14 Feb 2024

UCD Library's experience with the Celus usage statistics tool

This article is co-authored by John Paul Kiernan (Acquisitions Librarian) and Catherine Ryan (Collections Support Librarian) in UCD Library.

Illustration of a computer screen showing graphs and statistics
Image by 200 Degrees from Pixabay

UCD Library has looked into several usage statistics tools over the years including products like JUSP and EBSCO Usage Consolidation. We were impressed with their functionality and reporting features. One drawback at the time, and this has likely improved since, was that the tools did not work with a majority of the publishers we had subscriptions with, and this would have resulted in us undertaking a substantial amount of data harvesting and analysis ourselves. Funding issues also prevented us from trying one out.

Not having a tool to undertake even some of the work related to usage gathering and analysis created many challenges:

  • Collecting usage reports across a multitude of publisher platforms, either manually or through local configuration of automated harvesting protocol (SUSHI) was very time-consuming.
  • Providing usage statistics for the annual Sconul Return in particular, was a significant burden on e-resources staff.
  • Our management team did not have all the data they needed for evidence-based decisions about our collections.
  • An in-house solution for gathering and tallying data had limited reporting capabilities and required ongoing maintenance and recurrent investment of time.
  • Tracking and understanding usage across a broad range of resource types and formats, and of non-COUNTER compliant resources was difficult.

Our interest in usage statistics tools was again piqued in May 2023, when the IReL consortium invited members to an introductory webinar on Celus. The consortium is using Celus to manage and report on IReL usage statistics, and to facilitate IReL member access to this data.

Celus (
https://www.celus.net/) is a tool for automated harvesting and analysis of COUNTER and non-COUNTER statistics. It was created by Big Dig Data, a private company registered in the Czech Republic, in cooperation with the Czech National Library of Technology. Big Dig Data is also an active member in Project COUNTER's Technical Advisory Group.

Following the webinar and some engagement with the Celus team, we could see the potential benefits of using the tool.

  • One platform for all our usage statistics, current and historical – COUNTER, non-COUNTER, local subscriptions and IReL – would provide an overview that has eluded us thus far.
  • The tool’s integration with the COUNTER Registry would reduce workload associated with SUSHI configuration.
  • Availability of deeper analytical tools would help inform collection management and development decisions, publisher negotiations, and help to monitor trends over time.
  • The tool’s intuitive dashboard for running reports would facilitate wider access to data by library staff and help improve our communications about usage to the University.

A business case was made, and funding approved, enabling UCD Library to become the first IReL member to adopt Celus to manage and report on its own institutional data in June 2023.

Implementation was relatively straightforward and completed by the end of Summer 2023. As a first step, Celus provided a spreadsheet template for us to complete with our SUSHI credentials. They had pre-populated this template with credentials for publisher platforms already set up for IReL, so we had to add our credentials for UCD’s subscribed/purchased platforms only. We had these to hand as we had spent some time collating our credentials during Autumn 2022 and many of these were still working. In all, over 100 publisher platforms were set up on our Celus instance, representing most of our subscriptions and purchased content. Celus then created accounts for colleagues who would require access. Once our instance and was set up, we decided to harvest our data back to 2021.

To evaluate the tool and to become more familiar with it, we set ourselves the goal of using it for our Sconul Return usage statistics submission. We had some further training with Celus to specifically address how best to approach the Return, given it requires us to report on the ebooks and journals that UCD Library pays for only (i.e. excluding IReL).

We experimented with the tool’s tagging feature, tagging individual titles and collections to see if we could identify and report on UCD usage only. However, we quickly realised it would require a lot more time to set up fully and would require ongoing maintenance of title lists that we weren’t willing to commit to at this time.

In the end, we used the tool to run separate journal and ebook reports to capture all Total Item Request data and Unique Title Requests by platform. We exported these reports to Excel and then did the rest of the work outside of Celus. Within Excel, we were able to annotate each publisher platform as being either IReL or UCD. For those platforms that had both IReL and UCD resources, we had to do a deeper dive on the COUNTER Reports to isolate usage for UCD's resources only.

The tool did most of the heavy lifting for us in terms of gathering and tallying the data required for the Return, and the manual work in Excel was not too onerous compared to what we had been doing in previous years.

The tool is now gathering our data monthly, and the dashboard alerts us to any data retrieval issues for specific publishers, allowing us to respond to and resolve these issues promptly.

Our next objective is to obtain a more complete picture of our ebook access denials/turnaways. We’ll also revisit the tagging feature as we’d like to obtain data on our individual journal subscriptions. The tool also has the ability to process a number of unmodified non-COUNTER reports from publishers, so we’ll be looking into that too.


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