Analyzing Demographics: Assessing Library Use Across the Institution

Nackerud, S., Fransen, J., Peterson, K. & Mastel, K. (2013). Analyzing demographics: assessing library use across the institution. portal: Libraries and the Academy (forthcoming). Retrieved from:

This study from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities investigated library service usage by individual undergraduate and graduate students, to determine: whether the library has sufficient means to measure usage for various services; whether a majority of students demonstrably use library services; whether students in different colleges use library materials and services differently; and how undergraduate library use compares to graduate student library use. Usage of the following services was investigated: loans (checkouts and renewals); ILL; digital resources (databases, ejournals, ebooks, etc.); library workstations; course-integrated instruction; Introduction to Library Research workshops; peer research consulting; online reference; and other workshops. In many, but not all cases, students authenticated using university credentials (revealing limitations in current data capture, e.g. with respect to on-campus, IP-authenticated digital resource use, face-to-face reference and some ILL requests). Results indicated that during fall 2011, 77% of undergraduates and 85% of graduate students made use of library services in a measurable way (the authors break these aggregate numbers down by level and college). Conducted by librarians with support from Office of Institutional Research staff, this study inspired its authors to ask new questions, including whether such data can inform collection development, help librarians target marketing to particular user groups, and suggest new ways to gather data and usage statistics, in order to help inform further library improvement.

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