Monday, July 19, 2010

PL 47/10: Children who “live” at the library

Filed under: statistics — plinius @ 6:56 pm

It is not enough to count visits.

We should also examine the time spent at the library. In Gjerdrum, a small municipality north of Oslo, the number of visitors was almost equally divided between children, on the one hand, and grown-ups, on the other. But the children stayed, on the average, four times as long …

Every spring, towards the end of the term, I supervise a group of second year library students who carry out traffic counts – using the CTT method – in about twenty Norwegian libraries.

Watch that door

The students observe user behavior by regular walks through the library.

This year we have also tried out a different approach.  It is only suitable for smaller libraries, but provides unique data on the dwell time (inside the library) of different groups of users.

In large libraries, we have to follow the user from room to room to record what individual users do. In small libraries with a single entrance we have, however, another possibility. We can set up an observation post that covers the entrance, and (most of) the public area. From such a place, we can register anyone who visits the library

  • When they come
  • When they go
  • Who they are with
  • And what they mainly do

It is possible to record the gender, age and – to some extent – ethnic background.

From time to time it may also be possible to take quick looks at areas that can not be observed directly from the fixed position.

Large differences

The public library in Gjerdrum is small and easy to survey.  The traffic count in May was conducted in this manner. The data indicate surprisingly large differences between children and adults:

  • During the counting week more than a hundred children visited the library. They stayed nearly fifty minutes on the average. The median was thirty-three minutes. This means that half of the children spent a good half hour or more
  • In the same period there were twenty visits from young people. Average duration was half an hour – and the median twenty-three minutes.
  • Sixty-three adults visited. Average time was only twelve minutes – with a median of seven minutes.
  • The forty-two seniors who visited the library, followed the same pattern: an average of eleven and a median of seven minutes

Four times as long

Children’s library visits lasted on the average four times as long as those of the adults and seniors.

The statistics also indicate that some children staying very long at the library. Seventeen of the 114 visits accounted for half of the total number of hours spent by children (92).

  • The longest visit lasted five and a half hours.
  • Ten visits were longer than two hours
  • Twenty-three visits lasted between one and two hours.
  • Twenty-six visits fell between one half and one full hour
  • Nineteen visits lasted from ten minutes to half an hour
  • Thirty-six visit were quite short – under ten minutes

If you want to test out this method, please see Observation data: getting started – from the GLOSSA blog.


  • No data identifying individuals were collected.
  • The statistics above do not include a school class – with two teachers and twenty-two children, who stayed for almost half an hour.
  • My thanks to library student Ole Johannes Wathle, who conducted the census.



1 Comment »

  1. […] 47/10: Children who “live” at the library [web link]Plinius (19/Jul/2010)“…is sk 20 10 barn som bor på […]

    Pingback by HotStuff 2.0 » Blog Archive » Word of the Day: “barn” — Tuesday, July 20, 2010 @ 4:05 am

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