Last week I put together the 2010 Quarter 1 report on K-State's incoming OpenURLs for Adam Chandler's OpenURL Quality Metrics project. For more details about this project see the previous post, Adam's blog, or NISO's description of the new IOTA Working Group. The number of incoming OpenURLs during the first quarter looked pretty good to me but I wondered how it compared to the number of incoming OpenURLs we've received during the first quarter of previous years. I used some of our historical data to take a picture of how usage of SFX has and has not changed over four years.
For those of you keeping track, the number of incoming OpenURLs in any given period is just another way of talking about the number of requests received during that period. The number of requests we receive is recorded monthly in the historical data's Req&ClickTotals spreadsheets. I extracted only the first quarter of each year's data and ended up with this:
A spreadsheet is a poor substitute for a story. So here's a short story about first quarter usage of SFX at K-State.
For one thing, usage of SFX during the first quarter has increased impressively over the documented four-year period. From first quarter 2007 to first quarter 2010, total usage increased 73% - from 79,103 requests to 136,549 requests. The year-to-year jumps are interesting too: up dramatically from 2007 to 2008 (48%); up only a little from 2008 to 2009 (4%), and up a bit more from 2009 to 2010 (12%). I imagine that this pattern is the result of such changes as SFX's transition from novelty in 2007 to necessity by 2008 and the increased number and variety of resources SFX gradually has acquired since 2007.
Even more interesting is the pattern of usage that's visible when the data is charted:
In every year but 2009, first quarter usage is highest in February even though February has the least number of days. I think the pattern is explained by the end of the winter break in January and spring break in March. Both breaks shorten the amount of time users, students especially, are hammering away at SFX during those months. There could be other plausible explanations of this pattern; if you've got a favorite theory I'd love to hear it. It would also be interesting to know whether other services we offer exhibit the same pattern. Help Desk transactions? Number of circulated items? Gate count?
I'm happy to share the original spreadsheet with anyone who wants to see it. Just post a comment or send me an email.