South Central logo

SCLS Home
Lib. Management
Annual Report Info.

Search
 



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 without "Library Online" 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." 

Back to top

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. Change the "Booking Start Date" and the "Booking End Date" to the appropriate dates. (For the annual report use January 1 for the start date and December 31 for the end date.)
  5. Click "Show Report."
  6. The report will include a total number of uses for each workstation type.  If you have more than one type, you will need to add the numbers together for your Annual Report. 

If your library has had Library Online for less than the full calendar year needed for the statistic for the annual report, you might want to get the number from Library Online for a typical week, and annualize it. 

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

Back to top.

Procedure for workstations without Library Online:

For workstations that do not have Library Online, 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).

Back to top.

    1. Select a staff member to coordinate the collection of the data. This staff member will:
      • distribute and collect the daily tally sheets,
      • add up each day's totals to come up with a weekly total,
      • deal with any questions or problems related to the data collection.

    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:
      • Staff observation of the workstations: Each time a computer is used by a patron, a mark is made on a tally sheet. Staff could observe the workstations continuously, or every X minutes. A sample Workstation Observation Log can be found at http://psw.scls.lib.wi.us/annual/worklog.pdf.
      • Registration sign-up sheets: If you have users sign up to use computers, you could tally up the number of users signed up for those workstations.
      • Patron self-tallying: You could put a sign and tally sheet at each workstation and ask patrons to make a check mark on the sheet each time they use the computer. A sample patron tally sheet can be found at http://psw.scls.lib.wi.us/annual/patrontally.pdf and a sample sign you may want to use if you choose this method can be found at http://psw.scls.lib.wi.us/annual/patronsign.pdf.

Back to top

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.

Back to top

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, contact Kerri Hilbelink.

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