Frequently Asked Questions about NC LIVE Usage Reports

Below are some common questions about NC LIVE usage reports and the changes made to those reports in 2015. Please note that you can find the full list of Data Definitions (i.e., what does FT-views mean for different resources) here. If you have any other questions please contact the NC LIVE Help Desk.

Why do 2015 usage reports have very different numbers as compared to 2014?

Beginning in January 2015, NC LIVE began creating library usage reports using COUNTER-compliant vendor data when available. This change was made to allow for more consistent and comparable usage definitions across resource vendors. NC LIVE provided updated usage data definitions that detail which vendor reports are used and what constitutes a search, session, full-text view, and full-text view plus abstract view for each NC LIVE resource.

This change, combined with discovery service changes made in 2015, means that reliable direct comparisons cannot be made between resources NC LIVE licensed in 2012-2014 (such as EBSCOhost research databases), and different resources licensed in 2015-2017 (such as ProQuest research databases). This is because the usage definitions (i.e. what constitutes a search, session, full-text view, or full-text view plus abstract) for different vendors are not necessarily the same.

Why are my library’s search numbers extremely low compared to 2014?

Differences in the way that NC LIVE’s previous discovery service (EDS) and current discovery service (Summon) affect search totals in individual databases accounts for the very different search totals some libraries see for some resources in 2015. Where EDS would search every database in a profile every time a search or search refinement was performed, the structure of Summon does not result in as many instances of all databases being searched at once. For some libraries this greatly reduced the number of searches reported.

Because of the impact of discovery on search totals, libraries should be cautious about adding up searches across different databases to report as a single search total. Because one user’s query may register as a search for multiple databases, adding up those numbers will count one query multiple times.

Additionally, NC LIVE usage reports only show searches for individual libraries across our databases, but do not include Summon searches. We do not currently have a reliable method to differentiate Summon users by institution, so those search numbers are omitted from usage reports.

Does this mean usage reports are not useful for comparing ‘old’ and ‘new’ resources?

It is always difficult to compare usage of one vendor’s resource to another. Factors including discovery methods, vendor data definitions, and local integrations can mean a comparison between two resources from different vendors is not informative---like comparing “apples to oranges.”

However, comparing usage of a resource to itself over time with reliable and consistent data can be very useful. The change to COUNTER-compliant vendor data when available ensures that this type of comparison is reliable, and could even allow for more accurate cross-vendor comparisons in the future.

Which resources have the same data definitions for both 2014 and 2015?

The following resources use the same measures both before and after 2015:


  • Alexander Street Press

  • Chadwyck-Healey

  • CQ Researcher and CQ Weekly

  • eBooks on EBSCOhost

  • HeritageQuest

  • LearningExpress Library

  • Morningstar

  • MyiLibrary

  • NC LIVE Video Collection

  • SimplyMap

The following resources were available before 2015, but the data definitions used to measure them were changed in 2015:

  • Gale Infotrac Newsstand - changed to COUNTER data

  • Gale Virtual Reference Library - changed to COUNTER data

  • Wall Street Journal - changed to COUNTER data ***this resource is now a title in ABI-INFORM and title-level data is available via the ProQuest Administrator Module***

Can my library see our vendor reports?

Any library is welcome to access usage statistics directly from vendors, including title-level and other detailed reports not included in the NC LIVE usage reports. If you aren’t sure how to access the administrative model for a vendor, please contact the NC LIVE Help Desk.

How is NC LIVE tracking usage statistics to make decisions?

At the November 2014 Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) meeting, the committee discussed and finalized the RAC Resources Assessment Plan. The plan calls for an annual review of specific usage data reports, with one pre-determined measure of use per resource used as a point of comparison year over year.

Vendor-reported usage statistics are just one measure the RAC uses to make resource selection decisions. Other data sources are reviewed to get a holistic picture of member library needs including member library feedback, discovery service statistics, available funding, and resource cost.