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Circulation of Downloadable items

Page history last edited by Kim Miller 8 years, 2 months ago

Original Question (10/18/11):


Juan Tomás Lee (UT)




My thinking on this was clear for about 28 seconds, now I am not sure...


If a library DOES NOT report any items for Audio - downloadable titles or Video - downloadable titles (because these are not accessible through the library's OPAC), do they report the circulation of these items under Total Circulation (definition says all materials, all types for use outside the library)?????


I appreciate your feedback.



SDC Comments:


Scott Dermont (IA)


Yes? My understanding was that libraries could count circulation for items that were not in their catalog. I assumed that applies to downloadable items as well. I sure hope it does, since I’ve been counting things that way for 3 years.



Edie Huffman (IN)


That’s my understanding, too. Circulation and holdings are two very different data elements.



Genny Carter (TN)


We also count the circulation for those downloadables in Tennessee.



Juan Tomás Lee (UT)


I guess I was thinking about the calculation of "turnover rates" later on... Is that a consideration?



Ann Reed (OR)


We mavericks in Oregon count them in collection since libraries paid for durable license, even if they aren’t in the catalog, as long as the patron can search for them somewhere,.



Edie Huffman (IN)


I don’t do turnover rates anymore; too problematic.



John DeBacher


I know there is a certain amount of impetus among the ranks of our state librarians (and considerably more among librarians) to “count everything” to justify our libraries, but I do not think we should be mixing apples and oranges and counting as “circulation” new types of uses that are, quite literally, immaterial. I think the uses should be tallied separately.


I suggested last year that we should consider making distinctions between use of digital resources and circulation of physical materials. Perhaps this is something that could be taken up by the committee and puzzled over by the academics who will use the results. I was reminded of this when we (Wisconsin) updated our library space planning manual—that the purchase, preparation, housing, distribution, and use of virtual library materials has a very different impact on library overhead, staffing, space planning, budgeting, and maintenance of materials. Using our data for comparison of libraries will only become flakier if we continue to take the path-of-least-resistance and lump the virtual with the physical. I think we have a responsibility to gather data that is useful for evaluating library services through time and can reflect the changing landscape.


So, in Wisconsin, we have for two years now gathered stats on the use of digital “immaterial” on the annual report, but those are distinct from what we count as “circulation.” Circulation implies a visit to the library, and the involvement of the building, its overhead, staff, parking, overflowing toilets, the whole works.




Daria Bossman (SD)


I have to agree with John. These “apples and oranges” combinations make me nervous. They will serve no one in the end. Daria Bossman, South Dakota, SDSL



Bruce Pomerantz (MN)


Coincidentally, I have been checking with the various the ILS people of the various consortiums to determine if they all can distinguish between physical and electronic material circulation. If it’s feasible, I intend to do it to track the transition from the print to electronic materials. I predict physical materials will gradually shrink in number. I want the libraries to be able to explain to their funders why this is occurring.

I also predict that space planning will take this transition into account. Libraries 10 years from now will probably shrink the amount of floor space needed for shelving. Most of the floor space will be for computers and programming.  




Ann Reed (OR)


I’d take an alternate view, and would argue that we are talking apples and apples here.  The way the digital items (audio, video, e-book) are licensed should drive whether its counted with circ. For Oregon, if a patron checks out an e-book, its theirs, and only theirs, for three weeks before it returns to the “shelf”. How is this any different from a physical object? I would NOT count use of Gale virtual reference books as circ, or any other item that is available to unlimited users at the same time.

True, calculating the amount of overhead to have such an item available is a totally different ball of wax than a physical book, but that’s not what this national data set was meant to do. There is no reason why a state can’t collect subsets if it needs to for building planning or what have you at the state level.

I look at circulation as a measure of use of purchased library resources by the community. Library visits and other elements help capture foot traffic to the brick and mortar.



Scott Dermont (IA)


To me the problem is that libraries can’t count the downloadables if they aren’t cataloged even though patrons can access them from the web site. But they could still count circulation either way. So they are counting circ for items that aren’t in the catalog – I do think this makes determining turnover for the entire collection very problematic. I agree that if the downloadables are in the catalog and are counted for circ, then turnover isn’t an issue. But this is a rather rare occurrence in Iowa so far since usually only larger libraries download or generate Marc records for all of the downloadable materials.



Bruce Pomerantz (MN)


I agree with Ann about apples to apples AND to not counting online Gale Reference use as circulation. Recall that we did away with the online Reference/Serials category as a distinct data element and defined these analogs to print materials as databases. We did so because we could not create a definition that distinguished them from databases.

As for counting database use. . . I’ll leave that Pandora’s Box up on the top shelf way in the back next to a bunch of unopened cans of worms.



Edie Huffman (IN)


It really sounds as if we need to think about counting physical and digital circulations separately.



Bruce Pomerantz (MN)


I am surveying the ILS staffs with the intention of separating physical and digital circulations for 2012 for Minnesota use. I will combine them for IMLS if that is what is required.

My concern is calculating total materials available and calculations that use that total, such as items per capita. Counting only physical materials for the calculation leads to an undercount. We cannot have a category “unavailable to count.” Policymakers who look at the total materials expenditures and look at the number of total physical materials will not understand that a substantial number of items are “unavailable to count.” They will want to know what the money is being used for. Consortium licensing adds to the confusion.



Scott Dermont (IA)


I agree. I currently have a separate count for electronic circulation, but I haven’t broken it out by format yet. Just a single number that covers eBooks and downloadable audio/video



Nicolle Steffen (CO)


A request and comment from cold and snowy Denver…

If you have a separate count for electronic circulation, could you share your questions/matrix? In Colorado we want to breakout the e-materials, but are struggling with the level of detail needed.

BTW, there was a similar discussion on the list back in 2009. The problem of turnover rate was raised at that time, too. See:http://plsc.pbworks.com/w/page/7422622/How%20the%20Use%20of%20Audio%20and%20Video%20Downloadables%20are%20Counted. Seems we still haven’t solved this problem.



John DeBacher (WI)


Here are the questions we used in Wisconsin on the 2010 collection. These are in a section of Library Services titled “Use of Digital Resources.” Many libraries were still not yet able to identify and report the use, but I expect that this year all the regional cooperatives will be able to authenticate the use to the individual libraries. There is still some concern about attributing non-resident use in a non-arbitrary fashion in situations where the library cards are issued by a regional shared integrated library system, not necessarily by an individual library (the regions try to avoid having multiple cards issued to patrons who may use several libraries). Since most of the use is “remote,” and the Overdrive collections are part of a regional and statewide effort, it’s tough (and may get controversial) to attribute some of those uses. Next year, a million bucks will get pumped into the Overdrive and other statewide digital collections, with more at the regional level, so libraries may be clamoring to get credit for those non-resident “uses.”


7c. Uses of E-Books By Users of Your Library Report the number of annual e-book uses by users of your library. E-books typically correspond to printed works, although cataloged as distinct resources and are made available for use when downloaded to users on portable devices (e-book readers) or personal computers for a limited time. Report only if you can document the uses or if your system has authenticated the use (field may be pre-filled if your system has supplied data to DPI). (EBOOK_USES)  


7d. Uses of E-Audio by Users of Your Library Report the number of annual electronic audio (e-audio) uses by users of your library. E-audios correspond to commercial works, although cataloged as distinct resources and are made available for use when downloaded to portable audio devices or personal computers for a limited time. Include sound recordings such as web-based or downloadable audio books and MP3 files such as OverDrive titles made available by your system, if the system can authenticate the use by your library’s patrons. (EAUDIO_USES)  


7e. Uses of E-Video by Users of Your Library Report the number of annual electronic video (e-video) uses by users of your library. E-videos typically correspond to commercial works, although cataloged as distinct resources and are made available for use when downloaded to users on portable devices or personal computers for a limited time. This would include OverDrive titles made available by your system if the system can authenticate the use by your library’s patrons. (EVIDEO_USES)


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