Patron Usage Data

As school was beginning I posted about my new-to-me library card system.

I still love it. It’s working wonderfully! So much better than using the photography company cards. We haven’t had many lost cards, it’s easy to make the new students feel welcome by creating them a matching card, and I don’t have to switch between modes in the circulation system.

One of the best reasons though is data.

About six weeks ago I decided that we needed to start keeping track of the number of patrons using our library. Each week I print a simple chart that stays out on our circulation desk. I left this one as a Word Document in case you’d like to use it, but want to edit.

Download as Word Doc

A few times a day we take library cards out of the little buckets where students put them after they check out books and count them before re-filing them into their pockets. We jot the number down into the first box on the chart. We don’t bother adding during the day which makes it super easy.

In the second box, we write down the name of the teacher or tutor meeting with small groups in the library and put tally marks next to the name if they meet with more than one group.

The third and fourth boxes are for tallies of individual students using the library other than for checkout. The first is for students doing academic work such as taking a test, working on a project, using the space to study. The second box is for students who are in the library to use the computer because they can’t go outside for recess, participate in PE, or using a computer because of overflow from the computer lab.

The last box is where I write down the names of the classes I teach or whole classes that use the library. Sometimes it is a teacher doing checkout with her whole class or a teacher who needs the extra space for one of his lesson. It’s also all of my library classes.

Today I put the data into Google Spreadsheet for the first time. I’ve been wondering how it will all come together. I kept it simple and just listed the dates down each row and the five categories as column headers. Putting it into a chart so I can present the data was simpler than I anticipated. A graph with one column running near a 100 average in one column and an average of 5 in another is not easy to read. I decided to try and figure out a total number of patrons for each day. I made a column that added all five categories together and also multiplied 4 times for each small group (I thought that was a reasonable average for the groups I usually see in the library including my reading groups), and multiplied each whole class by 25.

So easy! Now I have numbers that show the library being use on average by 183 patrons. There is one day that is skewing the data. I may take it out. I can’t figure out why only 13 patrons checked out books that day. I have a feeling we didn’t write down the number of library cards when we counted a big stack.

I suppose there is one additional problem I should consider. When I check out books to whole classes of students, the students who checkout books are leaving their library card in our circulating patrons total. Is it right to count these students twice? As circulators and as participants in a lesson? I’m not sure. For now I think consistency will be key. The numbers don’t matter as much as the patterns.

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