According to the instructions for completing the annul ARL statistics questionnaire, electronic serials acquired as part of an aggregated package (e.g. Project MUSE) should be counted and reported as current subscriptions. Some ARL libraries have started reporting such numbers, while others have not. Some ARL libraries have revised their previously reported numbers due to different or improved count of electronic journals. Currently we add URLs to IRIS records for electronic journals only if they are full-text. After discussion, we decided to ask Systems to do an annual count of all URLs on serials records in IRIS. Since the total number of subscriptions, rather than number of titles, are to be reported to ARL, multiple URLs for the same journal title which exists in more than one databases will all be counted and reported. The committee also discussed the inclusion of e-books as monographic volumes in the ARL statistics. In principle, the committee agreed that, once an e-book is cataloged, it should be reported as a volume added. It should be reported as a volume withdrawn when access to it is discontinued or stopped.
A new CLIR (Council on Library and Information Resources) white paper on electronic journal usage statistics by Judy Luther was discussed. The paper points out that there is no agreement on how to produce data that can be compared and analyzed. Once agreed, it is wise to focus on only a few measures initially. Tom Sanville of OhioLINK notes that of the criteria in the ICOLC (International Coalition of Library Consortia) guidelines which address a variety of databases, the only applicable measure of use of an electronic journal is the number of times an article is viewed, printed, e-mailed, or downloaded. Providing usage data is a new role for publishers and aggregators who often are concerned that the data they do share with librarians lack context and fear that libraries may use such information as a basis for canceling subscriptions. It is important that publishers reach agreement with each other and with libraries about what data are required. Such discussions and agreements could be facilitated by organizations such as CLIR.
The Committee continued its discussion on evaluation of reference services. So that the committee members would have a better understanding of the types of questions being asked on Ask a Librarian, Addie shared with the committee a listing of categories of Ask a Librarian questions which include physical/mechanical access (e.g. proxies, browsers, use of specific programs), library access (e.g. pin, barcode, borrowing categories), overdue, renewal, fines (e.g. claims returned, not on campus, will return when back, did not get notices)interlibrary loans and materials delivery (e.g. renewals, status checks, requested item no longer needed, clear records), ownership and access (e.g. of specific items, of categories of types of materials, location types, access electronic materials, and "reference". A new ALA book, Evaluating Reference Services: a Practical Guide by Jo Bell Whitlatch, suggests that defining the purpose of any study carefully as reference services have so many aspects which could be studied or evaluated. Since no single study or survey will be able to capture information on all aspects, we decided to ask PS Council to indicate which aspects they are primarily interested in before we design a study.
The next Assessment Committee meeting will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 9:30 am.