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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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As the demand for library assessment grows, academic libraries are becoming more interested in Web analytics. Data are automatically gathered and provide information about a wide variety of online interactions. Libraries have long used simple counts such as visits and page views, but have more recently begun to choose strategic benchmarks, also known as key performance indicators (KPIs). Many common KPIs were created for commercial websites and are challenging to adapt for libraries. However, the underlying concepts are sufficiently valuable that libraries should explore their use. By evaluating the validity of web metrics, libraries can further the development of standards and benchmarks to support future investigations. This article discusses how commercial web metrics might be adapted for use in academic libraries. First, the limitations of web analytics are presented. Major key performance indicators used in the commercial sector are reviewed in the academic library context. Finally, the article discusses how the various indicators might support specific library website goals and decisions and uses local data to illustrate one example case. As libraries choose web analytic methods, they should deliberately evaluate their validity. Over time, this will slowly build the profession’s ability to use web analytics more effectively for library assessment.


This is a preprint of Fagan, Jody Condit. 2014. “The Suitability of Web Analytics Key Performance Indicators in the Academic Library Environment.” Journal of Academic Librarianship 40(1):25-34.