THE COLLEGE OF WILLIAM & MARY – SWEM LIBRARY PROJECT STUDY
The College of William & Mary is a public research university and, being founded in 1693, is the second oldest institution of higher education in the United States. The university was royally founded by King William III and Queen Mary II, where its name originated.
The college has over 8,000 students and is home to the eighth best library system in the United States, the Swem Library. The Swem Library consists of the main building plus four branch campus libraries in addition to the Learning Resource Center. It also shares the library catalog with five other libraries that are not organizationally part of Swem Library.
SenSource partnered with the Swem Library to obtain an accurate count of patron traffic.
The goal of the library was to know its occupancy level at any given time. As libraries offer new services and technologies the circulation of books and material decreases. Libraries have become a place to go, a place to be, it’s the central point of campus.
According to David Morales of the Swem Library, they were seeing a decline in circulation but there appeared to be an increase in traffic. The Swem Library previously had a simple break beam sensor installed at the main library only. They noticed that groups of people would arrive at the library at a single time and were concerned the simple patron counting system was not gathering an accurate count of traffic.
This became very apparent when the library was faced with a tornado drill and had to evacuate the entire library to the basement level. The library’s existing break beam sensor did not accurately count the number of patrons in the library at any given time and did not have a system for the staff to quickly and easily view the current data. The library staff was taken aback when over 400 people packed into the basement for the tornado drill. Suddenly, the concern for patron safety was apparent and the realization that they were ill prepared for a real disaster was clear.
By installing a new SenSource Thermal Imaging People Counter with Vea analytics software, the library can accurately count individuals of a group entering the library simultaneously. The thermal imaging people counter is accurate in high traffic situations and when paired with the Vea analytics software they can easily view, at a glance, how many people are in the library at a given time. The staff is confident in the sensor’s reading capability to rely on it for safety and operational purposes.
The SenSource patron counting system was able to provide the Swem Library more information and value than they ever had before:
- They are able to see how many people are actually entering and exiting the library.
- They can now staff the library properly by viewing an hour by hour dashboard and understanding when peak and slow hours are.
- They can now properly prepare for emergencies, such as a tornado, by understanding how many people are actually in the library and having the ability to plan ahead on where to place this many people.
One of the biggest benefits of having the SenSource thermal counting system is for the state funding. The Swem Library can officially and proudly state that they had over one million visitors to the library last year.
According to Morales, the output of information, ease of use and good price point of the SenSource patron counting system prompted them to purchase five more sensors for their other library branches that have never collected such data before.