We’re being inundated with data. That’s what we’re told, right? We hear all the time how many exabytes of new data are being created every day. There’s just one problem: maybe none of it is the data we actually need.
I recently had the opportunity, along with several of my OCLC colleagues, to attend the Electronic Resources and Libraries (ER&L) Conference. I’ve been going to this great conference for the last two years, and each year it offers a really valuable look into how libraries manage e-resources. This year, several topics across multiple presentations led me to the conclusion that actionable data is actually pretty hard to find and even harder to wrangle successfully.You will never “have it all”
An important element of any successful data analysis strategy is to first realize that you’ll never have all of the data you need. At some point, you have to take what you’ve got, come to some conclusions and move on. But we should also be looking for ways to start by collecting data that is more actionable from the get-go.
As I thought through the ER&L presentations and listened to librarians talk about their “wish lists” for data, I found that three themes seemed to resonate around this idea of “good data” as opposed to “more data.”
If you’re not planning on making changes based on the data you’re collecting and analyzing, just stop. I heard from folks who’d been collecting all kinds of statistics that, at the end of the day, weren’t useful in terms of supporting actual strategy or tactics.
What changes are you willing to make based on how you analyze data?
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The exact opposite of that is the demand-driven acquisition (DDA) and evidence-based acquisition (EBA) models, which we heard quite a lot about at ER&L. In these programs, libraries partner with publishers to make e-resources available for purchase or access after crossing some usage threshold. It’s a great example of using just-in-time data to make specific collection development decisions.2. Be an anthropologist, not a number cruncher
In the absence of readily available (or useful) data, it seems that more libraries are investing in user surveys and usability tests, especially involving students. Librarians from CUNY spoke about watching their student testers locate an electronic article on a specific topic. The staff watched where the students navigated online, what they typed into search boxes and how they sorted results.
Some libraries, like Montana State University, are working to optimize their e-resources for search engines and social media. Their Open SESMO project incorporates linked data terms and social media-friendly images into e-resource records to help online information seekers find their resources. The “data” in this case is based on observations of students in order for the library to “be in the right place at the right time.”
Smart, simple glimpses into the “life of the user” can inform your strategy as much as pages of gate stats.3. All together now
Most librarians I talked to are trying to manage whatever data they can collect in Excel, which has limitations. Library staff who want to engage in data-driven collection development are still sometimes forced to make guesses about what their users want or compare “apples and oranges” when data comes in different formats from different sources.
This is where a conference like ER&L really helps. When we can get together and agree on formats and standards that work well, we can develop better, shared tools for analysis and implementation. For example, when vendors and publishers use COUNTER-compliant statistics, libraries can compare data from across multiple sources much more easily. Some folks I spoke with were a bit frustrated that they weren’t able to get COUNTER reports for streaming video services.
Using data standards also allows us to do wider-ranging, even global analysis and research. It’s handy for any one library to have access to standardized reports. But when thousands of libraries get together?Data is a means, not the end
Collectively—when we are thoughtful about how and why we collect and share data—libraries can make an impact not just on their own institutions, but across the entire information landscape. The trick is to always think of data in terms of what it can do for us, not just what we need to do to get more.
Two weeks ago, Mary Meeker presented her annual, highly anticipated internet trends report, complete with a deck of 355 slides. We have posted about the Meeker report before and will focus this time on only one of the items we found interesting: Twenty percent of mobile queries were made via voice in 2016. (A summary of the entire Meeker report can be found at Recode.) As you might expect, with a shift from typing to voice search, 70% of these queries are formatted in natural language rather than simple keywords (slide 46). And of course, increasingly popular digital assistant devices like the Amazon Echo and the Google Home (“smart speakers”) can only do voice searches and expect natural language. So here’s our question: Will the day come when we will be using a smartphone or a smart speaker to do a voice search of a library catalog? We don’t have a good answer to that question.
Articles from Ohio Web Library:
What kind of citizenship do we offer our students?
Three hundred and fifty years after his birth, the work of Irish satirist Jonathan Swift continues to enjoy great popularity among contemporary readers. Library data tells us that Swift is the most popular Irish author, and the work for which he is best known, Gulliver’s Travels, is the most popular work by an Irish author, in world literature.
“Gulliver’s Travels belongs not just to Irish literature, but to world literature and its relevance only increases over time,” said Dr. Aileen Douglas, Head of the School of English at Trinity College Dublin, in the Irish Times last week. Dublin is marking the 350th anniversary of Swift’s birth with its Swift350 celebration throughout 2017.
Swift, who was born in Dublin in 1667, published Gulliver’s Travels in 1726. The work is now held by more than 40,000 libraries worldwide. Overall, Swift’s works account for nearly 240,000 library holdings worldwide.
Rounding out the top five most popular works by an Irish author are Dracula by Bram Stoker; The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith; The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde; and Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. Oscar Wilde, Eve Bunting, George Bernard Shaw and Oliver Goldsmith follow Swift in the ranking of the top five most popular Irish authors.
Our research also revealed that Eoin Colfer is the most popular contemporary Irish author, and that Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks is the most popular Irish musical work.
These findings are derived from WorldCat, a union database of the catalogs of thousands of libraries around the world. We define popularity in terms of library holdings—the number of appearances by an author or work in library collections worldwide. These library collections are where world literature is stewarded and defined.
The findings on Irish authors are part of OCLC Research’s continuing work exploring cultural patterns and trends through library bibliographic and holdings data. Published materials are an important way countries project their cultural, intellectual, literary and musical traditions.
OCLC Research has developed methods for identifying a national presence in the published record, encompassing materials that are published in, are authored by people from, and/or are about a particular country. Earlier studies have applied these methods to Scotland and New Zealand.
The next study, focused on Ireland, will be released later this year. Lorcan Dempsey, OCLC Chief Strategist and Vice President, Membership and Research, presented preliminary findings from the Irish study at the recent CONUL annual conference in Athlone, Ireland. CONUL is a consortium of Ireland’s main research libraries.
These studies reveal the importance of library data, not just as organizational tools to track and find library resources, but also as a research resource that can be studied and analyzed in the aggregate—as the collective collection of the world’s libraries.
Dublin’s Swift350 celebration includes special exhibits at the Library of Trinity College Dublin and the Dublin City Public Libraries. An international conference this week, June 7–9, 2017 at Trinity College Dublin, focuses on Swift and his work.
The post Gulliver’s Travels – the most popular Irish work by the most popular Irish author in world literature appeared first on OCLC Next.
Facial recognition technology is coming to an airport near you. While this may seem like we’re now living in the future, this technology already exists in Google Photos, and it’s being implemented by a new security camera from Nest. It’s beginning to hit the mainstream. Will library cards be replaced with facial recognition software? At the rates things are going, we may likely see that in our lifetime.
From the Ohio Web Library:
Some thoughts on the role information plays in the response to recent attacks.
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