With some time off over the holidays, I took the opportunity to do a deep dive into Google Analytics. This was prompted by an article by Erin Crane which I found quite interesting. Erin shows how putting some time into your GA setup can provide interesting insights about how your library website is used. It’s an example of the kind of quantitative analysis that is highly valued by many campus administrators.

Is that a good reason to do this type of GA work? I’m not so sure. I think there are problems with “data-driven” campus assessment initiatives, like website analytics. Data gathered will in all likelihood be used to serve the agendas of interested stakeholders. Is it even possible to listen to what the “data says”, or is it inevitably a tool to advance someone’s preferred outcomes? I think our data is very, very rhetorical.

There are a lot of other issues with Google Analytics (privacy, surveillance) but I’m going to leave it here for now. In our enthusiasm for assessment, it’s worth remembering that the data itself is not neutral.

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