This image (thank you Rochelle Logan!) details my attempt to describe to my public library board of trustees, and the public generally, just what we do. Not what we say we do, or think we do. What we can actually measure.
Note: you may have to click on the image to make it large enough to see clearly.
I began by sorting (by descending volume) of all the statistics my library (the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado) gathered in the year 2010 (January-December).
There are seven broad categories of use that far overshadow everything else. AFTER these stats, it's a drop of an order of magnitude (a factor of ten). This is what my library DOES.
I've carried this around for awhile, and think the only big things missing are these:
* wireless use. This is growing very rapidly. it might be as big as PC use. (It turns out we have captured this. It's about 4,000 to 6,000 a month, so 48,000 to 72,000 a year. Right now, that puts it midway between the 7 things and everything else.)
* in-library use. There are a lot of people -- reflected in the door count -- who come to the library who might not do anything captured anywhere else. If they come in and hang out, chat with friends, talk to staff, maybe even use a study room, read a few magazines, and leave, we don't really capture it.
I have several questions. The main one is this: is the experience of Douglas County Libraries similar to that of other libraries? If so, these ratios of use may help us in our planning efforts. I've asked my colleague Nicolle Steffens of the Library Research Service to look at that in her spare time (of which there may be zero!).
I'd be interested to hear from other libraries -- and library users -- about this picture of library use. Does it match your experience? Is there anything that surprises you? Anything that YOU think is missing?
Anyhow, here's the picture: one big thing, two roughly equal things (library as physical and virtual hub), and four other key services, also roughly equal to each other.
Going clockwise from the right side:
* Circ is circulation. It's the total number of items checked out in a year. (I'm working on another slice here. Circulation about splits evenly between adult print, children's materials, and adult movies and music.)
* V-visits is the number of virtual visits (people actually viewing a page). The two big activities, incidentally, are either going to the catalog to look for something and place a hold (which winds up in Circ), or looking for storytime hours (which winds up in "Prog(ram) attendance
* P-visits is the number of physical visits (doorcount divided by two).
* Ref is the number of reference questions staff responds to in a year.
* Database use is the number of unique searches in one of our subscription databases. Most of these come from the public, not from the staff.
* Prog attend is program attendance - the number of bodies who show up for our library-sponsored programs. It does not include meeting room attendance.
* PC is the number of unique logins for use of our public PCs.
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