Services & Policies - Fall 1999

Journal Use Study Concluded

Library Collection Development seeks to provide users with the materials they need to support the curriculum at the University of Scranton. For books, selection is based on reviews, the reputation of the author and/or publisher and extent to which the existing collection supports users' needs. How well books have been selected can be assessed by looking at the circulation for each book, comparing our holdings to authoritative bibliographies such as Books for College libraries or recommended reading lists or looking at interlibrary loan transactions to see when students need to go outside the collection for specific titles or subject areas. For journals, the assessment of how well titles have been selected has been largely a matter of opinion without any concrete data to back up these impressions. To remedy this situation, from June 1 to May 31, 1999, the Library conducted a Journal Use Study. Each time a current issue, bound volume or microfilm reel was used, that use was tallied. A total of 25,003 uses were counted. For each title, use was divided into the cost of the subscription to arrive at a cost-per-use. Thus, an expensive title that is heavily used may have a low cost per use while a title with a low subscription cost that is only used once may be costly per use.
Each August, renewal lists are sent to the academic departments for them to determine which titles they will renew, cancel or add. The Journal Access Subcommittee of the Library Advisory Committee had designed a form that looked at where the title is indexed, whether other local libraries held the title, cost. and use by students and by faculty. With the data from the journal Use Study, faculty can now make an informed assessment. To make this information more meaningful, additional information has been added to the chart. Availability and cost for document delivery via UnCover, a current awareness/document delivery database may influence a decision to cancel a high cost-per-use title in favor of having the article delivered at a lower cost. The Weinberg Memorial Library also has approximately 2000 full-text journals available through various databases. IDEAL, Academic Press journals, and Project Muse, Johns Hopkins titles, are archived electronically. This means that for those databases, the Library can link a user to the full-text of a journal article cited in another database such as Psychlnfo. Use statistics for Project Muse indicate that this version of journals is used more frequently than print issues. In addition, subscriptions to electronic databases provide additional titles that the Library may not hold in print and twenty-four hour access from campus or home.
The Journal Use Study data provides fascinating information: which are the most frequently used titles, which are not used at all, which are used more frequently in electronic format. This information will enable the Library and academic department's to develop the collection to spend acquisitions dollars wisely, support the curriculum and prove users with the information they need.
The database for the analysis of use was constructed by Margaret Craft, Assistant Director for Public Services. Use was counted by Access Services under the supervision of Carol Petrunich and the Serials Department led by Jane Wang, The journal Use Study Project. was designed by a subcommittee of the Library Advisory Committee.
Bonnie Strohl
Pride, Passion, Promise: Experience Our Jesuit Tradition