Affordable Care Act Strains Already-Struggling Library Budgets

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Affordable Care Act

According to the American Library Association, there are more than 120,000 libraries in the United States. Libraries date back to 2600 BC, when resources were clay tablets written in cuneiform, one of the earliest known forms of writing – we’ve certainly come a long way since then. Today, libraries serve nearly 1.6 billion visits and lend books approximately 2.4 billion times.

A community resource

Public libraries serve as community centers for classes, book groups and students looking for a place to do research and study. They also fill a critical need in many of the communities they serve. People living at or below poverty level—mainly young adults or senior citizens—go to the library to use the Internet to search for a job, read the news, apply for government benefits or research medical care.

In fact, 62 percent of libraries cited in a recent survey say they are the only source of free Internet in town, drawing a crowd and straining the efficiency of the library’s network.

Doing more with less

The cost of running our library system, according to Forbes Magazine, is less than $50 per person each year. If the cost seems low, that’s because it is. So low, in fact, that there may not be enough money to go around very soon.

A recent column written by Carolyn Anthony, president of the Public Library Association and director of the Skokie Public Library in Illinois, helps to spotlight the financial concerns facing public libraries.

Anthony noted that people depend on their library not only for books and other written or audio/visual materials, but also as a source for information, a place to go for computer classes and get help filing government forms or pay taxes.

Despite the increased role libraries have taken on, they’re being forced to do more with less. Anthony points out that more than 40 percent of states have received less public financial support for their libraries, funding that has slipped by nearly $40 million since 2010.

Effects of the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the nation’s health reform law enacted in March 2010 by the Obama administration. It aims to expand health coverage to 25 million Americans, increase benefits and lower costs for consumers, provide funding for public health and prevention, and support health care and public health workforce and infrastructure.

Since the creation of the ACA, libraries are seeing their resources being stretched once again. The website went live in October, so people have been heading to their local libraries in droves to use the computers to learn more about the law and apply for coverage.  Libraries have had to draw from their savings to cover the additional resources needed to meet the new demand.

The problem

In order to keep their doors open in the communities they serve, libraries need to raise additional capital in their budgets and fight the cuts that are being made on the state and federal levels.  This means additional taxes for the local towns that have to vote for the library budget, and no one is in the mood to pay more taxes right now. This is especially true of people who either don’t use the library or have only been there a handful of times.

This is a tough task—so it helps to have some hard evidence to show why you need additional funds.  Using a people counting system, and compiling accurate traffic counts of how many people are coming into the library to research the Affordable Care Act and other important information, can help justify requests for additional resources to serve these patrons.

Fighting back

This empirical evidence will show how many people the library serves and how this number has risen over the few months or years.  Once a library has an idea of how many people it has served over it a set period of time, the facility can take the data and create projections for the future, which will help bolster a case for an increase in local funding to raise additional money for the library. It will also strengthen the request on a state or federal level for additional aid, or at least fight against proposed cuts.

How to Use People Counting Technology to Improve Facility Management

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Ecology concept with electric plug

You don’t need to be a hardcore environmentalist to know that cutting your energy costs is good and reducing your carbon footprint is even better. Don’t get us wrong, we love the Earth, but investing large amounts of money in fancy eco-friendly technology and sustainable practices is counterproductive if these measures are not implemented for maximum positive impact.

Why go greener?

Commercial property owners and facility managers looking to make green changes to their buildings should be commended. Why?

1. Keep costs low

Many budget-conscious businesses increasingly want to monitor their energy consumption so they can better control both usage and cost. Monitoring energy intake is good for everyone—it helps keep costs down and reduces the strain on aging power grids, which are consistently overtaxed in the summer to the point of brownouts—or worse—total outages.

2. Attract likeminded consumers

Green businesses appeal to people who care about the environment and want to promote a healthy lifestyle, so they tend to attract patrons looking for all of the amenities of a standard business, plus additional options that focus on enhancing comfort and energy savings in an environmentally conscious setting.

3. Stand for something

Today’s consumers – especially the younger crowd – are becoming more and more concerned with environmental causes and they want their favorite brands to share their values. Your green efforts could be the reason they choose to support your business over your competitor’s.

Can your building do all of that? If the answer is yes, you’re in good shape, but don’t get your hopes up. Without the proper technology to tell you how many people are coming and going and what times the building is at maximum capacity, you probably won’t see the promised savings.

How to optimize your facility

Thermal people counting sensors provide accurate readings of the number of people who enter different areas of the building every day. These sensors are more accurate then motion detectors and they don’t make distracting sounds as people pass by.

1. Energy

Knowing how many people come in each area of your building will help you determine which sustainable practices you want to continue and pinpoint where you are wasting money. Overhead sensors such as video imaging people counters or thermal people counting systems will tally how many people occupy the spaces in your property and at what times—which is especially useful when creating estimates for energy consumption and related expenses.

2. Heating and cooling

One of the larger expenditures a property owner has is heating and cooling. Maintaining a base building temperature so the pipes don’t freeze in the winter is smart, but blasting heat at all hours of the day is a poor decision. In addition to providing tenants with optimum temperatures, a central management system can be set according to your sensor data, which helps save energy by avoiding the over-heating or over-cooli

3. General usage

This data can also be used to create a detailed history of each area of the building and track how usage has risen or fallen over time. This will allow you to see the performance of your sustainable technologies and ensure that you are making smart investments.

For example, if your tracking system shows that less employees are coming to work on Fridays in the summer but you see that your energy usage has remained the same or gone up, you may want to take a closer look at those spaces and see if the technology—LED light bulbs, low-flow toilets or less air conditioning usage—are really paying off.

If you determine that those improvements aren’t performing as they are supposed to, then it’s time to reallocate those resources and make eco-friendly choices that will have a more tangible effect.

University budgets tight, tuition high in 2014

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bigstock-Students-Hiding-There-Face-Wit-43858558State governors are beginning to unveil their budget plans for 2014. Although things are looking up from last year for higher education budgets, universities are still expressing concern about their ability to provide for their students.

California

Earlier this month, California Governor Jerry Brown announced that his budget plan would include a $142 million increase to the University of California as well as state Universities. But he has a few conditions: that universities show measurable evidence of improved student success and promise not to raise student fees.

While Brown’s budget plan is a step in the right direction, a few problems remain. For students, tuition is still high. For universities, there is increased pressure to improve campus resources and undo the damage caused by the last few rounds of budget cuts.

Tuition has risen at universities across the country since the recession hit in 2007, so students and their families fear they will continue to struggle with the same financial issues in 2014 that they have been plagued with for the past five years. They have been financially burdened by both high tuitions and several years of schooling.

Brown said state schools aren’t graduating their students quickly enough; some students need several years to complete their degree. This growing trend is due to students not having enough money to pay full-time tuition, having to work part-time, certain classes not being offered every, and/or programs being cut. To speed up the graduation process, Brown suggested that schools be more flexible, offering online courses and other options.

His statements could be disconcerting for some universities – especially those that were already been struggled to provide for their students without the added pressure to speed up the graduation process.

Arizona

Similar issues are arising in Arizona. Lawmakers increased the state’s higher education budget by $28.2 million, but tuitions remain high. At the state capitol, House Minority Leader Chad Campbell said the state universities’ request for an additional $100 million was “very prudent.”

He pointed out that, aside from California, tuition in Arizona has gone up more over the last five years than any other public university system in the U.S. He also stressed the importance of educating students so that when they enter the workforce, they are able to complete “high tech, high-paying sustainable jobs.”

Campbell believes universities are not to blame. “They have done what they needed to do because I don’t think we’ve done our job,” he said.

The problem

Long story short: it isn’t time to celebrate just yet. On one hand, high tuition puts pressure on universities to make sure students are getting their money’s worth – to provide more resources, classes and services. On the other hand, even if universities are able to improve student success, students and their families will still struggle to pay tuition.

Not to mention, in general, university enrollment continues to increase. Many universities in the U.S. need the extra money to accommodate their influx of new students each year, in addition to maintaining or improving their educational offerings.

A solution

People counting systems allow universities to keep a close eye on their tight budgets while still providing exceptional service to their students. They also allow schools to saving money on labor and supplies and increase profits by determining the most profitable areas on campus.

Universities can install people counting sensors above doors, hallways and seating areas in campus buildings to track the amount of people who enter and exit each day. These numbers are sent to a central system, where the information is consolidated into a meaningful report showing how many people visited the building in a given period of time. These numbers can then be used to determine an appropriate number of staff members, building hours, supplies and resources to ensure that universities are only spending as much as they need to.

In 2014, every little bit will help for universities.

How to Use a People Counting System to Justify Your Requests

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Justify requestsPeople counting technology is crucial for justifying requests because it answers questions that a POS system cannot. This is especially true in the case of nonprofit organizations and learning facilities like public libraries, museums and university centers. People counting data provides insight into the amount of people being serviced by these facilities and the amount of people using their resources.

Additional technology requests
Requests for additional technology resources like computer labs, iPads® or printers are often hard to swing due to their expensive nature. Buildings like libraries, museums and student unions need several of each unit to serve waves of visitors and students. They often need to replenish their existing resources or request additional resources as their technology is used by thousands of people and used thousands of times. Also, as technology continues to advance and educational resources become increasingly digitized, it is in the best interest of these learning environments to keep their equipment up-to-date to better serve their communities.

Librarians, museum curators and university boards can install people counters near each exit, area or floor of their buildings to gain information about their heavy and light traffic areas. By comparing the traffic numbers of different areas, they can understand the best and most easily accessed areas to place computer labs, printing stations, interactive exhibits that utilize iPads® or tablets or any other type of technology that would benefit the facility and its users. They can also compare areas that house existing technology to determine which resources visitors use most often or find most useful.

And with their people counting data, these facilities can make cases to their administration for these resources. By proving that you are a valuable resource for a large amount people in your school or community, you can justify requests for an increased budget with hard numbers and metrics that prove the necessity for new technology.

To upgrade current technology, the process is the same. By knowing the amount of people that use your technology on a daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly basis, you can prove the legitimacy of their wear and tear or prove the necessity of upgrades and replacements.

Staffing requests
In today’s economy, budgets for nonprofits, libraries and universities have tightened. Historically, they have been forced to make reductions to their staff and hours of operation. However, as funds decrease, the amount of people who visit these facilities stays the same. Communities and campuses still have the same amount of people to service, and therefore need the same amount of staff members and operating hours.

With people counting data, these facilities can prove the necessity of their existing staff or the need for additional staff members. A people counting system can provide information about a facility that cannot be gained from a POS system – the amount of students or community members who enter the building without making a transaction. People who do not make purchases still need access to service and resources, and oftentimes they cannot gain that access without an employee. Providing traffic numbers can prove to administration or school boards that usage of the facility has increased, even if circulation or sales transactions are down.

Fight budget cuts and closings
Libraries, student unions and museums – in light of the digital takeover of media, education budget cuts and the rough state of the economy, respectively – might have to fight to stay open or keep their resources. However, a decrease in resources or funds does not necessarily mean a decrease in visitors. While these facilities typically don’t generate much (if any) revenue, people counting systems can produce reports that prove that these facilities are used and valued by a large number of people and staying open would be in the best interest of the students or the community. It can help facilities to ensure they don’t get the axe when budget cuts are made.

You know that your facility, services and resources are useful to the community, but people counting systems allow you to make sure that others know, too. Leveraging people counting data to justify requests can prove to be a much more powerful method than petitioning or providing sales history

How to Justify Requests for a Mobile POS System

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A simple people counting system can save you money by optimizing each area of your store – so think about what the combination of that and a mobile POS system could do. Mobile POS is the hottest trend in the retail industry right now, and for good reason. It streamlines your store operations and increases your service and sales.

Fortunately for stores with people counting systems, they can justify financial requests to upgrade to a mobile system. Data and reports from your people counting software allow you to view your customers and sales by day, week, month, period or year, as well as your conversion rates. You can compare and contrast your sales with previous years or other stores in your chain.

With this insight into your store, you can show an increase or decrease in customers. With that, you can prove that implementing iPad kiosks or some other mobile POS element may better service your growing number of customers – or that implementing something new and fresh may attract the new customers you have needed.

Here’s how a mobile POS system can boost your bottom line:

Costs – For starters, a mobile POS system is often less expensive than a traditional PC-based system. You can simply download software any iPads or tablets, which can cost as little as $200 each. A traditional system comes with its own hardware and software, with the whole package costing upwards of $20,000. And a people counting system can give you the same sales insights as POS reporting functions.

Line-busting – Your customers can say goodbye to long wait times and unnecessarily long shopping trips. Staff members can speed up service time – and inevitably make more sales – by cashing out customers on the spot. Having to wait in a long line could make customers abandon their purchase if they are in a hurry. They can come in, find they want, purchase it and be on their way in a matter of minutes. Speedier service will ensure their shopping experience is a quick and easy one. By analyzing traffic patterns generated from your people counting software, you can determine where employees with mobile devices or check-out kiosks should be placed.

Sales – As mentioned, mobile POS allows your staff to make sales on the actual sales floor instead of limiting them to the cash register. They can spend more time with customers, making sales and providing service. This leaves more room for cross-selling, upselling, giving recommendations, answering questions, comparing prices, etc. If you answer all of these questions for them, it will discourage them from finding their answers on the internet via showrooming. You can also grant customers access to items that are online-only or out of stock, allowing the staff to make more sales and allowing the customer to have a more pleasant shopping experience.

Advertising – You can increase and improve your in-store advertising efforts by mounting tablet technology on counters, walls and kiosks. Customers can view video advertisements while they shop, possibly even inspiring them to make an additional purchase. You can also launch in-store social marketing and promotional campaigns and test their effectiveness with your people counting system by analyzing traffic patterns in each area of your store. Your traffic reports will give you insight to which efforts were beneficial and which were not.

Labor – By allowing customers to help themselves with mobile POS, you can lower your labor percentages and reduce the need for high shopper-to-associate ratios. You will no longer need someone constantly behind the counter. You can also save money on training new employees, as most people are already familiar with smartphones and tablets. Based on traffic patterns, you can determine the best places to position the salespeople with mobile POS devices.

Customer service – People coming in and out of your store will get more customer service than ever before. They can access digital brochures, job applications and product catalogues while they shop. They can also cash themselves out or sign up to receive coupons via text message or email. You can also get feedback and provide services in an easier fashion. They can complete surveys, sign up for your customer loyalty program or check the balance of their gift cards.

Customers can gain a better understanding of your store inventory by viewing different models, colors, sizes, etc. Mobile interfaces allow fitting room attendants, floor salespeople and cashiers to provide more information about your products without making the customer wait as they travel to the POS system and back. They can simply pull up the information on a tablet or iPad. If you’re curious as to the effect increased customer service has had on your sales, you can use your people counting system to observe the change in your store’s conversion rate (footfall divided by sales transactions) over time.

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How to Leverage Social Media in Your Retail Store

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social mediaSocial media can allow retailers to showcase their brand, vision, mission and personality – and above all, reach a wider audience. Through these sites, stores can learn more about their customers wants, needs and challenges and get ideas about how they can accommodate. Eventually, well-managed social media accounts and marketing efforts will pay off. Your customers will be more involved and engaged in your brand, and your store will drive its bottom line.

Retailers across the country are using social media as tools to boost their in-store sales, and it’s working. You can find out how your online efforts are benefiting your brick-and-mortar store by keeping track of your foot traffic, sales transactions and conversion rates over time using a people counting system.

Here are ways to leverage five of the most popular social media:

Facebook

To make it easy for retailers, Facebook offers a business page template and Facebook Insights, an analytics platform. Combined with your in-store people counting system, you can compare and contrast your social media traffic to your brick-and-mortar foot traffic.

Like content marketers do with blogs, you can share local or brand-related information that you think will be useful to your friends, followers and customers so that they view you as a valuable resource. Post questions in your status asking your customers what they want to see in your store, which products they’re loving, which ones they’re hating – it’s like crowd sourcing or conducting a focus group. The good thing is, most users aren’t afraid to be brutally honest when they are able to hide behind their screen.

You can also provide your customers with an incentive to shop for your products by offering discounts to those who like your page or check-in.

Twitter

Conducting a tweet chat shows that a retailer is interested in what its shoppers have to say. They also allow you to identify influencers and engage with them. A representative leading the chat is entrusted to relay the information while also identifying worthy consumer insights for the retailer. Participant feedback can potentially supply research. By listening to consumer concerns during tweet chats, retailers could get ahead of developing trends and possibly start looking at products.

You can also use Twitter like Old Spice, Taco Bell and Charmin do – they often joke with their followers. Old Spice and Taco Bell even poked fun at each other via tweets. People browse twitter for funny or interesting one-liners, not annoying sales pitches. Think of a funny or interesting way to talk about your store and products, enticing people to come in and take a look.

Tumblr

Tumblr blogs are a great resource for retailers because they serve many of the same functions as Facebook and Twitter, but allow them to customize their own pages to coincide with their vision or brand – without limitations on character count and restrictions on design. The site also allows users to share their posts on other social media.

Retailers like Ann Taylor, J. Crew, Kate Spade and Oscar de la Renta all have beautifully-branded Tumblr blogs.

Tumblr is ideal for retailers with a target audience who is young and hip. While the blogging platform has users of all ages, the majority of its user base is in their teens or early-to-mid 20s. These young bloggers often post pictures of clothing and products they want to buy, as well as review clothing and products they have already bought – making it a perfect platform for retailers.

Instagram and Pinterest

These social media tools are perfect for retailers because they have become popular for their use of visually stimulating and aesthetically appealing images. Also, their users tend to spend a considerable amount of time scrolling through posts, browsing images of clothing and products they want to buy. Both can be accessed via the web and smartphones, making your brand extremely accessible.

Martha Stewart, Bergdorf Goodman and Anthropologie are among the many retailers who use Pinterest.

Here are a few ways to use them:

  • Sneak peeks of new merchandise
  • Behind the scenes photos and videos
  • Store-related hash tags and pinboards
  • Customer photos and reviews
  • Contests
  • Photo flashbacks

Ways To Incorporate Social Media Marketing Inside & Outside the Store

From outside in:

  1. People often watch television while also being on their smartphone or laptop. Businesses can incorporate social marketing and branding into their traditional ads to encourage customers to interact with them. It could be as simple as singing up for text alerts of store sales. A TV commercial could encourage them to text a certain number for free updates, and they can do it right then and there on their smartphone – which is undoubtedly right next to them on the couch, if not in their hands. Using a people counter, retailers can then determine whether or not those efforts helped them to spread the word and increase their in-store traffic during sales.
  2. With social marketing and branding, retailers could also promote brick-and-mortar exclusives on a banner ad on their web store or a social media post. By using a people counter to determine the in-store traffic gained from the sale or promotion, store owners and managers could compare that number to their web traffic. This would provide them with insight into the success of their brick-and-mortar store vs. their online presence.

From inside out:

  1. Another easy way is to place marketing materials on check-out counters or near displays to encourage social media interaction with customers. The possibilities are endless. It could be as simple as signs that say “like us on Facebook” or “follow us on Pinterest” – or as high-tech as a tablet kiosk that allows shoppers to create a product wish list or take photobooth pictures and upload them to the store’s Instagram… whatever will make them want to mention your brand.
  2. Retailers could place QR codes on shelf tags, providing customers with a quick and easy way to find these products online, read reviews, view and order additional colors or sizes or access coupons. They could also place QR codes in email promotions so that recipients can open the message on their smartphone and scan the code to receive discounts in store. QR codes are not only a quick and easy way for customers to gain access to additional resources, they are also a relatively new technology that will be exciting for them to use. The use of new technology, in general, puts your brand a cut above the rest.
  3. By offering discounts to people who check-in to the store using location-based apps like FourSquare, retailers can encourage first-time customers to not only visit their store but also immediately make a satisfying purchase. They may have already heard about your brand on social media, but first-time check-in discounts are an incentive for them to take the next step in the buying process and make the trip to your brick-and-mortar store. By advertising these promotions online or in the store’s window display, visitors will know upon entering that they have an exciting opportunity waiting for them inside.

After taking these steps, you can measure how they have contributed to in-store success with your people counting system. Is your foot traffic increasing as your web traffic does? Are people finding out about your brick-and-mortar store through hash tags?

Monitoring your foot traffic will allow you to know if your social media marketing efforts have been effective. Stagnant results could mean that something is wrong – posting too much, not posting enough or not speaking to the right audience.

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How People Counting Can Help Mobile Phone Stores

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Today, the mobile phone business is booming. People are relying exclusively on cell phones, eliminating land lines all together. More and more users are upgrading to smartphones, or upgrading their current smartphone to the newest model, and shopping for the plans that best fit their ever-growing data usage needs. As people use their phones for more and more daily activities, like social networking, music and entertainment, photography and thousands of application-specific programs, the mobile sector of retail continues to grow.

On the user side: Users are very attached to their smartphones. It’s the way they communicate with immediate friends and family; stay in touch with acquaintances; read the news; set their alarms each night before bed; plan their days, weeks and months; keep track of their bank accounts; look up maps and directions – and so on. In a smartphone user’s life, their device can play a role as big as their car or computer. Without it, they would be lost. That’s why it is important to them that they receive the best service possible when looking to repair or upgrade.

On the store side: Competition is fierce in the mobile retail sector. Each cell phone carrier strives to give their customers better service and support than the next, because one bad experience could be the reason that a user makes the switch to another carrier. Because of this competitiveness, mobile phone stores should strive to ensure that they can provide each customer who comes into the store with quick and helpful service.

Here’s how people counting can help mobile phone stores ensure the best service possible:

1. Assessing promotions
As new mobile phone models are released almost monthly, new promotions are constantly being created. How do you know which ones were worth your investment? A people counting system will allow you to assess the amount of traffic and sales obtained in the context of media money spent on the promotional campaign in question. With that information, you can determine if a promotion was a worthwhile business venture or not and whether or not to do it again. Using a people counting system to glean this information will keep you from making the same marketing mistakes more than once.

2. Optimizing staff scheduling
It’s happened to almost all of us – we’ve gone to a mobile phone store with a simple question or need, but walked in to find a crowded room and a half-hour wait time. For some users a broken phone is just as a bad as a broken bone, so speedy service can be as important as it is in the emergency room. An adequate shopper-to-associate ratio will keep lines moving and speed up service times. But how do you know how many associates are needed at a given time? Traffic history allows mobile phone store managers to forecast their busiest days and seasons – the difference in numbers between Christmas, Valentine’s Day and back-to-school – and keep an optimal shopper-to-associate ratio during peak periods. That way, employees can make sure they provide quick and helpful service and eliminate long wait times.

3. Tracking visitor-to-sales conversion over time
When the corporate office assesses your store’s performance, will it be known for its selling capabilities? When customers compare your store to your competitor’s, will they say your service is above par? Because of the competitiveness factor, mobile phone stores should account for each customer who comes into the store and, based on those numbers, improve their conversion rates – the amount of foot traffic divided by the amount of sales transactions. Working to raise your conversion rates through improved customer service and increased sales could make a difference in the way your store is perceived by both customers and corporate officials.
According to a 2013 study by Qualcomm, 34 percent of respondents said they could only go a few hours without their mobile phone. So when a customer enters your mobile phone store with a broken phone, they will most likely be very anxious to leave the store with a new or fixed device. People counting systems ensure that their experience is a quick and helpful one – and that they choose your store every time.

Traf-Sys has supplied people counting systems to well-known names in the mobile phone industry, such as Sprint, CellularOne, Viaero Wireless and Wireless Zone.

Why All Libraries Need People Counting Systems

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With the emergence of eBooks and eReaders, it’s important for libraries to ditch the Dark Ages and embrace the digital age. What started as just a building full of books is now a community resource center with computer labs. People counting systems have dual purpose in the digital takeover – they not only provide libraries with a technologically advanced way to keep records, but also provide them with hard facts to use in requests for additional technology.

According to a 2012 study by the American Library Association (ALA), Americans spend nearly three times as much on candy as they do on public libraries. They spend $35.81 a year for the public library—about the average cost of one hardcover book. And college libraries receive just less than three cents of every dollar spent on higher education, while school libraries spend an average of $12.06 per student on library media. In short, libraries don’t generate much revenue.

And although libraries typically have tight budgets, they must remain a reliable community resource. According to ALA , nearly 89 percent of public library outlets offer wireless Internet access. Also, research shows the highest achieving students attend schools with well-staffed and well-funded libraries. In a 2012 poll, 94 percent of respondents agreed that public libraries play an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed because they provide free access to materials and resources.

In this study and others, there are plenty of statistics about the number of books checked out and the amount spent, but there are hardly any about the amount of people who use these facilities. With limited funding and an unknown amount of patrons, library workers are bound to have a tough time allocating their time and money. It’s difficult to figure the amount of services needed if they don’t know how many people need them.

People counting systems allow libraries to combat increasing financial pressures by providing them with information that can act as a foundation for their labor, budget, and service requests. Door counters can produce data reports of the amount of patrons who enter the library on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis. With adequate staffing, funding and resource, a library can better support its community and bridge the digital divide.

In school and public libraries, a people counting system can streamline the following functions:

  1.  Keep in compliance – Library workers can report yearly statistics to the state as needed. They can stay within budget restrictions by maintaining labor percentages or limiting technology usage.
  2. Make cases to administration – With people counting data, libraries can share impressive numbers with elected officials or board members to prove their need for increased or decreased hours of operation and additional staffing, technology or services. They can prove that usage has increased, even if circulation is down. By installing a door counter above the computer lab, libraries can use traffic numbers to gauge their building’s technology usage. They can increase or decrease the amount of technology available based on accurate data.
  3. Make informed business decisions – Door counters allow libraries to learn which entrances are used most and which rooms and times are the busiest. With this knowledge, they can guide the placement and timing of cafes, refreshments, kiosks, exhibits, guest speakers, study groups, etc. Accurate people counts are also a way for libraries to increase their awareness of how many people are using services but not checking out material.

When libraries are able to justify requests for new or updated technology, they can prove the necessity of their facility to the community. They can show that they are still a valuable resource in an age where Kindles and tablets are common household objects. As libraries go digital, knowing the amount of people who enter and exit the building is becoming much more important than knowing the amount of books that are being checked out. People counting systems are able to provide more information, and in turn, more services.

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