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Background: The Primary Care Electronic Library (PCEL) is a collection of indexed and abstracted internet resources. PCEL contains a directory of quality-assured internet material with associated search facilities. PCEL has been indexed, using metadata and established taxonomies. Site development requires an understanding of usage; this paper reports the use of open source tools to evaluate usage. This evaluation was conducted during a six-month period of development of PCEL. Objective: To use open source to evaluate changes in usage of an electronic library. Method: We defined data we needed for analysis; thi s included: page requests, visits, unique visitors, page requests per visit, geographical location of users, NHS users, chronological information about users and resources used. Results: During the evaluation period, page requests in creased from 3500 to 10 000; visits from 1250 to 2300; and unique visitors from 750 to 1500. Up to 83% of users come from the UK, 15% were NHS users. The page requests of NHS users are slowly increasing but not as fast as requests by other users in the UK. PCEL is primarily used Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday is the busiest day with use lessening through the week. NHS users had a different list of top ten resources accessed than non-NHS users, with only four resources appearing in both. Conclusions: Open source tools provide useful data which can be used to evaluate online resources. Improving the functionality of PCEL has been associated with increased use. © 2005 PHCSG, British Computer Society.

Original publication




Journal article


Informatics in Primary Care

Publication Date





271 - 280