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How to collect the number of users of public Internet computers

General Background Information


Procedure for workstations with "Library Online" tracking software

Procedure for workstations with "MyPC" tracking software

Procedure for workstations without "Library Online" or "MyPC" tracking software:

Is there any other reason to keep this statistic, other than the fact that the state requires it?


General Background Information

DPI's Public Library Annual Report requires Wisconsin libraries to report "Number of users of public Internet computers in the library."

According to the instructions for the report, libraries are to "report the number of individuals that have used Internet computers in the library during the last year.  If the computer is used for multiple purposes (Internet, word-processing, OPAC, etc.) and Internet users cannot be isolated, report all usage.  A survey tally of a typical week or longer periods, extrapolated to a full year, may be used to determine the annual number.  Sign-up forms or Web-log tracking software may also provide a reliable count of users." 

Essentially, you are being asked to count the number of patrons using your public Internet computers. Every time a patron uses a computer would count as one use, no matter how long they used the computer. For example, if you had a patron use a computer, then walk away for a couple of minutes, and then come back, that would count as two uses. A customer who uses the library's resources three times a week would count as three uses. Do not include staff use of these resources. 

The instructions also say that "if a computer is used for multiple purposes (Internet, word-processing, OPAC, etc.) and Internet users cannot be isolated, report all usage." 

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Procedure for workstations with Library Online:

You can get this number for your Library Online workstations with the "Equipment Utilization Summary" report.

  1. Go to http://libonline.scls.lib.wi.us/admin
  2. Log in with your library's name and password. 
  3. From the "Reports" menu, choose "Bookings," and then choose "Equipment Utilization Summary."
  4. Click "Show Report."
  5. The report will include a total number of uses for each workstation type, and a total for all workstation types.

Remember to use the observation method for any non-Library Online workstations with Internet access, if you have any.

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Procedure for workstations with MyPC:

You can get this number for your MyPC workstation with the "Booking Method Summary Report"

  1. Go to http://mypc.scls.info
  2. Log in with your library’s staff username and password
  3. Click on the Reports menu
  4. In the left pane, navigate to MyPC Reports > Booking Reports > Booking Method Summary Report
  5. In the right pane, click on the Booking Method Summary Report tile
  6. In the Booking Method Summary Report window, select the following:
  7. Click on the View Report button
  8. The report will include a total number of uses for each workstation type. It will also include the Total Bookings.  Use the “Total Bookings” number for your annual report.

mypc graphic 

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Procedure for workstations without Library Online or MyPC:

For workstations that do not have Library Online or MyPC, the easiest way to determine this number is to collect it for a typical week, and then "annualize" the number, by multiplying it by 52.   The following information is offered as guidance. Much of this information is from the book Statistics and Performance Measures for Public Library Networked Services by John Carlo Bertot, Charles R. McClure, and Joe Ryan (American Library Association, 2001).

    1. Select a staff member to coordinate the collection of the data. This staff member will:
    2. Select your one-week period. (See above for some suggestions on selecting the week.)
    3. Select a method or combination of methods for data collection. Some possible methods include:

There is no "best" way. There are issues with each of the methods:

  1. If you choose to use observation, the best practice would be to observe use of workstations constantly, which of course is virtually impossible and highly impractical.  It is recommended you observe at least every 1/2 hour, but this may not be possible either.
  2. Sign up sheets and patron assistance are only as reliable as your patrons are diligent in signing up or keeping track.

You will have to choose a method that is best for your library, your staff, and your community.

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Is there any other reason to keep this statistic, other than the fact that the state requires it?

This information may help you to:


For more information about Library Online or MyPC, contact the SCLS Help Desk.

For more information about the annual report, contact Mark Ibach.