Frequency distributions of recorded use for students using academic
libraries were analysed using statistical models not previously employed
for the purpose. The suitability of the data for such analysis is
discussed. Evidence suggested that frequency distributions of recorded
library use reflected real differences in amounts of library use by users.
A computer simulation of library use by students was used to investigate
the effects of competition among users upon distributions of use.
Negative binomial probability distributions were found to reproduce
some of the observed patterns of user activity, but were rejected on
grounds of fit and applicability. Other two and three-parameter
probability distributions were considered. A novel modification of the
negative binomial distribution (being a Neyman Type A-gamma distribution
instead of a Poisson-gamma distribution) gave good fit to frequency
distributions of recorded use from various libraries. The fitted
parameters appeared to be related to statistics of use for the observed
populations, but the diversity observed in reality among users was
clearly simplified in a stochastic model with only three parameters. In the second part of the study, methods of using the model were
explored. Given stability in two of the three parameters, the model could
be scaled with time to predict future frequency distributions. The
extrapolation of numbers of non-users from one set of data is described.
The effect upon the uptake of titles from a library collection of
distributions of activity among students was also considered. By
simplifying the model, relationships between the mean use by a group of
users and maximum amounts of use by individuals, and between numbers of
uses and numbers of titles used are suggested. A key factor in relating
user activity to uptake is the extent to which users diversify in their
use of titles.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.