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    19.4 Library Use — Statistics and Observations

    From 1997 to 2002 overall library use increased by forty percent. This use statistic included use of reference services, circulation, including in-house use, reserve and interlibrary loan.

    Approximately 1.8 million users enter the libraries physically each year and use library services including electronic information. The number of persons coming to the libraries has steadily increased each of the last five years. Based on annual assessment data, collected by the Library Assessment Team using student and faculty surveys and focus groups, it has been found that people like the services provided for them because they are based on their information needs. The campus community also appreciates the state-of-the-art electronic information environment in the libraries and last but not least they enjoy such amenities as the computer lab and e-mail facilities.

    In 1998-99 more than seven million electronic uses of the online catalog, web sites and electronic journals were registered; in 1999-2000 such electronic use went up to eleven million, a fifty-seven percent increase. In 1999-2000, only 38 percent of total use of electronic materials came from inside the U of L libraries. External accesses outnumbered internal at nearly a three-to-one ratio. Close partnerships with the faculty have resulted in teaching information skills to more than 8,000 students a year while beginning to integrate information literacy throughout the curriculum.

    The U of L libraries feature eighteen distinct web sites including 1,158 pages and more than 54,000 links. These web sites are updated and increased on a regular basis. Last year alone seven million uses of the electronic catalog and web sites were recorded, an increase of 350 percent over the previous year. It must be noted that the libraries are only at the very beginning of collecting use statistics related to electronic information and the Web. Much more has to be learned to ensure that these statistics are truly meaningful in measuring use.

    The U of L libraries are beginning to allocate significant resources for, and to rethink services related to electronic information. In 2002-20031 access to library users to 270 electronic databases has been made available, as compared to forty-two databases in 1996-97, an increase of over 600 percent. Among these new resources are large databases and services with access to abstracts and full-text articles, such as ABI/Inform, First Search, EBSCO, Biological Abstracts, Beilstein, INSPEC, Medline, Science Direct, Lexis-Nexis, and Web of Science. Databases in almost all subject areas and covering a variety of sources, such as reference books, theses, encyclopedias and biographies, are available.

    The U of L libraries, similar to other academic and research libraries, have been forming partnerships and cooperative agreements with one another to ensure preservation and cost containment for electronic and scholarly publications. The U of L libraries subscribe to several of these, such as SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition; MUSE, a consortium of more than twenty-six journals from University Presses and Scholarly Societies; JSTOR, a consortium of over 1,000 academic libraries and preserver of online back files; and IDEAL (International Digital Electronic Access Library), a publisher consortium for online journal subscriptions.

    Access to and utilization to many electronic journals is achieved through a variety of interfaces and search engines such as OVID, a search engine for psychology and health sciences databases. Users prefer this search engine since it allows them options to use and understand complex databases. The OVID search engine enjoys heavy use among health sciences and science students and faculty. Use of this search engine continues to increase dramatically, for example in 1999 43,000 uses were recorded, compared to 89,036 in 2000.

    Another example of user preferences is Web of Science, a citation database for sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities that covers thousands of research journals across many disciplines and offers searchable author abstracts as well as citations to support research. In 1998 access to all components of the Web of Science and its substantial back files was offered for the first time at U of L libraries. Use statistics indicate increasing use of this database. In 1999 37,378 searches were recorded compared to 44,221 in 2000. [6]