Analytics Dashboards provide New Data for DPLA Members

By Audrey Altman, August 15, 2018.
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This week, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) released a new, custom-built Analytics Dashboard for our Member Hubs. Through this easy-to-use web-based dashboard, our Members now have one-stop access to up-to-date information about how their rich collections of cultural heritage materials are being used. By bringing together data about website traffic, public usage from our API (application programming interface), metadata completeness, and more—tailored for each of our Members—DPLA now provides our partners with a more complete view of content discovery and use than ever before.

A dashboard page showing an overview of usage and metadata quality

Historically, DPLA has collected and reported limited usage data through Google Analytics. As part of our Membership Program, which launched last fall, we asked our Members how we could improve our reporting and better meet our partners’ needs. One of the things we heard was that to assist strategic decision making and help demonstrate value to their stakeholders, our Members wanted a more in-depth look at how their materials were being used throughout DPLA’s public access points. After conducting a survey and focus group to assess Members’ needs, we designed and implemented the Analytics Dashboard to provide more data points and improved context explaining the data’s significance.

The new Analytics Dashboards include:

  • Usage data for the DPLA’s public API. The public API is used by third-party applications and researchers. The Analytics Dashboard shares previously unavailable data about the use of Hubs’ and contributors’ data through the API.
  • Data for contributing institutions. Each Member Hub can now share content usage information with their contributing institutions, so each library, museum, archive, or other cultural heritage organization can better understand how their content is used in DPLA and potentially identify ways to improve discovery of their materials.

Table showing comparative data for contributors within a Member Hub

  • Metadata quality information related to usage. Some components of metadata records, such as subjects and descriptions, are used by DPLA’s discovery systems to help surface records in the context of keyword searches. Metadata quality information combined with usage statistics can help Members develop strategies to improve their records.

Chart showing metadata completeness in fields important for search and discovery

  • Popular keyword search terms. Search terms used by users of DPLA’s website and public API can inform collection development strategies and help members understand what sorts of materials and information are of interest to DPLA’s users.
  • CSV downloads. CSV downloads of large data sets will allow members to perform their own analysis and discover new uses for the data.

The Member Network has been intimately involved in the dashboard’s creation. A small group of representatives from Member Hubs provided regular feedback on prototypes and feature development. The Assessment Working Group helped test and launch the dashboard, will collect feedback from the network, and will work with DPLA staff to ensure long-term success of the project.

This work is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.