The Instruction and Outreach Department manages and coordinates library research instruction for students, faculty and staff through course-related workshops, outreach activities, personal consultations, research guides and other instructional materials.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

WorldCat Collection Analysis

As part of our field experiences, Alex and I have had the opportunity to acquaint ourselves with WorldCat Collection Analysis, an online tool from OCLC which Duke subscribes to. The idea behind WCA is to use WorldCat data to provide a straightforward way to examine a library's holdings and to assess how they compare to those of other institutions.

One use of WCA is to get a sense of the makeup of a library’s collection, and how it has evolved over time. Running a “My Library” analysis produces results like these:

This analysis shows home library titles organized by subject category and publication date (so Duke Libraries hold 415 books on anthropology with a publication date of 2005). Clicking on the numbers will bring up a list of the titles themselves.

While this search only goes back to 1990, it’s possible to extend the analysis back to books published before 1500, and the arrow icons to the left of each subject category allow the search to be narrowed by subcategory:

It seems that Duke Libraries are acquiring works on aquaculture at the rate of around 50 titles a year.

In addition to analyzing the holdings of a single library, WCA can be used to compare the holdings of multiple libraries, via its “Peer Comparison” analysis:

This search is a top-level comparison of Duke’s and MIT’s holdings. “Unique” items are those held only by the specified library, while “Overlap” items are held by both libraries. This analysis can be broken down by subject category, and it’s also possible to compare the home library with multi-library groups.

Another use for WCA is to analyze interlibrary loan activity: it gives access to data both on items loaned and items requested. These searches are broken down by subject category, and can be viewed by number of requests or by request date (as far back as 2003). These are some results from an analysis by request frequency:

This shows that Duke users have requested three music-related titles more than 10 times since 2003--two are periodicals and the other is Noise: The Political Economy of Music.

Alex and I are still exploring WCA's possibilities, but it seems like a useful tool for understanding the dimensions of a library’s collection and how it stacks up to its peers. For those interested in learning more about WCA, we'll be offering an informal, hands-on workshop on Monday December 6th from 2-3 in Bostock 023.

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