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Use-Centered

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.

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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 circulated. Collecting the Data: Templates and Resources for the School Library Media Specialist provides templates for recording circulation and usage data to use in reports.

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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

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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.

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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 research publications.

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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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