The ARL Statistics & Digital Repositories

When reporting collection statistics, how do research libraries treat Institutional Repository (IR) content?  The ARL Statistics annual survey asks libraries to report the number of titles that are discoverable, specifically, “…the total number of titles catalogued and made ready for use”.  However, many special collections and IR materials are available only through the IR environment and not as cataloged titles in the library catalog.  Special collections and IR materials constitute resources of national/international distinction and the breadth and depth of these resources are key indicators tied to the mission of research libraries.  How do we represent these growing collections of IR materials in the ARL Statistics?  We invite libraries to provide their thoughts and suggestions on the following questions:

  • Given the state of development of institutional repositories, is it possible to capture title level counts of institutional repository content in a way that is consistent across internal institutional repositories, and among repositories across institutions?  If so, how may we report and count titles of IR materials?

  • Do we understand what  title-level access is for IR content and whether we can confidently  start capturing  titles across IRs? or in other words, Are there workflows in place to produce title counts for IR materials that libraries are comfortable with?

  • How should libraries count non-text electronic documents, such as photos, videos/audio recordings, musical scores and sheet music, and/or other non-text documents?

  • What about content by individual authors such as articles, PowerPoints, infographics, donations of scholarly papers from distinguished alumnae, class/college papers/projects (i.e. honors colleges, and other classes)? What recommendations should be in place for counting these resources, or not, in the ARL Statistics title count?

In the comments below, please share your experiences, observations, thoughts, policies and practices regarding these important questions. We want to understand what others recommend regarding inclusion of IR titles in the ARL Statistics.  Additionally, for anyone planning to attend the ALA Midwinter Meeting, part of the agenda for the Survey Coordinators and SPEC Liaisons Meeting will be devoted to this topic.  The Survey Coordinators and SPEC Liaisons Meeting is scheduled for Friday, January 8, from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the W Hotel, 100 Stuart Street, Great Room C. 

2 Responses to The ARL Statistics & Digital Repositories

  1. Terri Fishel June 6, 2016 at 8:48 am #

    I submitted a question to the user group for bepress Digital Commons focused on the above questions and was somewhat surprised by the lack of responses. I only received two responses, which either indicates that folks aren’t terribly concerned with counting usage, or the timing of the request was bad. Nevertheless,with the amount of time and staffing that is now required to manage and support IRs, the fact that we don’t have an accurate way of counting what is deposited and how it is used should be of concern. IRs now include papers, oral histories, images, presentation files, student works, faculty works, and joint student/faculty publications and yet we don’t have standards on how to accurately reflect how these resources are being used, so the very first question:
    * Given the state of development of institutional repositories, is it possible to capture title level counts of institutional repository content in a way that is consistent across internal institutional repositories, and among repositories across institutions? If so, how may we report and count titles of IR materials?

    I would have to respond at this point, the answer is “no”, because with all the various types of formats, what is considered “a title”? So currently,in our IR we can identify number of papers and number of downloads and the downloads have been consistently increasing. Is this enough of a measure for the impact of our IR? Is this the best that we can do for managing statistics for IRs across the various systems?

  2. Terri Fishel June 6, 2016 at 9:04 am #

    “Given the state of development of institutional repositories, is it possible to capture title level counts of institutional repository content in a way that is consistent across internal institutional repositories, and among repositories across institutions? If so, how may we report and count titles of IR materials?”

    As asked in the third question, IRs now include so much more than just papers, so first one would need to determine what constitutes a ‘title” because IRs include oral histories, photos, presentations, along with student and faculty works. Currently, about the best we can do is count the number of papers and the number of downloads based on reports from our vendor. Is this sufficient for developing an analysis of trends in managing IRs? It may be the best that can be done, but does it accurately reflect the use of all the content that is available?

    A second challenges seems to be a possible lack of interest in gathering statistics for IRs as after asking the user group of depress DigitalCommons these same questions, only two responses were received. Lack of response to this posting also may be an indicator that gathering statistics for IRs is just a lower priority or else due to a lack of consistent standards. Some libraries report what they think their institutions are interested in knowing, but aren’t looking at it from a perspective of gathering national statistics.

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