According to Dr. Eileen Schroeder (UW-Whitewater, Fall
2003). Use centered techniques focus on who uses a collection and
how often the collection it is used. Circulation statistics and user
perceptions are the basis of use-centered techniques used in most school
library media centers.
Circulation Studies. Automated
circulation systems facilitate collecting circulation statistics, most
able to list number of uses by call number groupings. They could be
used to collect data in specific subject areas after a classroom unit
that utilized library resources. This method is heavily used in public
libraries. Automated systems allow library media specialists to look
at groups of materials or circulation patterns of groups of users
without identifying individual users. These statistics show the match
of expressed needs of active users with materials available on
shelves. It is often useful to compare the percentage circulated in
call number to the percentage inventoried in that number. They can be
useful in making duplication and discard decision. Although easy to
collect, circulation statistics are limited in what they show. They do
not show 1)needs of those who choose not to come to library or who
can't find what they want, or 2) the many items used but not
Collecting the Data: Templates and Resources for the School Library
Media Specialist provides templates for recording circulation and
usage data to use in reports.
User Surveys. Teachers, students,
and other users can be polled to find out whether, how much, in what
way, or why they use library as well as why they don't use it. It is
important to include both users and nonusers. Questionnaires or
interviews are the most common data collection methods. As useful as
they might be, user surveys are difficult to carry off: developing
meaningful questions, identifying
Document Delivery and Interlibrary Loan.
No longer can we just evaluate what is on shelves. Speed of delivery
of needed resources is the measure usually taken. Often a library
media specialist will do a test based on typical requests. As most
school assignments require quick response times, interlibrary loan and
document delivery are often not major considerations.
Citation Studies. This method is
relatively uncommon in schools but could provide a snapshot of what
students are using for specific assignments by counting the number of
times an item is mentioned in the bibliographies of student products.
This is slightly different from the comparison to the Evans'
description of comparison of a collection to bibliographies of
Electronic Access. Access to
electronic resources are often the most difficult to evaluate. Some
databases or vendors such as Badgerlink have electronic means to track
how often their databases are accessed from a series of IP addresses.
This is useful to track in-school use, but generally does not track
student access from home. If the database is locally mounted and
requires authentication to use from off-site, there is the opportunity
to track this use. Other Internet resources are not as easily tracked,
nor do these methods measure how useful these items are to users. The
library's web page can contain a counter to track use, but this does
not indicate which specific resources are used. At this point, it is
not easy to judge how much of what students use is on the Internet or
how useful what they find is for their information needs.
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