August 2, 2010
But Where Was the Library
Last week, a funny comic from xkcd made its way around the social media carousel. It is called "University Web Site." The cartoon is about how things on a university web site are often not what people are looking for when to go to a university web site. It is particularly appealing to librarians because the pictoral takes the form of a Venn diagram. I am not sure why I think Venn Diagrams are appealing to us, maybe its just me, or maybe its genetically encoded into people who choose this profession for a career. In any case, it got a lot of mileage in our little world.
Sadly, the library is not represented on the part of the diagram that represents what people look for on a school web site, nor is it represented on the part of the diagram that represents what is actually on a web site. Now I know this is just a comic, and I should not take it too seriously, but I'm just saying... Where is the library?
Do you know where your library is? I mean with respect to your web analytics. Web analytics help market your library. Do you know how many hits your library page gets? How does it compare with other departments in your company or school? What pages do your visitors go to? How long do they stay there and where do they go next? What's popular? What's not? More importantly, what actions does your library take in response to those statistics? And, should this be reported on the ABA Annual Questionnaire as an indication of how libraries are responding to serve their academic communities better? Perhaps it deserves a metric in the US News and World Report Rankings. Hmmmm.
If you are using Sharepoint at your institution, Microsoft provides pre-built reports. These are useful; however, from what I see they are not as flexible or as extensive as the free GA. Then again, learning Sharepoint takes a lifetime so if someone out there is more experienced with the pre-built reports please correct me in the comments section.
I'd like to recommend a few titles for futher reading on this subject which are in no particular order and are highly selective based on what I found interesting:
Marshall Breeding, An Analytical Approach to Assessing the Effectiveness of Web Based Resources, 28 Computers in Libraries 20 (Jan. 2008)
Paul Betty, Assessing Homegrown Library Collections: Using Google Analytics to Track Use of Screencasts and Flash-Based Learning Objects, 21 Journal of Electronic Resource Librarianship 75 (March 1, 2009)
Wei Feng, Using Google Analytics for Improving Library Web Site Content and Design, Library Philosophy and Pracitce (2007)
Karine Joly, Embracing Web Analytics: How to get a web analytics revolution started at your university, 13 University Business 29 (June 2010)
Max Chafkin, Improving Your Sense of Site, 30 Inc. 35 (Nov. 2008)
Joe Morgan, Google Analytics for Libraries, at http://josephsandersmorgan.com/home/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2010/07/GoogleAnalyticsforLibraries3.pdf (last visited Aug. 2 2010) (YIKES! This guy put together a 50 page how to guide with a bibliography to boot!)