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Sep 02

ALIA Dreaming 08 – Weds AM Concurrent Session Public – Dr Vivienne Waller

Who are the virtual visitors to the library and what are they doing? Dr Vivienne Waller

Working on research project with SLV – called the Searchers. Looking at purpose of public libraries in 21 century and implications of technology. Interested in current searching practices – looking at who goes where for what.

Back in 1995, Mercer found that most people would use their library to find something out. Pew Project 2007 found that the public library accounted for just over 10%. Internet was the overwhelming leader.

Top Australian reference sites were Wikipedia and then the Bureau of Meteorology, followed by various answer websites such as Ask.

Stats show that the top 20 websites account for nearly 60% of hits, but the long tail – the other 40% was made up of over 3,000 websites.

SLV – 1 million visits to the building, 22 million to the website (2006/07) (all SLV domains).

Research on SLV main website – www.slv.vic.gov.au, included research on the long tail. They used Hitwise data – could use Google Analytics for smaller websites. Hitwise data includes demographic data, 40% of ISPs send their data to Hitwise as well as recording their traffic.

More than average visitors to the SLV website come from educated singles, families maintaining the rural economy, young affluent singles and sharers in the city, wealthiest families in the exclusive suburbs. Under-represented are the most other categories.

Victoria accounts for about 63% of virtual visitors, NSW for 17% and other most states between 1 and 3%. The top 10 referrers included Google, Yahoo, Picture Australia, National Library and Wikipedia.

Top 10 sites only account for 51%, what are some of the other 49% sites? The categories of site in the long tail include search engines (40%), library (about 15%), with more from computer and internet sites (eg. social networking sites).

Where do they go afterwards? Much more came from search engines, but a lesser proportion return to them. Hope that means they found what they are looking for.

Results on searches that led to the slv website – top 10 searches, 22% – variations on state library of victoria. The other 78% of searches came from over 15,000 terms and fell mainly into the categories of history, place, reference, buidling and books/authors.

Did searchers find what they were looking for? Rough estimate using upstream and downstream traffic and images, suggests that 50% of people found what they wanted an moved onto other sites.

Important to take advantage of web log data, but some questions can only be answered by detailed survey and analysis.

Question: how can we tell if users have used the guides on our websites. Can tag those pages with the Google Analytics code – if all pages are tagged, can track their progress through your website. Can track where people are geographically as well.

Question: was there any work done on people using the databases. Currently doing work on who is using the catalogue – tricky to measure the databases, because that is not content hosted by SLV.

Question: could Hitwise data be used to help measure programs aimed at people who are underrepresented. Yes it could be in principal, but data must be paid for. If data is very localised, would be better to survey individuals.