Research

Reaching Well Beyond the Library

MSU Librarians are doing important research to improve how we use digital library resources. This includes creating new tools for tracking their use, creating new ways to display content in web browsers, developing best practices for deployment of such tools, and providing training for librarians from across the country.

MSU Photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez

Measuring Up: Assessing Accuracy of Reported Use and Impact of Digital Repositories

Project Leader: Kenning Arlitsch, Dean of the Library

You may be surprised to learn that tracking the use of digital resources available from libraries can be tough. Montana State University LIbrary and partners including OCLC Research, the Association of Research Libraries, and the University of New Mexico, are addressing issues related to the assessment of digital library use. Why is digital use so hard to assess?

Page tagging tools such as Google Analytics are very good at counting views of HTML pages, but are less useful for counting non-HTML file downloads (pdfs). File downloads are often missed or are misreported. If a researcher’s search takes them to an outside institutional repository to which MSU Library subscribes, the MSU Library may never know how that researcher made use of that repository or what they downloaded. Ultimately, the work helps libraries improve the accuracy of their use statistics and recommends best practices to improve consistency of these reports while also protecting user privacy. The outcomes of this ongoing work are being integrated into the Repository Analytics and Monitoring Portal (RAMP), a cloud based prototype web service to which 30 institutional repositories have already subscribed. Read more.

MSU Photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez

Building a Better Book (in the Browser)

Project Leader: Jason Clark, Head of Special Collections and Archival Informatics

Project Team Members: Jan Zauha, Humanities and Outreach Librarian and Scott Young, User Experience and Assessment Librarian

The Montana State University Library has developed prototype software for publishing books within in a web browser (Chrome, Firefox, etc.), which will make online books more accessible, discoverable, shareable, and ready for analysis by users. Accompanying this work, MSU Librarians drafted best practices for web publishing in specific genres, such as textbooks, fiction, and articles, and shared these best practices through outreach and publications. The resulting open source software created a model intended for broader use in the library and publishing communities, contributing to a wider area of research related to open publishing models for e-books.

MSU Photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez

Tribal College Librarians Institute

Project Leader: Mary Anne Hansen, Research Commons Librarian

Montana State University Library uses a grant from the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarians Program to support the Tribal College Librarians Institute (TCLI), an annual week-long professional development program for tribal college librarians and archivists. Because of their geographic isolation and relatively low budgets, tribal college librarians often cannot meet regularly with their peers or attend professional conferences. Attendance and participation in TCLI helps fill this void for approximately sixty librarians each year. Since 1991, TCLI has provided continuing education programming across all areas of librarianship that is tailored to the unique needs of tribal college librarians, helping them to develop the information and digital literacy of their communities, as well as other critical skills their users will need to be successful in the 21st century.