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Assessing large-scale digitization using Web analytics

Emily Lapworth (Department of Digital Collections, University of Nevada Las Vegas University Libraries, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)

Digital Library Perspectives

ISSN: 2059-5816

Article publication date: 29 March 2021

Issue publication date: 21 May 2021




The purpose of this study is to assess the use of digital collections created via the large-scale digitization of archival collections. The large-scale digitization method specifically examined is the reuse of archival description from finding aids to create digital collections that consist mainly of compound digital objects, equivalent to a folder of items, minimally described at the aggregate level. This paper compares Web analytics data for two large-scale digital collections and one digital collection with rich, item-level description.


This study analyzed one year of Web analytics for three digital collections. The main research question of this study is: Are digital collections of minimally described compound objects used less than digital collections of richly described single objects?


This study found that the large-scale digital collections analyzed received less use than the traditional item-level collection, when examined at the item level. At the object level, the large-scale collections did not always receive less use than the traditional item-level collection.

Research limitations/implications

This study is limited to three different digital collections from one institution. Web analytics also represent a limited interpretation of “use.”

Practical implications

This study presents a method for other institutions to assess their own large-scale digitization efforts and contributes to the profession’s understanding of the impact of large-scale digitization.


This paper is unique because it uses Web analytics to compare the use of large-scale digital collections to the use of traditional boutique digital collections.



Lapworth, E. (2021), "Assessing large-scale digitization using Web analytics", Digital Library Perspectives, Vol. 37 No. 2, pp. 133-150.



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