Applying Quantitative Methods to E-book Collections

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Library Technology Reports, May/June 2017 (53:4)

In the current digital landscape, information needs often surpass available e-resources, and librarians are required to justify purchases or requests for budget increases with quantitative evidence. By collecting and analyzing quantitative data sets, librarians can evaluate e-book collections and provide administration with evidence that can help them make informed decisions that better support patrons’ needs.

In this issue of Library Technology Reports (vol. 53, no. 4), “Applying Quantitative Methods to E-book Collections,” author Melissa Goertzen demonstrates how to develop an evaluation framework for e-book collections using readily available quantitative data sources. Throughout the report, she provides examples of research methods, data sets, and study results that she’s used to make informed decisions for Columbia University Libraries’ (CUL) e-book collection. This report will guide you through the quantitative analysis process and showcase that analysis methods can be developed for e-book collections regardless of the size of your library or equipment budget. Goertzen covers such important topics as

  • current trends in patron information needs and publishing;
  • quantitative data and metrics, including key characteristics and various types of research questions they can answer;
  • performance measures and indicators that can be used in information management environments to support conclusions for e-book collection development decisions;
  • a case study of the E-book Program Development Study that Goertzen conducted at CUL and a research framework that Goertzen relies on to plan and define her e-book analysis projects;
  • examples that demonstrates how quantitative methods can answer questions related to fund allocations, return on investment, usage trends, collection impact, and content distribution across subject headings; and
  • a discussion of how quantitative research can translate into collection development policies and best practices. 
  • Chapter 1—Analyzing E-book Collections in the Digital Age
  • Chapter 2—Establishing a Foundation: Trends in the Publishing Industry and User Communities
  • Chapter 3—Introduction to Quantitative Research and Data
  • Chapter 4—Putting It into Practice: Quantitative Methods at Columbia University Libraries
  • Chapter 5—Translation of Quantitative Results to Collection Development Policies
  • Chapter 6—Conclusion

Melissa J. Goertzen

Melissa J. Goertzen is the Collection Development Analysis & Support Librarian at Columbia University Libraries. She has ten years of experience working as a writer, project manager, and information professional at academic institutions across Canada and the United States. In 2016, she completed the E-book Program Development Study, an ambitious assessment project that documented the e-book landscape at Columbia University over the course of two years. The results provided a series of strategic best practices for collection development initiatives. She completed a double BA program in English and History at the University of Calgary, followed by a Master of Information Management (MLIS) at Dalhousie University. To learn more, please visit

Library Technology Reports

Published by ALA TechSource, Library Technology Reports helps librarians make informed decisions about technology products and projects. Library Technology Reports publishes eight issues annually and provides thorough overviews of current technology. Reports are authored by experts in the field and may address the application of technology to library services, offer evaluative descriptions of specific products or product classes, or cover emerging technology. Find out more information on this publication and how you can subscribe here.

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