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Dynamic and Immersive Visualizations of Library User Research Activity Using Data from EZProxy Log Files

Mr Peter Green,
Dr Pauline Joseph, Ms Amanda Bellenger, Mr Aaron Kent, Mr Matthew Robinson

Curtin University

It is common for academic libraries to manage authenticated access to their extensive scholarly journal and e-book subscriptions through a ‘man in the middle’ URL re-writing proxy service called EZproxy. This so ware solution has been widely deployed in libraries and has been a standard solution to authenticated access to third party subscription scholarly resources for many years. In the process of managing a library user’s access to the third party scholarly resource the EZproxy so ware creates a log entry for each web request in the Combined HTTP Log format. The Curtin Library has retained at least five years of the log files which are extensive, with approximately 30 million lines written per month. The log files capture information for each request such as the IP address, client ID, date and time, HTTP request and response and so forth. This is information that is rich but difficult and challenging to comprehend due to its size and technical complexity. However this large dataset presents an opportunity to learn more about the information seeking behaviour of Curtin Library clients, but making sense of the data without losing the richness is a key part of the challenge. Traditional analysis of such data tends to produce at aggregated usage statistics that do not reveal the complex interactions of individual user searching activity across time and space.

In collaboration with Dr Pauline Joseph, Senior Lecturer (School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry) and with funding from the Curtin HIVE (Hub for Immersive Visualisation and eResearch) Research Internships program to employ a computer science student for a ten week period the Curtin Library undertook the project of creating visualisations using this rich data of user research activity.
The resulting pilot visualisations give an insight into the power of dynamic and immersive visualisations to reveal new understandings of the information seeking behaviour of Curtin Library clients.