Washington, D.C.-The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) has published a white paper on electronic journal usage statistics by Judy Luther, president of the consulting firm Informed Strategies. The report examines why it has been difficult to obtain statistics on electronic journal usage, and reveals librarians' and publishers' concerns with respect to the generation of usage statistics. The paper suggests a context for further discussion between the providers and consumers of electronic journals.
Fewer than half of the publishers of electronic journals currently generate statistics on usage for librarians. The reason is not a simple matter of publishers being unwilling to provide such information, even though some complain that implementing a data collection function is costly and others fear that librarians will cancel subscriptions if usage is low. A more basic problem is that there is no agreement on how to produce data that can be compared and analyzed. It has been difficult for librarians to know what to ask for when something as basic as the term "use" can have many meanings. Librarians and publishers must work together in solving the problem.
The white paper reveals that publishers and librarians share a significant number of concerns besides a lack of comparable or complete usage data. They worry about the lack of context for understanding data, the lack of certainty about effective economic models, and the complexity of issues related to user privacy.
According to the report, publishers who have begun to supply librarians with the needed data have not found that librarians are canceling subscriptions. In fact, publishers who have developed the capability to collect and analyze statistics for libraries are using this capability to create data for their own applications.
The author notes that, currently, "associations involved in creating standards and guidelines on data collection are focused on defining the data elements and determining what is currently being done. No one is working directly with the publishers who have developed the data, understand the variables, and are in a position to provide guidance." Because it is a period of discovery for both librarians and publishers, the author recommends that a forum be held at which invited representatives from the publisher, vendor, and library communities could advance the dialog about generating data that can be compared.
The White Paper on Electronic Journal Usage Statistics is available on CLIR' s Web site, www.clir.org. Print copies may also be ordered for $15 through the Web site.
The Council on Library and Information Resources works in partnership with libraries, archives, and other information providers to advocate collaborative approaches to preserving the nation's intellectual heritage and strengthening the many components of its information system. It works to support institutions as they integrate audiovisual and digital resources and services into their well-established, print-based environments.