It used to be considered inappropriate for library staff to monitor the usage patterns of their end users, but for today’s special libraries, tracking and acting upon the insights gained is essential for delivering the best in content, tools and services.
If your organization has a public facing website, it’s a certainty that traffic is being monitored. Your IT team and other stakeholders know exactly what people are looking at and using, because it’s their business to know what resonates with the organization’s audience. Intranets seem to have been held separate from the monitoring imperative, however, and that’s a problem.
The organizational intranet is increasingly the primary venue for internal sharing of knowledge and information, and of course the library has a significant presence and role to play in maintaining that flow, often integrating the OPAC with the intranet. In order to deliver the best content, tools and services to your end users, you absolutely must be able to see what they are reading, how they are searching, how they are finding, and what they are sharing. And by the way, it’s just as important to know what’s not working - failed searches, for example, can point to a lack of relevant content, problems with your search engine, or a training requirement, all of which can be fixed—if only you’re aware of them.
Although we usually prefer not to think about it, pretty much all of us know that when we join an organization, “our” computer, “our” phone and “our” searching habits (during the work day, or whenever we’re leveraging company-issued hardware and software) are available to our employer for tracking. Employees who’ve grown up with a personal Web presence through social media have accepted that monitoring of information consumption and sharing is the reality.
So why not turn this reality into a programmatic approach to gathering insight into such things as:
- which elements of your library’s knowledge sharing program are working, and which aren’t
- ways you can adapt your departmental knowledge strategy to accommodate evolving needs
- new products, services and training you should offer
To do so, you can certainly leverage tools such as LookUp Precision, Lucidea’s online resource tracking and management software—but you can also use functionality in your ILS to monitor OPAC activity. For example, SydneyEnterprise allows you to track and generate reports on downloads, searches, specific records, specific items, searches, facets (within search) and print commands—by specific users or groups of users. (The latter would be very helpful for law firm librarians to understand the requirements of a practice area, for example.) If your ILS or KM system has social capabilities, as Inmagic Presto does, you can monitor comments, likes or sharing activity to gain additional insights into user preferences.
So the question isn’t really whether “to track or not to track.” There are actually a couple of questions: “What will we track and how will we leverage the insights gained?” and then “We are going to track XXX activities. What’s the best and most powerful means of doing that?” If you have a successful approach to monitoring and measurement of your library services, please let us know; we’d love to hear about it!