Libraries are essential resources in many communities. They serve as gathering spaces, a place to take classes and learn new skills, and a refuge for students who need a quiet place to study and pursue school projects. Libraries often operate on tight budgets, however, and must find the most efficient ways to deliver the best service for patrons. That’s where technology comes in.
One tech asset that can make a significant impact is a library door counter.
A library door counter tallies each patron who comes through your library doors to help you understand traffic patterns, justify funding requests, and adjust staffing needs accordingly. These counters are designed in various ways, so take a good look at your library’s architecture to determine which door counter is right for you.
Horizontal vs. Overhead
The type of doorway will influence the kind of people counter that best fits your needs. For narrow entrances, a door-mounted horizontal door counter will suffice. The horizontal door counter is the simplest of all people-counting systems. It functions by tallying every person who interrupts the infrared sensor beam by walking through the doorway. Generally speaking, only one person at a time can enter through a narrow, standard-size doorway, making the horizontal library door counter a suitable choice.
For larger entrances where multiple people can come and go at once, however, a horizontal door counter would provide an inaccurate traffic count, as two people entering and interrupting the sensor beam simultaneously would likely only be counted as one. For these wider doorways, a library door counter that’s mounted overhead would be a better option.
Overhead library door counters can use either thermal sensors — to pick up each entrant’s body heat — or video recording to count people entering the library. When deciding between the two types of overhead counters, it’s important to remember that video recording carries with it some surveillance and privacy concerns, as some of your patrons may feel entitled to have their privacy preserved.
Where to Put Your People Counters
Depending on the size of your library, you may benefit from having people counters distributed throughout your facility. For example, you might want to install people counters in the children’s reading section, the audio book area, or other spaces that experience high traffic. This will help you to determine when the highest volume of patrons visit these areas and schedule your library staff as needed.
You’ll also need to decide which type of people counter is best suited for each individual area. While your main entrance may only need a horizontal door counter, you might find overhead thermal sensors give you the best results in the children area or computer lab.
By evaluating the data provided by your library door counters, you’ll be able to understand which areas of your library need more or fewer staff members to manage and monitor patrons as well as the best placement for promotional book displays and other important materials.
How Software Can Help
Your library door counter is only as useful as the software that compiles and makes sense of all the data it collects. This user-friendly software gives you access — virtually in real time — to your traffic data via any Internet-connected computer or mobile device. Use your software platform to generate reports that offer critical insights about your library traffic that can influence and inform your decision-making.
Door counters are becoming an important feature of the modern library facility. In choosing the library door counter that’s right for your institution, you’re poised to make objective data-driven decisions on how best to serve your patrons and create the space your community needs. Contact a Traf-Sys representative today to learn how you can add people counting capabilities to your library.