There are several questions in the Library Services section of the public library annual report that require the public library to either tally counts throughout the year, or, if that is not feasible, to collect data for a “typical week.” If your library does not routinely count each patron coming into the library (visits), each reference question, or each Internet computer use, then the library must conduct a tally during a typical week in October each year.
The questions on the annual report that might be answered with data collected during “typical week” counts are:
- Reference Transactions,
- Library Visits (patron count), and
- Number of Uses of Public Internet Computers
- Wireless Internet Uses (optional for 2013)
According to the definition used for national library statistics, a reference transaction is an information contact which involves the knowledge, use, recommendation, interpretation, or instruction in the use of one or more information sources by a member of the library staff. The term includes information and referral service. Information sources include printed and non-print materials, machine-readable databases, catalogs and other holdings records, and, through communication or referral, other libraries and institutions and persons both inside and outside the library. The request may come in person, by phone, by fax, by mail, or by e-mail or networked electronic reference service from an adult, a young adult, or a child. Note: Do not count directional transactions or questions of library rules or policies in the report of reference transactions. Examples of directional are “Where are the children’s books?” and “I’m looking for a book with the call number 811.2G.” An example of a question of rules or policies is “Are you open until 9:00 tonight?”
Libraries may use electronic or mechanical means of collecting the data throughout the year, such as infrared door counters, or software to manage public access to Internet workstations. But if the library does not count use throughout the year, then the library should schedule at least one week in October to collect appropriate data (for comparative purposes, the national guidelines dictate that the one week survey should be done in October).
Under no circumstances may the library estimate the numbers to be reported, or report the number submitted in prior years. For instance, libraries should not adjust their previous year’s count for reference based on circulation changes, or as a ratio of their door count numbers, or other criteria. Please note the collection for Public Internet Computers was changed last year from users to uses.
Source : Channel Weekly, Vol. 15, NO. 39, August 22, 2013