woensdag 22 oktober 2014

MOOC: learning and instruction: Tableau and library use.

On October 20, 2014 a new MOOC course "Data, Analytics and Learning" ,hashtag #dalmooc, started. I take part in this course. In addition to a new approach with regard to the process of learning itself, there is also the usual presentation of the course, thus with video, text, references to relevant literature and assignments.

One of the first tools asked to be studied is Tableau, a tool to examine, analyze and present data in an visually appealing and very informative manner.  Luckily, participants to the course get a code which can be used to install the full desktop version of the software, at least during the course (until January 2015). To be clear, Tableau is not free software.

After Googling around looking for instructions, manuals and the like, I realized there were no example files shown or used in Tableau instruction videos, which could be related to libraries, or more specifically, to OPACs used in libraries. As I work in the library of the Peace Palace I thought to collect some library data and use it in Tableau, just as an exercise.

Every time our link resolver is used, some data is stored in a database, We use a MongoDB database for this purpose. At the time of this writing we have collected a little more than half a million of these documents. We store among other things a time stamp, country of user based on ip, general subject information and short bibliographic information. Although I know that it is possible to connect Tableau to a MongoDB server using a special ODBC connector, I will still use an excel file -to keep things simple- in Tableau to generate some also very simple graphics.

The file contains just country, general subject in coded format, i.e. a number, day number and will be limited to link resolver use in 2014. With these we still have some 370.000 rows!

We see the most populair subject, not surprisingly, is 'European Union (42)' the second popular subject is 'Human Rights (60)' and not so popular is 'Mutual Cooperation in Criminal Matters (147)'.

Let us focus on 'Human Rights' and see which countries are the most interested in this subject, based on the number of clicks per country.

For contrast the subject 'History' and please remember the sizes of the dots are relevant to the subject, they do not represent actual numbers:

This is all very interesting, because we have here an indication of what our users look for and where they come from. But also interesting is, to see whether the library staff takes the interests of the patrons into account while acquiring documents for their collection? That is a subject for another blog.

To conclude. With Tableau it is easy to understand what is important or interesting to students and scholars using our library OPAC and / or link resolver. And I just scratched the surface of this software....

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