When we began work on the Library Data and Student Success project, we knew that we'd need to combine the data we collected with demographic and performance data tracked by the Office of Institutional Research (OIR). But even before we matched students with their library use, we were having fun with the numbers.
To recap, we collected U of M Internet IDs from 13 different service and resource areas during the Fall 2011 semester. Each of these 13 datasets has its own set of caveats regarding exactly what we can capture. For example, if a librarian has an instruction session with a particular class, anyone registered for that class is counted as receiving Course-Integrated Librarian Instruction. We have no way of knowing which students were in the room that day, so we're most likely over-counting in that area. On the flip side, reference staff don't typically log the patron's Internet ID in an in-person reference transaction, and the ID is sometimes not included even in an online transaction, so reference interactions are most likely under-counted.
With those caveats in mind, we set about doing what analysis we could while we waited for the OIR analysts to perform their magic. We added each of the 13 datasets to a Microsoft Access database as a table. Each table consisted of a list of Internet IDs. Using just these tables, we were able to determine the answers to questions like these:
- How many individuals interacted with the Libraries in any measurable way?
- How many interactions of each type did each individual have?
- What was the total number of interactions of each type?
- How many different types of interactions did an individual have with the Libraries?
- How many individuals who did one thing (were registered for a course with course-integrated library instruction, for example) also did another (checked out a book)?
These questions were addressed and answered in aggregate, but having the Internet ID in each log allowed us to separate individuals from interactions. Here are some of the tidbits we were able to calculate:
- 61,195 individuals used the Libraries in some measurable way in Fall 2011.
- 10,455 people accessed an e-book, and 21,993 checked out or renewed at least one item.
- 38,328 people used a database, and 30,105 accessed an e-journal.
- 23,807 people used only one of the 13 service and resource areas. 2,774 used six or more.
- 47,197 people used some type of digital resource (database, website, e-journal, or e-book) for a total of 1,110,727 digital interactions.