Welcome to the fifteenth issue of the Ex Librian newsletter. This issue focuses on the way in which scholarly usage data improves the research experience of our users. I believe that Ex Libris offers unique expertise in this area, with the company’s extensive experience in gathering usage data and developing new services that leverage such data.
All of us are aware of how usage data enables the providers of information, primarily Web search engines, to better address our information needs. A few years ago, Ex Libris set out to achieve the same goal in the scholarly arena—first, by means of our bX article recommender service: SFX logs contributed by hundreds of libraries around the world are gathered into a repository (the bX database), and the data from the logs is mined and analyzed to generate usage-based recommendations. The bX service has proven to be extremely helpful to millions of researchers, because the recommendations establish associations between items on the basis of selections made by fellow researchers rather than on the basis of query terms and textual clues.
However, the creation of recommendations was only the first step. Usage data enables us to better address researchers’ needs in various ways. For example, to assess a scholarly item’s significance, the system can use the number of times that researchers select the item, along with the item’s number of citations and a measure of the impact of the journal in which the item was published. With today’s rapid flow of information and the growing variety of material types and publishing practices, usage analysis has become a timely and appropriate assessment method. The combined measure, representing both usage data and citations, is implemented in the Primo relevance-ranking technology and helps Primo display the most relevant items at the top of result lists.
Usage data is also at the core of the new Hot Articles service, which highlights the articles in which researchers are currently showing the most interest. Planned for general release in early 2012, the service will be available free of charge for integration in any noncommercial Web site. More usage-based reports will be introduced in our resource-discovery solutions in 2012.
All this is only the beginning. Business intelligence is at the heart of the Alma library management service. With usage data from Alma, librarians will be able to make more informed decisions, optimize the use of their library resources, and provide their community with a high-quality, cost-effective research environment that is targeted to their community’s needs.
As we embark on 2012, I wish you all a year of peace, productivity, and fulfillment.
Matti Shem Tov
President and CEO, Ex Libris Group