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In addition to the theoretical implications of use and usage, there are practical implications for librarians who interact with use and usage statistics on a daily basis.
Usage Statistics Survey
The results of an informal survey distributed May 4, 2010, to the Electronic Resources in Libraries (ERIL) e-mail list offer a glimpse into how usage statistics are actually being collected and used in libraries. At the time of distribution, there were 1,938 subscribers to ERIL-L and 112 individuals responded to the survey (see appendix). When asked how often (if at all) vendor-provided usage statistics for electronic resources are collected, 45 respondents stated annually; 16, every six months or twice a year; 51, monthly; and 11, quarterly or every three to four months (figure 16). However, these numbers are not as clear-cut as one might assume from first glance. Some respondents noted different time frames for different scenarios; thus, some responses were counted twice. For example, one respondent indicated that database statistics are collected once a year and e-journal statistics are collected twice a year. Moreover, even for those libraries that report collecting statistics on a monthly basis, it still depends on the publisher's or vendor's release schedule. For example, some publishers and vendors release statistics only on a quarterly basis, so monthly collection is not possible.
More than half of the responses included a caveat or further explanation of some sort; caveats ranged from "monthly, but as needed for special reports" to "once a year for annual reports but also at time of renewal for individual digital resources if under consideration for cancellation" to "usually twice a year, unless a faculty member needs usage stats ASAP." Other responses were not time-frame specific but rather stated "ongoing throughout the year" or the simple yet honest "not very often" or "I try for once a month. It rarely happens."
It is tempting to believe that the 51 respondents who collect statistics monthly outsource at least some of the responsibility through the use of services such as Serials Solutions 360 Counter (figures 17-20) or Scholarly Stats (figures 21-24). However, 32 of the 51 respondents who collect monthly are doing so manually, without the assistance of a third party or without the use of the SUSHI protocol. Of the entire 112 respondents, 41 did indicate that they were investigating, using, or had discontinued a vendor-supplied service. Two respondents quoted budgetary constraints. One commented that statistics were collected "manually, but only because we do not have the budget to outsource." The second explained: "The quoted cost of Serials Solutions and Scholarly Stats was too high for us," and went on to qualify, "Also, these products can't be used for non-COUNTER-compliant stats."
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Not all statistics are treated the same or necessarily collected on the same schedule. One respondent explained: "I try to do monthly reports on some things, calendar year on others, and fiscal year on others. It really depends on the resource as some I need to keep closer track of than others." For libraries that outsource their statistics-gathering duties, time frames may vary as well. One respondent …