Libraries Under Pressure: How Library Patron Counters Can Help

libraries under pressureThe Great Recession had a big impact on public libraries and the way that they function within a community. Libraries are under pressure to continue providing programs and resources for community members. While the unemployment rate has declined over the past few years there is a rising number of libraries that offer job and employment resources to help prevent the same thing from happening in the future.

Although libraries helped provide job and employment resources during the Great Recession and helped community members when they were in need the community perception is slowly decreasing. From Awareness to Funding, a report by the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), points out how libraries are perceived by community members. The report found that 35 percent of people acknowledge that their library offers programs for jobs and employment. 42 percent of people felt that the library “Helps provide people with skills for the workplace”. However, when questioned only 58 percent of voters would vote favorably for libraries, which is down from 73 percent in 2008. While people are aware of these programs and utilize them on a regular basis, they do not want to support them financially and libraries are under pressure to maintain their funding. As of 2015, 86% of library funding was derived from local government and that percentage is steadily increasing.

Painting the Full Picture of Library Usage with Patron Counters

As public libraries come under greater pressure to justify and preserve their funding, it’s ever more critical to provide reliable statistical information on usage of the facility. How does your library assemble usage statistics?

Counting the number of books and DVDs checked out by patrons provides a less and less complete picture of usage as more patrons turn to electronic resources. You may count the number of patrons who log on to a computer or use Wi-Fi services, but what about the job-seeker who comes to attend a technology class or simply scans the help wanted ads in the newspaper in the periodicals room? Library patron counters can play an important role in assembling accurate statistical information on library usage without draining staff resources.

Not only can a SenSource people counter provide data that can be used to make a more persuasive case for funding, but it can also help library administration make the most efficient use of staff resources by determining which hours of the day and which parts of the library are seeing the most usage, helping libraries maintain services despite funding pressures.

These are just some of the reasons why hundreds of libraries around the world are using SenSource people counters to keep track of the number of patrons visiting their facilities. See our people counter product list to see the options SenSource offers for your library or contact a member of the sales team for further information.

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