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Keeping up on professional reading: the Use Statistics edition!

Our crew’s professional reading today was the proposed user metrics document created by a SAA and ACRL/RBMS* joint task force.

Sound boring? It’s not at all! And it’s incredibly important work because in the end, pretty much everything archives do is about our users. User statistics help us serve our users better, mostly through driving our description and digitization priorities but even when a researcher calls up and asks when a good time to pay an in-person visit might be. But we also include them in reports to prove to our resource allocators that we’re doing good work with what they give us! And that also helps us serve our users better, come to think of it. Also there’s not a lot of standardization across archival repositories that would allow for national comparison (or even internal comparison, for that matter) on what know about use of our holdings (some places don’t even collate user information.) So the task force is trying to come up with some standardized language and metrics for what institutions might gather in terms of use data.

We document a lot of user stats around here (last year’s partial report) so we compared it to what we’re currently doing in terms of use statistics and took lots of notes on what changes we might consider and how we might achieve that within our current tracking system. Turns out we’re actually doing a lot of this already and in some areas a lot more. But there’s always room for improvement so we had a great discussion about what modifications we might implement in our database and how some data might or might not be of use to us.

Turns out we also have lots of comments for the task force and will be forwarding those shortly. If you’re interested in providing comments, those are due to the task force by August 22.

*Since we’re not a fan of acronym salad around here, SAA=Society of American Archivists, ACRL/RBMS is the Association of College & Research Libraries’ Rare Books and Manuscripts Section.

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