Library counting visitors

Why do libraries need a people counting system? We share the reasons

More and more libraries are reaping rewards from visitor counters. They are using them to save money, improve services and, increasingly, to justify their existence. With a visitor counting system they can

  • Record visitor numbers per month, week, day, hour or even every five minutes
  • See which areas and floors of the library are most popular
  • Monitor and reduce queues
  • Find which days and times are the busiest
  • Know the current occupancy of the library
  • Track the paths people take through the library

The main reason libraries install people counters in the first place is to prove to funding agencies with user statistics. However, a video counting system soon proves itself cost-effective in many other ways.

Libraries use the data to improve the visitor experience by increasing staff at busy times and reorganising displays that aren’t working. They can also save money by reducing staff during quiet periods. The number of people visiting the library at different times and days is remarkably constant; recording people counts let libraries plan ahead and optimise staff levels and opening times.

Understanding usage patterns of the library, for example, let the Thomas Cooper Library of the University of South Carolina extend opening hours on its busiest days – Sunday to Thursday – but not on the quieter Friday and Saturday.

Library management: count people, reduce queues, allocate staff, track area popularity

The video visitor counters provide quantitative data showing how much and how often people use the library’s physical resources. This evidence provides support for the resources that are being used and enables the reduction of under-used features: saving money whilst giving people more of what they want.

Administrators and librarians use the statistics provided by the library counters to evaluate the ways in which the library supports their community.

Determining how much a libary’s facilities are being used by its patrons is an effort that every library should attempt.

Daniel S Dotson and Joshua B Garris writing in Library Philosophy and Practice

Video people counters use pictures from CCTV to identify and count visitors. Counts can be stored and displayed both locally and remotely, with data being sent over the internet to administration centres. Systems are over 98% accurate.

Further Reading:
Counting More than the Gate: Developing Building Use Statistics to Create Better Facilities for Today’s Academic Library Users,
Daniel S. Dotson, Joshua B. Garris. Library Philosophy and Practice

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