Hi all:
To take up a thread that is emerging here....our analytics also show  
that most of our users come in from search engines, library catalogs,  
wikipedia, and sites that focus on specific subjects. The latter two  
account for tremendous interest in two finding aids from a small  
historical society with clear specialty interest. Search engine  
traffic means that the finding aids for state prison records that have  
a lot of personal names are also consistently in our top ten. This is  
consistent with Jennie's findings--it's the obscure collections that  
often generate the most attention.

So much for the notion that obscure collections at small institutions  
can't possibly be of interest to anyone!

Shat this means is that having EAD guides exposed to search engines is  
ensuring that people who are not looking for archival collections are  
finding them accidentally. And that in turn means that we have to  
present the guides in a way that those same people find them valuable  
and useful--not by putting in notes that explain what a finding aid  
is, but by presenting them in a way that makes their value obvious.  
And we also have to accept that coming across the finding aid may or  
may not lead to the outcomes we envision (they call/write and ask  
about the collection, they come in to use it).

It's a different use case than we usually think of. It's more  
expansive. And that, I think, is a really good thing. But it does  
challenge us to meet the needs of more divers audiences, all of which  
have their own goals.

Best, Jodi

On Jun 23, 2010, at 4:52 AM, Jennie Anne Levine Knies wrote:

> Joyce,
> I think your suggestions are very helpful, as have been other  
> comments on this topic.  Thank you - something as seemingly simple  
> as putting a brief explanation of a finding aid at the top of the  
> page may have huge benefit.  Yes, I understand that when it says  
> that 58% of our users come from Google, it means that 58% of our  
> users are coming from a Google search!  However, you interpreted my  
> comment correctly in that I was wondering "What does that tell me  
> about how users are accessing our finding aids and what can I do to  
> make them more usable for that large audience?"
> Another interesting tidbit - in the last month almost the same  
> number of people came to us from our online catalog as did from  
> Wikipedia...  and it wasn't many in either case. That said, taking  
> three minutes to look into this explained to me why one of our more  
> "obscure" collections keeps getting hit - it's because of the  
> wikipedia link that someone (not me) entered.
> I would really love to have the time to think about this more.  But  
> am grateful to the thoughts already presented in this thread, and am  
> hoping that, combined with Chris's article, can get me motivated to  
> focus on it more...
> Jennie
> ~*~
> Jennie Levine Knies
> Manager, Digital Collections
> 2216 Hornbake Library
> University of Maryland
> College Park, MD 20742
> Email: [log in to unmask]
> Tel: 301-314-2558
> Fax: 301-314-2709
> ________________________________________
> From: Encoded Archival Description List [[log in to unmask]] On  
> Behalf Of Joyce Chapman [[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 4:01 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Google Analytics
> Dear Jennie,
> In answer to your question "What does it MEAN?" I have several  
> thoughts.
> The first is that this is exactly the kind of situation where
> collective power would be far more effective than individual
> institutions attempting to dredge up resources to analyze their data.
> You went to the effort of implementing analytics and you've got 3
> years of data, but you may not have the time or staff power to conduct
> analysis on your data. There are many others out there who possess
> data, but who do not have time/staff/data analysis skills to conduct
> meaningful analysis. For each person out there with data but no
> analysis, there is someone else with the time/money/staff/data
> analysis skills, but not the data. There would be enormous benefit if
> we as a profession had a centralized location where data could be
> freely shared. Not only would this encourage collaboration and reduce
> time spent reinventing the wheel (in terms of people trying to figure
> out if someone's already collected data on a specific topic that the
> want to analyze), but it would encourage cross-institutional data
> analysis, producing more meaningful findings for the community that
> would aid us all in  data-driven decision making.
> To answer your specific question, the fact that 58% of your finding
> aid visitors came from Google means that 58% of users interacting with
> your finding aids probably weren't looking specifically for archival
> materials and probably have never heard of a finding aid when they
> landed on your page. How can you use that information to improve the
> user experience? You might want to re-examine your finding aid Web
> display from a usability perspective that takes "novice" finding aid
> users into account, and ask yourself the following:
> Does the opening screen of the finding aid provide links or
> explanation regarding...
> * what this document is?
> * what institutions this page is related to?
> * where materials are physically located?
> * how a user would request to view the actual materials described?
> * who the user would contact to find out more?
> Finding aid web displays often assume that users approaching finding
> aids did so purposefully, when in fact, statistics like yours show
> that a great percentage of them are arriving from Google searches,
> possibly with no prior knowledge of finding aid or archives. I'm
> seeing an increasing trend in the addition of a "what is this
> document?" statement to finding aids that seeks to answer many of the
> questions I listed above. In a usability study I conducted last year,
> I found that the addition of such a statement greatly aided "novice"
> finding aid users. For an example statement, see any finding aid at
> UNC-CH, for example:
> Joyce
> On Tue, Jun 22, 2010 at 2:34 PM, Jennie Levine Knies  
> <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Dear Nathan,
>> We have implemented Google Analytics on our finding aids. The code  
>> itself is
>> easy enough to add to a page.  We added it to our Footer include  
>> file, so it
>> shows up on every finding aid and auxiliary page within the
>> site.
>> I check it periodically, however, have not had the time to really  
>> analyze
>> the findings.  All I do is occasionally look and see what people are
>> searching on and what our most popular finding aids are in terms of  
>> number
>> of hits.  I have three years worth of data, but so far, have done  
>> nothing
>> with it. I initially set it up because I saw a great presentation  
>> about it
>> by Chris Prom at SAA a few years ago.  I was all fired up and ready  
>> to start
>> working on it, but by the time I had collected enough data, I lost  
>> the
>> fire...
>> I would be curious to hear if people use specific aspects of Google
>> Analytics, and what they think the information really tells us. I  
>> also have
>> not set up any "Goals" because I never had time to sit down and  
>> figure out
>> exactly how they all work (I sort of feel like I need to take a  
>> statistics
>> class before embarking).
>> I keep trying to find a graduate student who would be willing to  
>> take my
>> data and make some sense out of it!
>> Jennie
>> p.s. A quick look tells me that in the last month, 58% of visitors  
>> to our
>> finding aids website came via Google... but what does it MEAN?
>> ~*~
>> Jennie Levine Knies
>> Manager, Digital Collections
>> 2216 Hornbake Library
>> University of Maryland
>> College Park, MD 20742
>> (301)314-2558 TEL (301)314-2709 FAX
>> [log in to unmask] E-MAIL
>> Nathan Tallman wrote, On 6/22/2010 2:01 PM:
>>> Happy Tuesday Everyone,
>>> Just wondering if anyone has tried using Google Analytics with their
>>> finding aids.  I was thinking it would be easy enough to insert the
>>> necessary code in the stylesheet template and then you'd would be  
>>> able to
>>> get some good data on finding aid use, as well as user
>>> browser/network/hardware capabilities.
>>> When I started my current position, I implemented Analytics on  
>>> several
>>> pages of our website.  Our public finding aids are all HTML at the  
>>> moment
>>> and I didn't want to hand edit each individual document, so chose  
>>> not to
>>> implement Analytics in finding aids for the time being.  We've  
>>> recently
>>> started an EAD project thought and this idea came back to me.
>>> If you have implemented Google Analytics for your finding aids,  
>>> I'd love
>>> to hear about it!
>>> Best,
>>> Nathan
> --
> Joyce Chapman
> NCSU Libraries
> Metadata and Cataloging/
> Digital Library Initiatives
> [log in to unmask]

Jodi Allison-Bunnell
Program Manager, Northwest Digital Archives
Orbis Cascade Alliance
418 Woodford
Missoula, MT 59801
[log in to unmask]
(406) 829-6528
fax (860) 540-8281
Researcher website:
Member website: