Analyzing Digital Collections Entrances: What Gets Used and Why It Matters

  • Paromita Biswas Western Carolina University
  • Joel Marchesoni Western Carolina University


This paper analyzes usage data from Hunter Library's digital collections using Google Analytics for a period of twenty-seven months from October 2013 through December 2015. The authors consider this data analysis to be important for identifying collections that receive the largest number of visits. We argue this data evaluation is important in terms of better informing decisions for building digital collections that will serve user needs. The authors also study the benefits of harvesting to sites such as the DPLA and consider this paper will contribute to the overall literature on Google Analytics and its use by libraries.


A landing page refers to the homepage of a collection.

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A single view of an item in a digital collection.

Visits to the site that began from another site with an item page being the first page viewed.

Keywords are words visitors used to find the Library’s website when using a search engine. A list of these keywords is provided by Google Analytics.

A session is defined as a “group of interactions that take place on a website within a given time frame” and can include multiple kinds of interactions like page views, social interactions, and economic transactions. In Google Analytics, a session by default lasts 30 minutes though one can adjust this length to last a few seconds or several hours. "How a Session Is Defined in Analytics," Analytics Help, accessed May 20, 2016,

Locations were studied in terms of mostly cities and states.

The WCU acronym in front of collection names stands for Western Carolina University.

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The percentage is based on the total referral count a collection gets--for example--a 6% DPLA referral count for Cherokee Traditions would mean that of all the referrals that this collection gets, DPLA accounts for 6% of the total referrals.

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How to Cite
Biswas, P., & Marchesoni, J. (2016). Analyzing Digital Collections Entrances: What Gets Used and Why It Matters. Information Technology and Libraries, 35(4), 19-34.