EResource Metrics and privacy

Hi, everyone!

So, my library consortium’s annual conference is this week, and I and a colleague did a presentation comparing citation managers (Zotero and Refworks, specifically, and I think there’s very good reasons to prefer Zotero I’m happy to chat about, too!).

We had a question that has me thinking–“RefWorks seems to have metrics for use available to eresources personnel to help justify/understand its adoption on campus. Is that a reason to prefer it?”

In the moment, I handled it as a privacy issue–that metrics (ESPECIALLY fully-identified ones!) are a privacy violation, and we need to be very careful. The questioner makes an interesting point, though!

How have you/your library handled the intersection of usage metrics and data vs protecting patron privacy?

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Zotero FTW! I don’t understand why libraries are still actively promoting anything else. One nice thing about Zotero is that if you’re looking at adoption rates to justify whether or not to pay for a subscription, that’s pretty irrelevant, because it’s free! :stuck_out_tongue: Obviously wouldn’t apply for all of these scenarios but I do think it’s worth really digging into why exactly someone needs to know this information, what are they going to do with that, is there some other way they could approach that question.

e.g. If you’re looking at adoption rates to measure efficacy of library programming… in some ways I think the desire for so much usage data maybe has to do with constant underfunding (among other things) that has put libraries in this position where they need to measure everything so that they can prove that they are worth something to justify their continued existence. Like “look, X% more people use RefWorks after our information series on it! please don’t shut us down!” (and of course you can do surveys and stuff to get at that information!! it’s less comprehensive and more time-consuming but it’s certainly possible!)

If what you need for funding is usage data it’s hard to know where you could ever draw the line – it would indeed be useful and interesting to know who exactly is using the library at all times and what they’re using it for!!! Why should it be any of my business if they adopted RefWorks? I should at least need to ask them directly.

Maybe it’s helpful to think of it like if we adopt RefWorks we end up in a data brokerage partnership with RefWorks – they collect the data for who knows what purposes (and who knows who they share it with, how long they keep it, how they store it, etc.), and then we get to use it for our budgets and grant applications! Maybe framing it as libraries and vendors in cahoots to profit off student data is a useful way to think about promoting RefWorks – because ideally I think libraries and students would be an allied front and students would be able to rely on libraries to provide them with safer options. (Instead of universities just constantly extracting money and data and more from students)

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