Friday, July 23, 2010

University Libraries’ Strategic Initiatives Result in Increased Use of the Digital Media Repository by Students, Faculty, and Researchers Globally

The Ball State University Digital Media Repository (DMR),, a project of the University Libraries, allows students, faculty, and global community researchers to access primary source materials as varied as historic photographs, oral history interviews, films, and three-dimensional models.

In order to increase use of the repository, librarians, archivists, and system administrators have employed listserv announcements, Wikipedia, blogs, Facebook, and other social networking tools in addition to library instruction, description improvement, and metadata harvesting efforts. Google Analytics, a freely available tool that gathers Web site traffic statistics, provides insight into the efficacy of the University Libraries’ digital asset publicity efforts.

As the number of collections has grown and diversified, local and international researchers have made use of the resources for scholarly, professional, and personal pursuits. In fact, since the 2007 spring semester, the repository has seen a 67.6% increase in site visits in comparison to data from the spring 2010 semester. Furthermore, data from the spring 2007 and spring 2010 semesters indicates a 31% increase in the number of different countries and territories from which the repository was accessed.

The consistent growth of the DMR’s site visits from the local and international communities suggests that efforts to improve digital asset visibility and discoverability through increased use of social networking tools, as well as library instruction and email announcements, are effective.

Researchers find primary sources housed in the Digital Media Repository by directly navigating to the Web site, discovering a link to the DMR from another site, and conducting Web searches. A greater percentage of researchers discovered the DMR in the 2009-2010 academic year through referral sites, rather than search engines. The increased influence of referring sites is consistent with the University Libraries’ efforts to publicize digital collections in online environments such as Facebook and Wikipedia, as well as the utilization of metadata harvesting projects, such as OAIster.

For more information, contact Carolyn F. Runyon, Archivist for Digital Development and University Records,, 765-285-5078.