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RE: Online journal statistics

I'm not sure I believe that publishers are deliberately keeping electronic
usage information from librarians to keep us from making informed
decisions that will adversely affect their profits. But I think this
discussion illustrates the lack of trust and lack of understanding on both
sides. Culling and manipulating statistics can be resource intensive, and
some publishers I've talked to don't really believe that librarians will
use the statistics after all their work of providing them. In the past,
even the recent past, that might have been true in most cases. Providing
access to electronic journals is resource intensive for the library, and
it seems to me that we are just getting to the point where we can start
analyzing the results of what we've been doing, and we really do need
those statistics. In some cases, we can use them to increase or maintain
our funding, or to justify shifting funds. They can also help us target
our instruction and outreach efforts.

Another area where librarians may need to do more communication with
publishers is to help them understand how important it is for us to be
able to integrate their journals into our systems, to have
subject-specific browsing lists of all our journals, to provide access
through our online catalogs, to have links from our databases, to have
search engines that will search everything. Directing users to individual
publishers' sites may be an intermediate step that some of us take while
we are developing our integrated systems, but access to journals by
publisher isn't what our users want, even if the library has huge packages
of them. So we would rather have their efforts go into reporting
statistics than into refining their Web sites. And if they make it easy
for us to integrate their journals by cooperating with database providers,
adhering to standards that facilitate linking, and allowing local loading
of content and electronic reserves, the usage numbers will go up.

Donnie Curtis
Director of Research Services
University of Nevada, Reno, Library