Why Libraries Need People Counters

We live in an age where the internet, now 30 years old (Happy 30th, internet! Welcome to the age where body aches pop up for no reason!), has become more pervasive than ever; Where tweets travel faster than earthquakes and more content is created and shared every minute (or even every second) than could be consumed in a lifetime; Where four million blog posts will be published in the next 24 hours (but you’re reading this one because none of the others have paid you any compliments… have we told you how nice your hair looks today?).

Now, having read the title of this post, you might be confused why we’re talking about the internet in a post about libraries. I get that, bear with me.

This article is about the free flow of information that takes place both between web servers and between library stacks. And as much as we love the internet, as we’ve said before, there are many ways in which the tactile, slow-but-purposeful approach that goes with a library search can never be replaced.

The modern library experience is about more than the stacks of books that line the walkways, or even just access to complimentary wi-fi. Just as the internet has expanded its reach and ubiquity over its lifetime, libraries have seen their role within their local community grow at a seemingly similar click. The modern library experience is so much more than checking out books: in most cases, various initiatives (and requirements) have driven libraries to include a multitude of free resources and programs. Consider these statistics from the American Library Association:

-84% of libraries offer technology training to patrons in computer software use
-76.8% of libraries provide online health resources and 60% offer programs to help Americans identify health insurance resources and get better informed on health topics
-73.1% of libraries provide programs that assist individuals to apply for jobs, create resumes, and prepare for interviews
-97% of libraries help people complete online government forms

With an increasingly diverse set of patrons utilizing an increasingly diverse set of services from their local libraries, it’s critically important to learn as much as possible about these patrons. Doing so allows libraries to serve their communities as effectively as possible.

In an era in which 5 billion Google searches are made each day, it would be foolish to assume anything about the interests and desires of almost any group, let alone library patrons. And one of the best ways to brush assumption aside and base decisions on verifiable data insights is traffic data through people counter technology. It’s time to incorporate people counting and traffic data into the modern library experience.

The basics of people counting

So what is people counter technology? In the interest of saving time (the detailed version can be found in this post), here are the CliffsNotes: a people counter system is an array of sensors placed in library doorways, as well as throughout the entire space, to track patrons as they enter and move around a facility.

This provides accurate, automated, verifiable daily visitor counts, but also provides insight into how patrons utilize the space. This can help to fine-tune operations and better serve your community.

Four ways people counting can improve your operation

  1. Use data to calibrate hours, staffing levels
    Traffic patterns gleaned from data collected over time can help make the case for adjusted hours of operation. Similarly, patterns could indicate that the length or staggering of on-duty shifts within a day should change. This helps to ensure that your doors are open at the proper times and keeping staff active and engaged throughout their shift
  2. Improve the patron experience
    As mentioned above, people counters aren’t just for tracking patrons as they enter and exit. Sensors placed throughout a library space help to track typical routes throughout a facility. This can help build a narrative for how patrons utilize different areas of a library. This big picture can help to optimize floor plans, displays, and such over time, based on how people actually use the space
  3. Use data to bolster funding requests
    When the time comes to submit requests for grants or annual budgets, people counter data provides exact, verifiable door counts to support your ask. This data also eliminates the need to count visitors using tick sheets, freeing employees up for other tasks
  4. Compare traffic data between locations
    It’s easy to share people counter data within different branches of a multi-location library system, or between peers in the industry. Flonomics users have access to a robust dashboard that compiles data over time and offers many ways to organize and present that data within a single team or across a larger group

Discrete sensors make sure your volumes get noticed, not your people counter tech.

Flonomics’ sensors are specifically designed to blend into their surroundings. Muted tones and slim profiles help to ensure that our sensors never distract from a positive library-going experience.

A modern solution

Much like library services have ballooned their community resources to assist with an ever-expanding set of needs, the list of external tools available to libraries have expanded to meet those needs. Having instant, verifiable footfall data has proved invaluable across many industries and certainly looks to be the future for modern libraries as well.

Are you interested in learning how people counter technology can improve your operations? Drop us a line!

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