The Assessment and Analysis of Materials Availability: A Mixed Methods Approach
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The availability of library materials is central to the effective running of a library. Does the library have what its clients want? Can they find or access it? And if not, why not? The analysis of materials availability can thus provide a fundamental measure of performance, and can also deliver valuable information to determine strategies for improvement to library services. The main theoretical work in this area was done in the 1970s and focused on print resources and on searches by library clients for known items. There have, however, been relatively few attempts to transfer the principles of this early work to the electronic information universe. Recent work at Curtin University Library has suggested that the current discovery environment is too complex to be captured within a single survey instrument. This chapter explores a mixed-methods approach to collecting data on materials availability from multiple sources, addressing different aspects of the problem. These include survey and focus group data, and analysis of discovery systems logs, document delivery requests and catalogue problem reports, which can be combined to create a holistic view of interactions between clients and library collections, and to provide a basis for a sustainable performance measure.
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