Saturday, March 20, 2010

PL 9/10: Dwell time

Filed under: statistics — plinius @ 1:45 pm

The more librarians know about their libraries, the better.

But presentation matters a lot. Some facts are more intereresting than others.

For decades on end, librarians have talked about loans. I am not opposed to data on loans, but I find the reading, the writing and the learning that loans generate more exciting.

We come closer to the reality of reading if we study the kinds of books that people borrow: fact or fiction, cookbooks or comics, light or dark, crime or rhyme.

Counting visits is a good alternative to loans. Visitor data present the library as a place rather than as a book collection. Like loans, the number of visits is just the first step.  How long do people stay within the library? And what do they do with their time?

British archives

During the last few years I have tried to organize systematic data collection on activity patterns inside libraries. You may read more about this project – Count The traffic – at the CTT home page. But I was prompted to write this post by a small discovery: that the British archive community has studied how long people tend to stay in archives.

The call this dwell time – and provide the following data from 2006:

  • Up to 1 hr 9.0%
  • 1-2 hrs 16.5%
  • 2-3 hrs 21.4%
  • 3-5 hrs 30.2%
  • 5hrs + 23.0%

The corresponding 2004 data were

  • Up to 1 hr 7.8%
  • 1-2 hrs 14.0%
  • 2-3 hrs 18.0%
  • 3-5 hrs 27.7%
  • 5hrs + 32.5%

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