ASIS&T 2006 START Conference Manager    

The Power of Context: Empowering Data-Based Librarianship through Data Warehousing, Data Mining, and Visualization

Scott Nicholson, Assistant Professor, Syracuse University School of Information Studies, Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Consulting Research Scientist, OCLC, Office of Research Bob Molyneux, Chief Statistician, Sirsi/Dynix

ASIS&T Annual Meeting - 2006 (ASIS&T 2006)
Austin, Texas, November 3-9, 2006


Information Seeking in Context has suggested the importance of considering context when examining the information behavior of an individual. Library analysis projects in the past that looked at log or collection data did not take context into consideration, primarily because the data warehouses were not there to support these activities. The data were challenging to collect and combine, and even if the data were collected, analysis using traditional methods was challenging.

One answer has grown in the corporate sector over the last two decades – data warehousing and data mining. These concepts focused on developing data warehouses to hold and connect the company's operational data in a form better suited for analysis and employing data mining methods to allow analysts to seek patterns in these overwhelming haystacks of data.

Library scientists both in academia and industry have noted this growth. Scott Nicholson, Syracuse University School of Information Studies, proposed the bibliomining process, which combines the power of data warehousing and data mining with another powerful data-based technique, bibliometrics, to allow improved decision-making for librarians. Over the last few years, Nicholson has developed bibliomining through conceptual frameworks and has worked to position it amongst other evaluation techniques in the library manager’s toolbox. Nicholson’s recent work is the integration of concepts from Information Seeking in Context into the conceptual frameworks of bibliomining. His presentation on this panel will be about this exploration of the importance of context at the heart of these data-based explorations.

Library service providers have also gotten involved with the development of these concepts and the embodiment of these concepts into tools that librarians can employ. OCLC, a long-time non-profit leader in the development of library services, is employing data warehousing across their organization to allow greatly improved understanding library services. Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Consulting Research Scientist at OCLC research, will present several of the new tools developed by OCLC that allows the visual exploration of multiple variables simultaneously, introducing new levels of context into traditionally-collected data about libraries.

Another leader in the library field in the area of dealing with data is the vendor Sirsi/Dynix. Primarily a provider of library automation solutions, Sirsi/Dynix has dedicated resources toward the Normative Data Project. This project gathers collection data from hundreds of public libraries and incorporates context to allow a higher-level understanding of librarianship and collections through advanced Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) tools. Bob Molyneux, Chief Statistician for Sirsi/Dynix, will present the Normative Data Project and explain how library and information science researchers can gain access to this data for their own exploration.

Librarians will be able to use these concepts and tools to improve their management practices, to justify their existence to funders, and to make decisions and create policies that better reflect the actual use of their library services. The bibliomining process is challenging and time-consuming; leadership is required to create tools and develop methods that overworked librarians can employ. If done properly, these methods will protect the privacy of users while allowing the library a better understanding of how their services are used. Through cooperation between library researchers, library vendors, and librarians, these tools can be created and incorporated into existing library systems. Combining the availability of tools with education will allow the profession to move more quickly to incorporate data-based decision-making and evaluation methods needed now that “doing good” is no longer good enough.

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