Who says we're not busy? Library web page usage as a measure of public service activity

Jeanie M. Welch (University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Publication date: 1 December 2005



This paper aims to discuss the viability of web server statistics for library‐generated web pages as measures of public service activity. For years librarians have gathered, reported, and analyzed traditional measures such as reference transactions, patron visits, book and reserve item circulation, and interlibrary loan transactions. Since the advent of web‐based databases and services, some traditional usage statistics have declined. Such declines can have political and financial implications for libraries.


The author did a literature review, studied a suggested revision to the NISO Z39.7‐1995 Library Statistics standard that includes counting usage of library‐generated web pages, participated in a task force on web statistics, and analyzed library web site statistics at a university library.


The recommendations of a task force on reporting web page usage statistics in an academic library are discussed. The reporting of the usage of library‐generated web pages can be a useful indicator of increased patron contacts and provide a more complete picture of public service activities.

Research limitations/implications

This is a new area for library statistics, and its impact on the perceptions of libraries as sources of information in the digital age has yet to be proven.


This paper is useful to libraries which wish to integrate web page usage statistics into their output measures and reporting procedures.



Welch, J. (2005), "Who says we're not busy? Library web page usage as a measure of public service activity", Reference Services Review, Vol. 33 No. 4, pp. 371-379. https://doi.org/10.1108/00907320510631526

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