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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Winter 2004

Dynamics of Agriculture Subject Guides Usage at KSU Libraries

Mohan Ramaswamy
Kansas State University


Scanning library literature, we found that there were few studies on how online library subject guides were used. One reason may be because librarians have only recently begun to publish their subject guides online. With the start of the new millennium, agriculture librarians, like others, dynamically create, publish, and update an increasing number of subject guides. This paper proposes to analyze browse statistics as a potential source of review and evaluation of web guides. At KSU Libraries, we felt it was germane to review the performance of these significant online resources. We analyzed the browse (web page hits) data of agriculture subject guides for three years (1999-2000 to 2001-2002). Specifically, the subject guide web pages that were selected for this study were those dealing with General Agriculture, Agronomy, Animal Sciences, Entomology, and Plant Pathology. Monthly browse statistics for these web pages were collected and tabulated in an MS Excel spreadsheet. In order to standardize the data across different disciplines, we assumed that the corresponding user groups might have affected the number of browses per web page. Thus, the total number of the supposed user population corresponding to a subject discipline was used to standardize the respective subject guide browses. As the first aspect of data analysis, a randomized complete block analysis was performed to analyze the variance among the mean number of browses of the different subject guides. The results were used to draw inferences about the comparative usage of agriculture subject guides. The second aspect was a study on the fluctuation of browses with respect to time. For this, monthly data were plotted on a graph. The results of both of these studies will be presented as part of this contributed paper. In addition to discussing the conclusions of this study, the authors will propose their vision on the use of web guide statistics as a prospective review tool. The possible role of marketing the agriculture web pages will also be discussed. It is our hope that dialogue among USAIN participants will shed more light on the use of web browse statistics of agriculture subject guides.

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