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Data element 503: registered users

Page history last edited by Kim Miller 8 years, 5 months ago

Data Definitions Committee Response to Registered Users data element


Sent to SDC email list on 6/12/14 by Susan Mark (WY):


There was a question on the registered users data element regarding libraries that purge every two years instead of the standard three, who wanted to go back and reclaim those third-year users.

From the data definitions committee perspective, there appear to be the 5 options below. The committee is not moving forward with proposing any changes to this data element at this time. We are throwing it out to the wider list for review and any discussion.

As always, any SDC can propose a data element change/addition/deletion if you feel strongly that this data element needs improvement.

Option 1: Revise "registered users" to "active users." Define "active users" as someone who has checked out an item in the past three years.



  • More consistent measure from library to library, as local libraries use different purging schedules
  • Arguably a better measure of library use and support.


  • Breaks with 20+ years of data collection under old definition -- the two are not comparable
  • Takes library card holders out of the stats if they use their card to access computers, wifi, and databases but don't check out materials.
  • Potential problems if some ILS systems don't track this well
  • Collective screams of 9,000+ libraries as their stats take a dive


Option 2: Add an "active users" data element, defined as someone who has checked out materials in the past three years.



  • Gives us a better handle on actual activity


  • Another data element adds to reporting burden
  • Again, leaves out cardholders actively using non-collection resources


Option 3: Leave it be, but recommend a purging schedule,as in not just how often, but as in how long an inactive patron should stay on the books before being kicked off.



  • Recommended purging schedule might bring better consistency.
  • Does not break with past data collection.


  • Treads into dangerous territory of us telling them HOW to  run their libraries. 
  • And will they listen to us on that one, anyway?


Option 4: Leave it be. Quietly advise the two-year purgers that yes, go ahead and add back in the third-year people even if they're not on the books.


Option 5: Leave it  be. Tell the rare two-year purgers tough cookies. 



SDC Comments:


Lauren Miklovic (RI)


Our pesky consortium (of which every public library is a member) does this on a three year basis, and although I'd like to tell them what to do quite often, I don't feel like I could really tell them to change their purging cycle.  If the libraries themselves were responsible, I would have a lot more flexibility, but unfortunately that's not the case.  For that reason alone, I'd recommend we just leave this alone- I guess that would be options 4 and 5? 



Jamie McCanless (WI)


Of these five options, I’d have to respond “5. Leave it be.” We can only recommend a particular period between purges, which doesn’t always carry much weight here.


If total circulation in the PLS includes uses of downloadable content, then the number of registered users include those who only use their accounts for downloadable content and databases. Regardless of how often user records are purged, some number of active but online-only users are likely purged along with inactive users. While the number of online-only  users is probably low, I believe it is growing. In other words, the data is already affected.


Before considering a change in how often libraries should purge user records, I’d want to know/discuss whether online-only users are counted among active and inactive registered users.



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