Academic Libraries: Electronic Resource Usage Soars From Off-Campus Locations According to the Latest MINES for Libraries Study

Posted on December 23, 2011 by

A New Report from the Ontario Council of University Libraries (via an Association Of Research Libraries Announcement):

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is pleased to announce the availability of the final report of a ground-breaking study on the usage of electronic resources: MINES for Libraries: Measuring the Impact of Networked Electronic Services and the Ontario Council of University Libraries’ Scholar Portal, Final Report 2011.

The study summarizes findings on 34,000 randomly captured uses of electronic resources over a 12-month period from the 21 members of the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL). ARL worked collaboratively with OCUL’s Scholars Portal staff to implement a second iteration of the Measuring the Impact of Networked Electronic Services (MINES for Libraries) methodology that captures data on library user demographics, the purpose of use, and the location of the user at point of use when accessing electronic resources and services. The results show the increasing value derived from the use of digital content, and document the emerging use of digital resources in the humanities, and the soaring use of electronic resources from off-campus locations.

The data are currently used by Scholars Portal staff, as well as staff in OCUL institutions, to determine how specific populations apply digital content to their work, identify where library use originates to tailor services accordingly, gather usage data on digital collections to justify funding and inform collection development decisions, and assess the impact of networked electronic resources and services on teaching, learning, and research.

ARL implemented this methodology in collaboration with OCUL in 2004–2005 and again in 2010–2011. The latest summary report focuses on the 2010–2011 findings and provides a description of the major differences between the two implementations.

The full text report, MINES for Libraries: Measuring the Impact of Networked Electronic Services and the Ontario Council of University Libraries’ Scholar Portal, Final Report 2011, is available here (115 pages; PDF).

From the Executive Summary:
  • OCUL institutions through Scholars Portal and additional local electronic resources provide access to an increasing number of electronic resources. Those electronic resources are made available through Ex Libris’ SFX open‐ URL resolver in 2010‐11. SFX, the open‐URL resolver, was an integral component of the 2010‐11 MINES for Libraries implementation at OCUL.
  • As a result the 2010‐11 survey implementations are addressing local needs with customized discipline categories and consortial needs by mapping the local categories to a generalizable discipline schema similar to the one used in 2004‐05. Variations in the SFX delivery mechanism across institutions impose limitations regarding comparisons of the findings across institutions. Last, the SFX implementation in 2010‐11 is sufficiently different from the Scholars Portal implementation for 2004‐05 that care should be used when comparing the findings.
  • The majority of the uses of the Scholars Portal resources are from the medical/health sciences, followed by social science and science (whereas back in 2004‐05 science was the first category).
  • Slightly more than half of the respondents are undergraduates (51.7%), followed by graduate professionals (32.3%), and faculty (8.56%); undergraduate use increased compared to 2004‐05.
  • Most respondents use these resources from off‐campus (68.75%); in 2004‐ 05 it was only 45%.
  • The largest portion of the use of the Scholars Portal resources is for purposes of coursework (56.83%) with sponsored research representing an important second highest category of use (16.75%) but less compared to 2004‐05 when sponsored research represented 26% of uses.