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This study examines the use of web analytics in libraries to understand how this tool can be used to interpret users' behavior on the library's website. Evaluating library and information services is important for library management decision-making regarding the quality of library services. Because such decisions-making is time consuming and requires investment of many resources, libraries are constantly looking for efficient approaches that would provide insights into planning and changes to the library services. The study data consist of reports collected by Google analytics on the University of Missouri's (MU) library website and interactive group interviews with the library's usability committee. The poster presents the preliminary findings and discusses the issues of implementing web analytics in a library setting. The study findings would benefit libraries in understanding how web analytics can be used as an evaluation tool for libraries, especially as an addition to the traditional evaluation tools.
Anindita Paul
ASIST Conference 2009, Poster Sessions,
November 6-11, 2009, Vancouver, BC P a g e | 1
Web Analytics in Library Practice: Exploration of Issues
Anindita Paul
Doctoral Candidate
School of Information Science and Learning Technologies
University of Missouri
In this study the use of web analytics in libraries is examined. The study seeks to understand how
analytics as a tool for libraries would be feasible to interpret users’ behavior on the library’s website.
Evaluating library and information services are important for library decision makers who are constantly
faced with situations where they need to make decisions regarding the quality of services offered by the
libraries. Such decisions need investment and hence adequate support for any such decisions can be
vital in providing insights into planning and changes to the library services. The data was collected on the
University of Missouri’s (MU) library website using Google analytics and an ’interactive group interview’ of
the library’s usability committee. The poster discusses the issues that analytics implementation could face
in a library setting. The study would benefit libraries in understanding how can web analytics be used as
an evaluation tool for libraries especially as an enhancement over the traditional evaluation tools.
Libraries provide an enormous amount of valuable content that gets overlooked due to the
availability of instant access of information through the web. This has prompted libraries to make much of
the content available online in order to retain its patrons. Studies have been conducted to provide libraries
a holistic measure for assessing their services (Nicholson, 2004; Saraf & Mezbah-ul-islam, 2002). These
holistic measures ask libraries to look at the user’s perspective and incorporate these perspectives in the
decision making process. Libraries also face a challenge of dealing with increased knowledge base that
on one hand provides the rigor needed, and on the other hand might be limited to be used across
contexts and cultures (Eldredge, 2006). Nicholson (2006a) states some of the drawbacks of traditional
Evidence Based Librarianship (EBL), which lacks appropriate research articles that librarians can use.
Also, the time taken to collect evidence sometimes results in lesser number of publications and hence
reduces the power of the traditional EBL. Eldredge (2006) acknowledges the drawbacks and hence calls
for certain fair and truthful practices that should be followed to minimize the downsides of traditional EBL.
Evaluating library and information services are important for library decision makers who are
constantly faced with situations where they need to make decisions regarding the quality of services
offered by the libraries. Such decisions need investment and hence adequate support for any such
decisions can be vital in providing insights into planning and changes to the library services. Libraries
have numerous constraints that they need to deal with in the planning process. In such a scenario, library
decision makers need to rely on information gained from evaluation process and have to constantly weigh
between the services, resources, and overall effectivity of libraries (Hernon & McClure, 1990, p.1).
Hernon & McClure (1990, p. 235) talks about the need for library managers to rely on empirical evidence.
They also mention that managers prefer “intuitive” or “seat-of-the-pants” decision making that would not
require them to spend time to obtain “evaluative data on a particular issue or decision problem (p.235).
Web analytics provides a way to constantly capture the online actions of the visitors of a website
by measuring visitor traffic (Khoo et al., 2008) hence providing information about users’ navigation
behavior, user and page clusters, as well as possible correlations between web pages and user groups
(Eirinaki and Vazirgiannis, 2003). The web analytics packages available today provide increased
functionality by providing data in a visual format that helps in understanding the online visitors behavior
on a particular website (Tyler and Ledford, 2006, p.7; Eirinaki and Vazirgiannis, 2003). Use of web
analytics as a tool has been recognized in businesses that seek to improve their internal as well as
marketing productivity through an understanding of the user (Jacoby and Luqi, 2007; Sen et al., 2006;
Srinivasan et al., 2004). Libraries have a different motivation compared to e-commerce websites.
Libraries and e-commerce websites both want to provide services to the users, or enable the users to
Anindita Paul
ASIST Conference 2009, Poster Sessions,
November 6-11, 2009, Vancouver, BC P a g e | 2
fulfill the intended task seamlessly however the goals of a library vary from that of the ecommerce
websites in terms of their expectations from the visiting users.
The study was undertaken as a part of a larger study that investigated the use of web analytics in
understanding users’ online behavior in a library setting. The data was collected on the University of
Missouri’s (MU) library website using Google analytics and an ’interactive group interview’ (Patton, 2001)
of the library’s usability committee. Google analytics is a free tool provided by Google, and was
implemented on the MU library website on March 2007. The objective of this poster is to present the
issues of implementing analytics in libraries for the purposes of decision making. Six members of the
library’s web advisory committee were interviewed in the interactive group interview. A preliminary
analysis was done of the Google analytics reports of the library and the results were presented to the six
members of the library’s advisory committee. The presentation was a prop to get feedback from the
library committee about the use and benefits of their Google analytics implementation and the possible
direct and indirect consequences of such an implementation.
The analysis for this study is ongoing. However, some of the interim issues that were found involved
those that were directly related to the aspects of the website such as content or design, navigation,
services offered, search-ability of information; some other issues related to the interpretation of the web
analytics package used when seen in a library setting. Librarians also showed interest to know more
about their users’ behavior even if that information would not support any management decision. An
important finding is that web analytics as a tool for libraries need to be reassessed in terms of the
definition of the metrics and its interpretation in a library context. Further analysis will provide specific
details of the different issues that librarians would like to know under each of the broader categories of
content, navigation, services offered etc.
Eirinaki, M. & Vazirgiannis, M. (2003, February). Web mining for Web personalization. ACM Transactions
on Internet Technology, 3(1), 1-27.
Eldredge, J. (2006). Evidence-based librarianship: The EBL process. Library Hi Tech 24(3), 341-354.
Hernon, P., & McClure, C. (1990). Evaluation and library decision making. Norwood,NJ: Ablex Publishing
Jacoby, G. A. & Luqi (2007, February). Intranet model and metrics: Measuring intranet overall value
contributions based on a corporation’s critical business requirements. Communications of the
ACM, 50(2), 43- 50.
Khoo, M., Pagano, J., Washington, A.L., Recker, M., Palmer, B., and Donahue, R. A. Using web metrics
to analyze digital libraries. International Conference on Digital Libraries. Proceedings of the 8
ACM/IEEE-CS joint conference on Digital Libraries, 375-384.
Nicholson, S. (2004). A conceptual framework for the holistic measurement and cumulative evaluation of
library services. Proceedings of the 67
ASIS&T Annual Meeting, 41, 496-506.
Nicholson, S. (2006a). Approaching librarianship from the data: Using Bibliomining for evidence-based
librarianship. Library Hi-Tech 24(3). 369-375
Patton, M. Q. (Ed.). (2001). Qualitative Research & Evaluation Methods (3rd ed.). USA: Sage
Publications, Inc.
Saraf, V. & Mezbah-ul-Islam, M. (2002). Measuring library effectiveness: A holistic approach. Journal of
Library and Information Science 27 (2), 81-105.
Sen, A., Dacin, P. A. & Pattichis, C. (2006, November). Current trends in Web data analysis.
Communications of the ACM, 49 (11), 85-91
Srinivasan, S., Amir, A., Deshpande, P. & Zbarsky, V. (2004). Grammar-based task analysis of Web logs.
Proceedings of the thirteenth ACM international conference on information and knowledge
management, 244-245. NY: ACM Press.
A key premise of open government data (OGD) policies is enhanced engagement between government and the public. However, it is not well understood who the users of OGD are, how to tailor OGD content, and which communities to target for outreach. We examined users' engagement with Health Data NY, New York's health oriented OGD portal, to understand user characteristics associated with increased site engagement. We used Google Analytics data to classify four site engagement metrics into high versus low engagement and used logistic regression to test associations between higher site engagement and gender, age group, device type, and consumer interest. We found that being in a younger age bracket, male, a desktop user, and a Technophile are associated with higher engagement. The findings contribute to further understanding OGD initiatives and consumer health information behavior. More broadly, we demonstrate how OGD managers can leverage their web analytics data to understand which users are most engaged, thereby enabling them to better target their content.
The libraries’ web-outposts open up new opportunities, enable libraries to interact efficiently with their users and to promote their information products in the virtual space. The systematic assessment is integral to high performance of libraries’ web-divisions. The author explores the intensity of applying evaluation methods to the libraries’ web-sites. She examines the current state and popular trends in libraries’ representation in the virtual space using the relevant methods of web-analytics. The findings of the 2019 survey “Modern trends in the development of library resources in the web space”, comprising 387 Russian and foreign libraries of various organizational and legal status, are discussed. Particular attention is paid to the presence of libraries in the web space and resource management using web-analytic instruments. Based on her research findings, the author concludes that the major accomplishment for the libraries today is the very fact of their presence in the web space in the form of official websites and accounts in social media. Though the respondents confirmed that they used web-based analytical tools to evaluate their own web-based representation, the survey demonstrates that just a small part of the analytical tools potentiality is actually used.
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Purpose – The purpose of this work is to present an alternative way of considering evidence‐based librarianship (EBL) through an examination of the data that makes up studies used for EBL. Design/methodology/approach – This piece starts with the standard evidence‐based librarianship definition and deconstructs it down to the level of the individual user, and that data is considered in a different context. Findings – The bibliomining process, or the combination of data warehousing, data mining, and bibliometrics, is used as a framework to build a different path to EBL. Bibliomining‐based evidence‐based librarianship is not appropriate for all topics; however, when the artifacts of library use can be gathered and explored, this method can provide a different path to reach the goals of EBL. Originality/value – As the quantity of studies needed for traditional EBL are not currently available, this alternate method provides a way to achieve the goals of EBL through data already in the library systems.
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The daily use of Internet-based services is involved with hundreds of different tasks being performed by multiple users. A single task is typically involved with a sequence of Web URLs invocation. We study the problem of pattern detection in Web logs to identify tasks performed by users, and analyze task trends over time using a grammar-based framework. Our results are demonstrated on a corporate Intranet portal application with 7000 users over a 6 week period and demonstrate compelling business value from this high-level task analysis.
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This paper discusses the use of web metrics tools at four digital libraries, the Instructional Architect, the Library of Congress, the National Science Digital Library, and WGBH Teachers' Domain. We describe some of the issues involved in using web metrics to report on ongoing web site performance. We also describe how web metrics can be used for focused data mining, using session length metrics as our example; and here, we recommend that session length metrics, which were developed to track e-commerce, need to be carefully considered when they are applied in non-e-commerce settings, such as digital libraries. We conclude by discussing some of the current limitations and possibilities of using web metrics to analyze and evaluate digital library use and impact.
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The measurement of the effectiveness of the Intranet portals and overall value contributions based on corporation's critical business requirements is discussed. Efficient model and supporting metrics are required to convert the information into knowledge capital that corporations can increase quickly for competitive advantage. The measurement is required to base on logically related groups of metrics which, when measured periodically, provide actionable steps to optimize the efficiency and effectiveness of Intranet portals. The general purpose of the public portals is to attract a large number of repeat visitors, to build online audiences with the inclination to buy what the portal advertisers are offering. The Intranet portal add sufficient value for its customers to create a sustainable business model. The intranet efficiency and effectiveness model (IEEM) provides derivations for common units of analysis by linking the sets of metrics and conversion ratios to increase value.
The problems related to the use of clickstream data utilization are discussed. Clickstream data many inherent problems that forms the basis for its underutilization. These problems include problems in data, analytical methods used with data, inherent problems in data analysis. Problems in data may be due to incompleteness, large size, or messiness in the data. Clickstream data can be analyzed using web metric-based methodologies, basic marketing metric-based methodologies, navigation-based methodologies, and traffic-based methodologies. Second-generation tools directly measure visitor interactions with Web pages using null server logging by performing browser-based measurements. Summarization of clickstream data across dimensions requires the use of non-additive and semi-additive measures across these dimensions. The size of data poses a problem as the standard analysis tools are not capable of handling such a large size and use sampling methods to process the clickstream data.
Purpose – The paper seeks to describe the EBL process in sufficient detail that the readers can apply it to their own professional practice. Design/methodology/approach – The paper takes the form of a narrative literature review. Findings – The EBL process can be summarized through its five steps: formulate a clearly defined, relevant, and answerable question; search for an answer in both the published and unpublished literature, plus any other authoritative resources, for the best available evidence; critically appraise the evidence; assess the relative value of expected benefits and costs of any decided upon action plan; and evaluate the effectiveness of the action plan. Originality/value – References for readers to pursue more in‐depth research into any particular step or a specific aspect of the EBL process are provided. The EBL process assists librarians in applying the best available evidence to answering the more important questions facing their practice, their institutions, and the profession. This evidence can become the basis for making sound decisions.
This conceptual piece presents a framework to aid libraries in gaining a more thorough and holistic understanding of their users and services. Through a presentation of the history of library evaluation, a measurement matrix is developed that demonstrates the relationship between the topics and perspectives of measurement. These measurements are then combined through evaluation criteria, and then different participants in the library system view those criteria for decision-making. By implementing this framework for holistic measurement and cumulative evaluation, library evaluators can gain a more holistic knowledge of the library system and library administrators can be better informed for their decision-making processes.