usage by viewing a full picture of how patrons interact with their collections. The library can see trends about how people are finding and using their collections and what types of collections are most popular with users. Each year, the library staff analyzes the collections and uses Google Analytics collection data to help determine changes they want to make to collection discoverability and outreach with users. They explore how well searching is working for patrons and if they can make any improvements to make collection navigation easier. Google Analytics also helps the library determine which social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, have been the most successful for collection promotion.

Jade said the most important statistics are the monthly performances of their collections. This shows the activity that is happening with each collection and it helps determine what the library’s goals should be for its CONTENTdm collections. Through this data, the library learned that collections with images, like the George Gulacsik Space Needle Photograph Collection, are very popular, so they make a point to continually focus on adding photographs to CONTENTdm each year. They also learned that collections that pull together a few different kinds of materials like The Pike Place Market Digital Collection are among those with the highest patron views. Library staff plan to do a mixed media collection again this year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Lake Washington Ship Canal.

For those getting started with Google Analytics for their CONTENTdm collections, Jade said, “Look at the report options in Google Analytics and decide what data is most important and will have the most impact for your library.“

Jade also recommends keeping track of the statistics in a way that helps a library keep track of the big picture. She referenced specifically looking at the comparisons between years, showing stats as collections have grown. This makes it simple to plug information into charts and graphs to get a clearer picture of collection activity. For The Seattle Public Library, data from Google Analytics shapes and informs the type of digital collections that staff promote how collections are publicized and how to improve the user experience. It’s a key tool for the library to leverage its CONTENTdm collections in the best possible ways.

Digitized item from Seattle Public Library's collection