The electronic library is a growth area for most libraries. Conventional statistics based on International Standard ISO 2789:1991 'information and documentation - International library statistics' do not explicitly cover library activities relating to electronic media. This paper offer proposals to express electronic activities within the conceptual framework of conventional statistics.
The dynamics in the library and information world - new media and services, alternative ways of organizing the library community and a much more diversified group of actors - have caused a pressure for a revision of the library statistics. Currently ISO 2789:1991 is under revision, but international standardization work takes time, and the Danish libraries felt the need to update their library statistics so strongly that a working group presided by the Danish National Library Authority in 1996 made a proposal to enlarge the national library statistics in the interim until a new ISO standard can be agreed. The libraries wanted means to report new activities not mentioned in the ISO 2789:1991. On the other hand it was important to ensure that Denmark still could meet the obligations of international agreements.
The electronic library was one of the main areas of interest for the working group. The suggestions from the working group referring to electronic media and services will be presented in this paper.
By working in this way - by adding or by subtracting - it has been possible to maintain continuity with previous statistical figures. As in bookkeeping you must operate with an audit trail for transactions and control.
During the work the importance was stressed always to use the same language as ISO 2789:1991. This implies
The area of primary interest concerned statistics of use and services in the electronic library. The relevant topics for this purpose are
As library statistics show statistical data of library use based on the single library, the interesting question is how to draw a borderline between a library's own collection of electronic media and electronic documents not included in the library collection. In the traditional library it is normally not difficult to draw these borderlines: but, when you are dealing with electronic media, the concept of 'ownership' needs some new delineation as you can not depend upon 'physical presence'
If you have bought a CD-ROM without any license restrictions, there are no problems in relation to ownership - you can easily compare this to paper editions. But if you have bought temporary licensed access to an electronic journal, you are only one of many customers having some rights of disposal over the 'physical' unit. However, even here you can draw parallels to the traditional library scene - as there are examples of partnership in collection building.
It is suggested the collection of electronic media in a library should include
The purpose of the definition is to identify those documents of which the library has some authority regarding the regulation of access. The suggestion contains an intended strong parallel to the concept of traditional library collections.
This suggestion can be seen as a short cut; the result is a concept that where statistical statements regarding use are in focus, the relevant definition of an electronic document is "some data to which a library gives access": how these data are arranged or stored is of no interest for this way of presenting the problem. What is essential is to count only what should be counted according to the intentions of ISO 2789:1991.
ISO 2789:1991 includes only a few categories of library use:
The use of electronic documents in a single library can be illustrated in the following way, keeping in mind the preceding boundaries regarding library collection and types of electronic media
End-user (direct loan) External information suppliers Inside the library Remote use Libraries Other suppliers ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Print direct loan xx interlibrary direct loan Download lending File transmission Reading, only in-house use xx xx xx
In theory it is possible to count direct loans and interlending. If staff carry out the printing/download/file transmission, the collection of data is very parallel to counting photocopying services in the traditional library; the question of identifying 'an item' in the electronic world may be different, but not necessarily more difficult than photocopying situations. If the users serve themselves you also are in situations comparable to self-service copying - only there may be software facilities to show use of electronic documents.
Reading electronic documents inside the library is comparable to reading books and journals in areas with open stacks. The remote reading of documents from a collection of electronic documents has no direct parallel; but these might be comparable to, and counted as loans or interlending, if the library has software to supply data on use.
ISO 2789:1991 also includes statistics of services by interlibrary loan. Where electronic media are involved the situation can be described as follows, keeping in mind the preceding boundaries regarding library collection and types of electronic media:
EXTERNAL DOCUMENT SUPPLIERS Libraries Other information suppliers ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Print Interlibrary loan Other just-in-time Download document supply File transmission Reading,only Not counted Not counted
Again there are strong parallels to the conventional statistics covering traditional media. What becomes more evident, where electronic media are concerned, are the situations where a library does not supply wanted documents from the collections of other libraries but fulfils its mission through other information suppliers. You cannot describe these activities within the language of ISO 2789:1991 - either for traditional media or for electronic media.
The reading of electronic documents forming parts of external collections' is considered as being an act carried out within the physical environment of the library concerned. The situation can be compared with the situation where a customer goes to the library and reads a book that he has obtained elsewhere: this situation is not covered by conventional statistics. But this does not mean that future statistics might not provide figures to describe this activity.