Monographic Use Study


The Monographic Use Study is an analysis of 10 years of use of the monograph collection at the NCSU Libraries.


  • Darby Orcutt, Collections & Research Strategy (formerly Collection Management)
  • Genya O'Gara, Former member of Special Collections Research Center

Study Details

In 2009, the NCSU Libraries, as other academic research libraries, recognized two potentially historic changes underway in library collections: the immediate threat of greatly diminished financial resources in a troubled economy, and the increasingly rapid transition of users and marketplace towards digital formats. With dual goals of fiscal responsibility (through cuts, selection efficiencies and more strongly aligning acquisition with use) and predicting trends in monographic use (print and electronic) in the increasing hybrid/digital environment, we conducted an ambitious collection-wide monographic use study. Recognizing this key moment in our collection's print to digital shift, we established a print monographic use data set that is comprehensive, covers a decade of use, offers a baseline for future comparisons, and allows us to represent data in new and useful ways; for example, we color-coded the copious data to facilitate selectors' rapid apprehension of large amounts of information, allowing easy visual comprehension of trends in use.

Serving immediate needs, the use study allowed NCSU Libraries selectors to quickly assess collecting patterns with regard to use metrics, and much more easily make decisions, especially regarding approval plan coverage of particular call number ranges. We have used the study to seek to answer questions including: How may print use predict e-use? How do use patterns differ by discipline? How may historic use predict future use? Furthermore, the study informs our decision-making regarding our developing "purchase on demand" ebook program. Finally, supporting longer-term needs, this study serves as a baseline for future study of how monographic use may change in The NCSU Libraries as a result of the digital shift.

Reports and Presentations

Orcutt, Darby and Genya O'Gara. 2010. "Looking forward by looking back: Books at the end of the book." Charleston Conference, November 5, 2010.