Money Well Spent

Fenno-Ugrica collection was released in June 2013 to support the research of Uralic studies in humanities. At that time, there were around 700-800 downloads on the monthly basis, which wasn’t that bad, I reckon. Actually, I was rather happy to notice that there are people who are using our stuff, even though some might consider the amount of monthly downloads as low.

18 months ago, there were around 100 monograph and 50 newspaper titles freely accessible in our collection. Now, the collection has grown rapidly during 2014 and consists of more than 1100 monographs and 100 newspapers in 17 different languages.

I had always considered our collection as a long tail product, but something really odd and pleasant took place in 2014. During the spring and summer, we saw the increased traffic in our service. Once we published more previously unstudied material in Fenno-Ugrica and improved our communication in social media (VKontakte and Twitter etc), the public started to use our material more and more. As a consequence of these actions, the monthly use leapfrogged close to 20 000 downloads in June, September and October. This week we exceeded the milestone of 100 000 downloads in overall. Fenno-Ugrica is currently one of the most-used digital collection of the National Library of Finland. This is something that makes us to smile cheesy!

Of course, we are proud of this. It is a clear sign that we have managed to make our name and the collection has its significance among the researchers and wider audiences. But are the statistics that important? Even though huge impacts on society and research are expected, but we don’t really know yet what the impact will be and how valuable that is. Is the money that we received from Kone Foundation to realize this digitization project well-spent?

As Lutz Bornmann writes, “Governments all over the world are contemplating the question of where they should distribute public money (to education or to defence, for example). Distribution of money over a number of different areas always makes an issue, implicitly or explicitly, of the impact which can be achieved with investment in any one of them. Science is also affected by this governmental interest in impact; the issue is not only the impact of research on research itself, but on other areas of society. Citations are traditionally used to measure the impact of research on research. It is as yet unclear how the impact of research on other areas of society can be measured.”

Since the our collection’s impact on society and research is rather impossible to measure in numbers, we (as a library) should get beyond number games and think about the long tail again. Once the digital resources and tools for enriching the data will be used, the change will take place and a wider set of opportunities will be available to different communities, like native-speakers and academic. To sum this idea of Simon Tanner in other words: we publish and you decide how you would benefit out of Fenno-Ugrica.

Wishing you all infinite happy new year!

Yours &c.,

Jussi-Pekka

 

1,309 thoughts on “Money Well Spent

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