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Counting Electronic Items: A Query from Two AK Librarians

Page history last edited by Kim Miller 15 years, 4 months ago

October 14, 2008


Patience A. Frederiksen, AK

A Question for Discussion:


A few weeks ago, I got the same question about our statistical definitions from two different librarians in one day. They were working on the annual report and had concerns about why we count just those electronic items that have records in our catalogs.


Their questions had to do with this sentence: For electronic units, report only items the library has selected as part of the collection and made accessible through the library’s Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC). This sentence has been part of the definition for E-books #451 for some time and was just added to audio #452 and video #453 holdings.


They both asked why just count electronic materials that have records added to the catalog when in many cases, electronic materials can be found through a separate link that is prominently featured on the library webpage. Both pointed to the link to Listen Alaska (our name for a shared contract that provides downloadable audiobooks from Overdrive) on their web pages as providing access to the titles.


One librarian asked why we count databases that are not linked in our catalogs, but require catalog records to count electronic books and downloadable audio and video.


Both talked about the additional cost of adding records for these materials to SIRSI.


The cost of adding these records to their catalogs for the Overdrive titles is especially significant in Alaska, because 13 of the largest libraries have a shared contract to buy downloadable audiobooks, so each of the 13 libraries would need to add records for the titles to their catalogs in order to count them.


One said that the maintenance of records on their catalog is an issue, especially when the vendor adds and deletes titles from the service a lot. Her library subscribes to My Library DV and that vendor changes the title mix a lot. She said the Overdrive list of titles is stable, because specific titles are selected under the shared contract.


I said that if they added records to their catalog, more patrons would find the titles. One librarian disagreed and said that the format of the material is more important to patrons because downloadable materials are very attractive to certain patrons who want to find all the downloads in one place and not have to search the entire catalog to find a subset of downloadable items.


We discussed the idea of breaking out these items as follows:

Ebooks/audio/video purchased by the library with records in the library catalog

Ebooks/audio/video purchased by the library without records in the library catalog.


These two librarians were concerned about the change because Overdrive has become such a popular service in Alaska, yet none of the libraries have added records to their catalogs. We are counting the circulation from Overdrive, which can be reported for each library, but they cannot count the actual number of downloadable audiobooks because none have added records for Overdrive titles to their catalogs.


Neither of these libraries reports any E-Book holdings, so this part of the definition was never a concern before we added this stricture to audio and video.


Have any of you hit this problem with the change to audio and video?




Juan Lee , UT

In Utah, we also use the definition that includes only items the library has selected as part of the collection and made accessible through the library’s Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) as Patience mentioned for Alaska.  Several of my librarians have also raised the concern that they are not adding the records of electronic materials to their OPACs for the reasons Patience highlighted and it doesn't seem fair that some libraries get to count the NetLibrary holdings and some don't.


Bruce Pomerantz, MN

A committee of school librarians and I decided to classify audio and video downloading subscription services as databases for our annual school library report. Perhaps we need to broaden the public library definition of databases so that it includes resources as NetLibrary?


Susan Vittitow, WY

I thought we already counted resources such as Netlibrary as databases, if they weren't linked in the catalog. We count our NetLibrary in our holdings, as they're linked in the catalog, but we count MyLibraryDV (video downloads) as a database.


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