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Report Examines Challenges to Assessing Use of Online Collections and Services

subject: assessment
library assessment
digital library assessment
online collections
DLF libraries
Digital Library Federation

CLIR Press Release


For Immediate Release: January 31, 2002

Contact: Daniel Greenstein 202-939-4762

Report Examines Challenges to Assessing Use of Online Collections and Services

WASHINGTON, D.C.– As the needs and expectations of library users change in the digital environment, libraries are trying to find the best ways to define their user communities, understand what they value, and evolve digital library collections and services to meet their demands.

To learn from the experiences of leading digital libraries that are assessing the use and usability of online collections and services, the Digital Library Federation (DLF) undertook a survey of its members. Denise Troll Covey, associate university librarian of arts, archives, and technology at Carnegie Mellon University, conducted the survey in 2000-2001, during her tenure as DLF distinguished fellow. Her report, Usage and Usability Assessment: Library Practices and Concerns, provides a detailed picture of the assessment practices and concerns of 24 DLF member libraries.

The report identifies the significant challenges that libraries face in assessing use. It describes libraries’ experiences using popular methods to conduct user studies, such as surveys, focus groups, user protocols, and transaction log analysis, and highlights the advantages and disadvantages of each. Covey devotes one section to general issues and challenges in conducting research, including sampling and recruiting representative research subjects, getting Institutional Review Board approval to conduct research with human subjects, and preserving user privacy. The work concludes with a summary and an agenda for future discussion and research. An extensive bibliography is included in the report.

Usage and Usability Assessment: Library Practices and Concerns

is available on CLIR’s Web site at Print copies will soon be available for ordering through the Web site.

The Digital Library Federation is a nonprofit consortium of libraries and related organizations that are pioneering the use of electronic-information technology to extend collections and services. It operates under the umbrella of the Council on Library and Information Resources, which acts on behalf of libraries, archives, and universities to develop and encourage collaborative strategies for preserving and providing access to scholarly resources.

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