Fall/Winter Term Blog Post

Analytics Project

These past few weeks I have been working on an Analytics Project. Analytics is the data warehouse of the library’s Alma management system, and it contains data about acquisitions, collections, loans, and patrons, among other things. I began by exploring the website to get familiar with the different terminology that it uses. I then read some articles that spoke about the importance of using statistics when making decisions in the library. As I began to get more familiar with Analytics, I then followed with thinking of different reports that I can focus my project on. With the help of Jason, Lisa, and Chris, I finally came to a decision that I would like to look at how many physical items and electronic items were being purchased this fall versus last fall. I wanted to see if there would have been more electronic books being bought by the library than last year because of the current pandemic going on. My hypothesis was that because of the pandemic, we would see an increase in electronic books being bought and a decrease of physical books being bought compared to last fall term. 

The statistics that I found once I completed my report came to no surprise to me. There had been a decrease in physical items being bought while there was an increase in electronic items being purchased. In fact from last year’s statistics, there was around a 450% increase in electronic books that the library received this term while there was a 55% decrease in physical books that the library received this term. To even further my findings, I included the amount of physical and electronic books that were received in the fall of 2017 and 2018. I found that if we compare the findings in all four years, it seems that from 2018 and on there has been a decrease of physical books that are coming in and an increase of electronic books being accessed in the fall. 

In looking at the number of books that were ordered both physically and electronically for every (Library of Congress) classification letter, I learned a few things that have changed over the past four years during the fall terms. I learned that because of the pandemic, there seemed to be an increase in electronic books that were purchased by Gould Library. With an increase of electronic books being purchased, there was a decrease in physical books being purchased. Some of the most common purchases of books in both electronic and physical books were that of Philosophy/Psychology/Religion, World History, Social Sciences, and Language/Literature. This did not surprise me because I had previously predicted that humanities would be big in ordering items at the library. One thing that did surprise me however was the items that have decreased in the number of physical books that the library is purchasing under these categories: Philosophy/Psychology/Religion, History of the Americas, and Science.

Overall, doing this project has taught me how to use Analytics to retrieve data that could be useful to make decisions in the library. I enjoyed exploring this website because personally, I do not deal with analyzing statistics or mathematics at Carleton so it was refreshing to work closely with them again. Lastly, I have included a bar graph to show the public my findings in the form of bar graphs to get a visual representation of what I am talking about in this blog.