Over the course of time, industry trends tend to shift, and libraries are no different. In order to attract users, public libraries have found themselves evolving into digital and social hubs. These spaces give people access to a number of opportunities that they may otherwise not have access to.
In order for libraries to offer these different opportunities and programs to patrons, they must first understand their library and the community members who utilize it. A great way to uncover utilization data is through a library people counter system. These systems provide raw data on foot traffic trends and patterns. This data can then be analyzed and formed into actionable growth plans aimed at attracting more users to your library.
1. Fill in data gaps
With a state of the art people counting system, stakeholders will be able to see where patrons go the most within their library. You’ll be able to view traffic levels during specific days and times to monitor program participation, or even different areas in the library. For instance, traffic flow may be congested in certain areas, deterring some people from visiting. But if you adjust the floorplan of the library to create a better flow in these congested areas, people will be able to peruse shelves or use different technology offerings more comfortably.
2. Optimize programs & campaigns
Successful libraries create a strong sense of community through various programs and campaigns. The continuous analysis of these programs is important to the success of any strategy. This allows management to understand what is working and what is not. As Gene Homicki, co-founder and CEO of myTurn stated, “many community-based Library of Things locations lend over 1,000 items per week, offer classes, and have workshops or makerspaces.” That’s a lot of data to be gathered and analyzed over time to understand the full picture. Having a system in place to assist is a huge time saver.
3. Plan timely & relevant offerings
By better understanding user patterns, you’ll be armed to create programs that draw more patrons to your library. Understanding the most visited parts of your library and busiest days or times can help you decide the topic of your next program,the best time to hold events etc. Certain topics might also be more popular during certain times of year as well, depending on holidays or seasons, which can be uncovered after using and collecting foot traffic data for multiple years.
4. Staff properly
Stakeholders operate efficient libraries by determining which hours of the day are busiest and which areas are seeing the most usage. Staffing for specific programs can be even tricker. If you have a people counting system in place, you will need to look at past program traffic to see how many extra staff members will be required to hold the event. If you over-staff, then you risk losing out on funding dollars that are already tight. But if you under-staff, the event patrons may leave displeased with the lack of service and may not return for future events. These types of forecasting traffic trends can easily be discovered and shared with other staff members within a single library or even a large library system.
5. Secure more funding
Libraries with a SenSource platform installed have the capability of viewing year-over-year data to know if patrons are being receptive to the changes libraries are making. Although libraries are keeping up with the changing trends with patrons, they are also under great pressure to justify and preserve the funding necessary for key programs and events. Providing reliable, statistical information on the usage of the facility is pertinent to accomplishing this.