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UNYSLA Event Recap: Researchers Citation Habits and SLA Loyalty

By Sara Brown

Researchers Citation Habits:
Jeremy Cusker, Earth Sciences and Engineering Outreach Librarian at Cornell University, started the spring 2012 UNYSLA meeting by presenting his method for analyzing the citation habits of researchers, a feature not currently available Web of Science as a designated tool or function. This method enables him to gain a basic understanding of his department’s needs and research interests and, as it provides an overview of the research cited by faculty, it is useful for collection development purposes.

The method (slides available) requires searching for publications of all faculty within a department and then manipulating the data outside of Web of Science in order to create a readable report. The report allows analysis of how the citations compare with the stated priorities of the department as well as how faculty’s citation patterns compare with top journal listings. Further, comparing the results with the library’s holdings reveals whether current subscriptions meet faculty’s needs or whether they must look elsewhere for research.

While the method does have some limits – it does not capture the journals that researchers read but do not cite, it can be skewed by one researcher or by heavy amounts of self-citation, and it will not capture citations from faculty members’ articles that aren’t indexed in Web of Science – it nevertheless provides information that is highly valuable to librarians working in unfamiliar fields and helpful for any academic librarians who wish to analyze its data for collection development purposes.

Jill Hurste-Wahl explaining the SLA Loyalty Project

SLA Loyalty Project:
Later in the morning, Jill Hurst-Wahl spoke about the SLA Loyalty Project. By working with James Kane, a loyalty consultant, SLA has determined that its membership is divided between these four types:

  • Antagonists express anger and tend to complain about the organization but nevertheless remain part of it. The benefit of antagonists to an organization is that they can be drivers of change.
  • Transactional members will attend events if they provide an immediate usefulness, but they do not form any long-term or emotional relationships with SLA.
  • Predisposed members are involved in an organization so long as participation is convenient or comfortable, but they won’t go out of their way to participate.
  • Loyal members consistently attend meetings, conduct outreach, volunteer, and generally go out of their way to contribute to SLA. They are dedicated to the organization’s continued success.

Currently, antagonists are approximately 6%, transaction and predisposed combined 88%, and loyal members 6% of SLA’s membership. Ideally, an organization’s loyal members should make up 20% of the total.

SLA would like to strengthen relationships with all members, but especially with students, vendors and the organization’s leadership, in order to provide a stable and energized base for continued growth. The key to doing so is communication with current and prospective members in order to make them feel welcomed and valued. Creating personal connections is crucial to cultivating a loyal membership. Further, providing opportunities to be active at a comfortable level will encourage those who might otherwise feel like they don’t have the time or experience to participate. While SLA has been successful in strengthening its online presence through venues like Facebook, developing and deepening personal connections will increase current members’ commitment while at the same time drawing in new members.


Sara Brown has just finished her first year at the University at Buffalo after having worked in various capacities for multiple education and community-based non-profit organizations. Currently she is a research graduate assistant for a Meaningful Concept Display knowledge discovery project. Her interests are varied and include creativity within knowledge management, usability, access and representation for marginalized communities, and library advocacy. As a Student Shadow, Sara appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed the chance to learn more about UNYSLA and to meet practicing librarians and related professionals. Sara says “Librarianship continues to inspire me with the range of positions in which its skills can apply, and experiences like this only leave me more enthusiastic about the future of the field!”

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