Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large
ISSN 1534-0937
Libraries · Policy · Technology · Media


Selection from Cites & Insights 9, Number 6: May 2009


Bibs & Blather

Two Million and Counting

Cites & Insights reached a milestone this year—twice. That milestone: Two million words. That’s the equivalent of anywhere from 20 to 40 typical books. It is, by any measure, a lot of blather.

I say “twice” because the past year included a fair amount of republishing, and there had been some of it before. As a raw count—including all occurrences of the masthead, “Inside this Issue” and repeated material—the count passed two million words in the January 2009 issue. Excluding “Inside this issue,” the masthead and repeated material longer than a paragraph or so, the count passed two million words in April 2009. The difference, roughly 97,000 words, accounts for just under five percent of the material.

Through January 2009, the issues totaled just under 2,500 pages; through April, just over 2,600. Page and word counts exclude the annual indices and the phantom Cites on a Plane issue.

Overall Readership

There’s a nice certainty to the word count and page count. After that, things get a little fuzzy. Cites & Insights began on the webspace that came with my AT&T dialup account; no usage figures were available. I really have no idea what the readership was like for the first two years—except that there was enough feedback to keep it going.

From late 2002 (the first issue in volume 3, published in December 2002) through early August 2006, Cites & Insights was hosted by Boise State University Libraries. During that time, there were just under 487,000 pageviews in some 546,000 sessions, representing 141,120 unique IP addresses from 157 different countries and other top-level domains.

Since mid-August 2006 (the September 2006 issue), Cites & Insights has had its own domain, hosted on LISHost. But the domain moved in mid-March 2009 from one server to another, making for a discontinuity in logging. As far as I can tell, from mid-August 2006 through mid-March 2009, there were around 808,000 pageviews in 270,000 sessions, representing just under 76,000 unique IP addresses from 158 countries and other top-level domains.

The higher pageview count and lower session count make sense: HTML versions didn’t begin until 2006 (with some retrospective conversion). It’s hard to say whether readership is growing, shrinking or roughly the same—although those numbers might suggest some shrinkage.

Most Widely-Read Issues

These figures are at best a little fuzzy, since they entirely omit the first two years and come from two different statistical packages. They’re also complicated by the HTML factor. So let’s call this “most widely-downloaded full issues from December 2002 through early March 2009.” Note that I’ve excluded PDF pageviews; to the extent that people can view PDFs without downloading them, issue readership may be undercounted.

The hot pair

You already know the most widely-downloaded issue: Volume 6 Issue 2, Library 2.0 and “Library 2.0,” with 21,952 downloads (not including all the HTML views). One other issue shows more than 10,000 downloads: Volume 3 Issue 9, Midsummer 2003. That’s also a special issue: Coping with CIPA: A Censorware Special.

A dozen issues have been downloaded 6,000 to 8,000 times. In descending order, there are four with more than 7,000 downloads: Volume 4 Issue 12, Volume 3 Issue 14, Volume 5 Issue 10, Volume 3 Issue 8. Eight more have 6,000 to 7,000: Volume 6 Issue 10, Volume 4 Issue 3, Volume 4 Issue 2, Volume 3 Issue 11, Volume 3 Issue 12, Volume 3 Issue 1, the Volume 2 index, and Volume 4 Issue 1. I have no idea what (if anything) makes these issues special.

Notably, these are mostly older issues; Cites & Insights issues keep accumulating readership over time. Another 13 issues (including one index) have from 5,000 to 5,999 downloads—and those are all from volumes 3, 4 and 5. (Looked at pessimistically, this would suggest that 2003 through 2005 were the glory years and I should quit—but I prefer “readership builds over time.”) Twenty more issues and indexes have 4,000 to 4,877 downloads.

Of the 123 issues through mid-March 2009 (115 issues plus eight indexes), 12 have fewer than 1,000 downloads and 25 have fewer than 2,000. My checkpoint for “enough readers” has, informally, been 700 or so—and no issue that’s been around more than four months fails to hit that target. Four of the 12 low-readership issues come from 2001 and 2002, meaning that many readers aren’t counted.

Most Widely-Read Recent Essays

If the issue download counts are a little fuzzy thanks to multiple sites, it gets worse for essay readership. I’ve added the HTML pageviews for essays (or, in one case, PDF downloads for the separate essay PDF) to the PDF downloads for the issues in which those essays appeared. In some special-issue cases, I didn’t prepare an HTML separate—and, of course, there aren’t any HTML separates for the first three years.

Articles with more than 8,000 “readers.”

Article

Readers

Title

v6i2a

39,460

Library 2.0 and “Library 2.0”

v5i10b

20,020

Perspective: Investigating the Biblioblogosphere

v6i10a

14,476

Perspective: Looking at Liblogs: The Great Middle

v5i13a

12,954

Perspective: Life Trumps Blogging

v4i12a

10,758

Perspective: Wikipedia and Worth

v5i10d

10,575

(C)2 Perspective: Orphan Works

v5i5a

10,422

Bibs & Blather

v4i12c

10,076

Offtopic Perspective: The Rest of the DoubleDoubles

v4i12b

9,996

Copyright Currents

v4i3c

9,804

PC Progress, July 2003-January 2004

v4i12d

9,786

Interesting & Peculiar Products

v4i12e

9,706

Copyright Perspective: IICA: Inducing to Infringe

v7i2c

9,672

Perspective: Conference Speaking: I Have a Little List

v6i4a

9,642

Perspective: Folksonomy and Dichotomy

v4i12f

9,554

Trends & Quick Takes

v7i1b

8,970

Perspective: Book Searching: OCA/GBS Update

v6i4d

8,935

PC Progress, October 2005-February 2006

v5i3b

8,934

The Library Stuff

v5i7d

8,716

Ethical Perspective: Weblogging Ethics and Impact

v6i10b

8,566

Bibs & Blather

v4i3f

8,498

Interesting & Peculiar Products

v5i7e

8,434

ACRL 2005: What's Next? Academic Libraries in a Google Environment

v6i3a

8,366

Followup Perspective: Beyond Library 2.0 and “Library 2.0”

v6i3e

8,300

(C)2 Perspective: What NC Means to Me

v6i1e

8,220

(C)2 Perspective: Will Fair Use Survive?

v5i5c

8,202

PC Progress, November 2004-March 2005

v6i4b

8,198

The Library Stuff

v5i7a

8,163

(C)3 Perspective: FMA: Watching the Way You Want

v6i9a

8,141

Bibs & Blather

v6i4e

8,120

Offtopic Perspective: 50-Movie All Stars Collection 1

v5i5b

8,092

(C)4: Locking Down Technology

v5i5d

8,051

Interesting & Peculiar Products

Articles with 7,000 to 7,999 “readers”

v5i14a

7,961

Perspective: OCA and GLP 1: Ebooks, Etext, Libraries and the Commons

v4i1b

7,930

Ebooks, Etext and PoD

v5i3f

7,930

Session Reports: ALA Midwinter 2005

v6i7a

7,896

Perspective: Books, Blogs & Style

v6i4c

7,888

(C)1: Term & Extent

v6i1c

7,846

Interesting & Peculiar Products

v4i4d

7,837

The Censorware Chronicles

v4i1c

7,824

Copyright Currents

v4i4e

7,784

Library Stuff Book Perspective: Scholarly Publishing

v4i4a

7,779

Library Access to Scholarship

v4i11a

7,744

Perspective: The Quality Contradiction

v5i10c

7,700

Perspectives: Summertime Blahs

v6i1b

7,686

Followup Perspective: OCA and GLP Redux

v6i3c

7,657

Library Stuff Perspective: Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources

v6i7e

7,646

Library Access to Scholarship

v5i10a

7,642

Bibs & Blather

v6i3b

7,625

(C)4 Perspective: Analog Hole and Broadcast Flag

v5i4b

7,536

Perspective: The Dangling Conversation

v4i11b

7,445

The Library Stuff

v4i13b

7,407

Perspective: RSS and Multimodes Revisited

v7i1d

7,402

Finding a Balance: Patrons and the Library

v4i11c

7,384

Library Stuff Perspective: Information Commons?

v6i6a

7,384

Perspective: Discovering Books

v6i1f

7,364

Trends & Quick Takes

v4i13d

7,335

Perspectives: Three Brief Pieces

v4i13c

7,247

Library Access to Scholarship

v4i13a

7,162

The Library Stuff

v6i1a

7,146

Bibs & Blather

v6i1d

7,118

Following Up and Feedback

v5i4c

7,083

Offtopic Perspective: Family Classics 50 Movie Pack, Part 1

v5i6b

7,082

disContent Perspective: Readability

v4i11d

7,075

The Good Stuff

v4i3d

7,004

Copyright Perspective: Compulsory Licensing

v6i5a

7,004

Perspectives: Seventyfive Facets

In addition, 52 articles appear to have 6,000 to 6,999 readers and 42 have 5,000 to 5,999.

Conclusions?

Not many. I haven’t tried grouping articles by topic to see whether some topics are more popular than others, partly because I don’t think basic readership should be the controlling factor in how Cites & Insights works.

My general conclusion is that, despite fewer links from other sites than issues used to get, Cites & Insights still has enough readers—and is generally still enough fun—to be worth doing. Thanks to all of you for keeping it that way.

The Rest of the Issue

I can take a hint. Maybe not rapidly, but I can take a hint. When I’ve studied liblogs and reported the results here, for free, the articles have been widely read—more than 14,000 apparent readers in one case, more than 20,000 in another case. (See above.)

When I’ve tried to do that in book form, for a modest charge, not so much: To date, 80 copies of Public Library Blogs and 45 copies of Academic Library Blogs. The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008 isn’t quite burning up the market, either, with 50 copies to date, but it’s a year newer.

Some authors find that making some or all of their books available for free improved sales of the print books. I don’t expect that to be the case for the two library blog books. In retrospect, they were not as well thought out as they could have been. If I was doing them again, they’d have more in common with The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008—but would that make any difference?

What I’m doing here is offering most of the “first half” of each library blog book for free, with almost no editing. I’m not including the individual blog descriptions and samples. I’m also not including the complete lists of blogs and institutions, since those serve no real purpose outside book form (and are already available in .xls form on the web in any case). Will I offer the “first half” of the Liblog Landscape 2007-2008 in a later issue (which, all by itself, would be a large issue)? Hard to say.

Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large, Volume 9, Number 6, Whole Issue 116, ISSN 1534-0937, a journal of libraries, policy, technology and media, is written and produced by Walt Crawford, Editorial Director of the Library Leadership Network.

Cites & Insights is sponsored by YBP Library Services, http://www.ybp.com.

Opinions herein may not represent those of Lyrasis or YBP Library Services.

Comments should be sent to waltcrawford@gmail.com. Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large is copyright © 2009 by Walt Crawford: Some rights reserved.

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URL: citesandinsights.info/civ9i6.pdf