The NDP Web site is the place most people will go to log in to the NDP, but we hope that you will take time to go there for other reasons. Like the NDP, there is a lot going on there. We are using this Web site as a means of communicating new discoveries and analytical findings, giving help to subscribers, answering questions, and providing documentation to the NDP.
Let’s take a look at what you can do while you are there.
Over on the right are links to the analysis of the NCES public library data I mentioned in the last issue of Sirsi OneSource with the State Rank Order Tables and the analysis of trends affecting U.S. public libraries. I have been adding more analysis about public library trends, and we have a plan to keep doing more on an ongoing basis – so keep checking back. The latest analysis for August 1 resulted from my looking at figures for income and expenditures and led to my conclusion that we appear to be “eating our seed corn.” The earlier trends I had looked at showed increased use of libraries and circulations but looking at the finances was sobering and provides some explanation for the decline in staffing that was discussed in the trend analysis on June 10. More is being done on less.
Along the left side of the main page, you see links to the blog that we will be using to exchange information. Below that is the button that leads to the form to fill out. When you submit it, someone will be in touch to handle the details. I think now might be a good time to fill out the form. I’ll wait here for you while you do that….
Good. That was easy, wasn’t it? Once your subscription is activated, you can log in and enjoy the capabilities of the NDP and be an empowered data maven. Please use your new powers wisely.
Back to our tour. Help leads to FAQs on how to do different things with the NDP. We are in the process of putting some animations here both for subscribers who wish to see how to use the interface and for those of you who have not yet subscribed and are curious about what it looks like and to get a taste of its capabilities.
Underneath the links to the NCES analysis are links to sample reports to give you an idea of what they look like and a few of the topics covered.
Let’s start with the links up at the top. The first is “Why NDP?,” and it gives the background on where the data come from and even has a diagram that shows how the servers are set up for those interested in the underlying technology. “Who’s Involved” includes a list of all the libraries that have agreed to contribute data. So far we have loaded data on the collections and circulations for 52 systems with about 500 libraries, but you can see the whole list here. On the left see links to “How to Contribute,” where you can sign up for your library and “Accepted Data Sets,” which outlines the data we are collecting in the NDP – if you are curious what kinds of data are in the core of the NDP, this is a good place to look. A more detailed version of this document, the schema, was used to add the data from the Hickory Public Library, Hickory, North Carolina, to the NDP. This library is a Dynix library and adding it to the NDP was a proof of concept for this schema. The NDP is designed to accept data from ILSs that can produce data in the format specified in the schema, and we will add data from more than just SirsiDynix libraries.
“What the NDP Offers” is our next stop, and you can see here some of the types of reports that you can generate if you are a subscriber. I think, though, that most people who see the NDP and work with it find the astonishing variety of data compelling, and they go off and come up with all sorts of insights and share them with other subscribers.
“About the Data” is the part that makes my heart go pitty-pat, but I know that most of you will not be much interested in the gory details of documentation, or a discussion of a fascinating – well, I think so – aspect of data collections, that is, data anomalies. The intellectual precursor to the NDP is the rich and important literature on library use. I attempt on this page to summarize it briefly.
Of course, the early researchers did not have the powerful computers and databases we have, so we can often do things with the NDP with a few mouse clicks that would have been impossible even a few years ago. I have often wondered what Herman Fussler and Julian Simon, authors of the landmark Patterns in the Use of Books in Large Research Libraries would have thought if they could see the NDP. Excited, I believe and hope because now, finally, we have a tool to build on their work and the work of others to gain understanding of how communities and their libraries interact with each other. Our new understandings will make both better.
Those are the main stops on our tour, and I hope you will come back as we continue to update the Web page and add data to the NDP.