How libraries can use patron counters to justify their funding

There is a growing debate regarding the usefulness and need of society. Unfortunately, people who love libraries or consider them a valuable part of society are a negligible minority. After all, nearly every piece of information is available online. As everything is available online, it begs the question, is there still a need for a place where people can come to read books?

Are Libraries Obsolete?

For us, libraries are vital as ever. First, they form the cornerstone of small communities, cities, and universities.  While many may consider them obsolete, that is not the case. In many cases, universities are the only places where people can come and connect with their community during testing events, especially disasters. In fact, during disasters, libraries are usually the only place with internet access.

Second, they hold valuable information which not everyone can afford to buy. Research shows that people who face financial issues are unable to purchase books or pay for the Internet. In that case, a library is a place where the underprivileged can continue with their education. In addition, many libraries offer training like resume writing or job interview preparation. Again, it helps the less advantaged people to get back on their feet.

Third, libraries are public gathering places. We regularly see libraries holding lectures or exhibitions. Other than this, they provide places for people to gather for activities like play reading, knitting, and much more. Overall, there is no doubt that libraries are vital to a community.

Library Funding Issue

Nearly every organization faces funding constraints, and libraries are no exception. Usually, the local government or patrons are the ones that are contributing the lion’s share of the funding. With this money, libraries continue operating and offer various programs that are beneficial to the community. But money is hard to come by these days. Local governments are already facing record budget deficits, while patrons are turning away from libraries. In such a situation, libraries need to justify that they deserve the funding.

After all, there is no point in investing money in an organization that cannot justify the funding. Consider it from a business perspective. Would you invest money that provides no financial or non-financial (e.g. goodwill) return? The chances of you investing are zero to none because it makes no sense. The same applies to libraries. If they cannot justify their existence, they do not deserve the funding.

How Can Libraries Justify the Funding?

There are numerous ways through which a library can justify its funding, including:

  • Highlighting its Services.
  • Its Contributions to the Society.
  • Patron Counter

We know what you are thinking right now.

What is a Patron Counter for Libraries?

It is simply a device that counts the number of people coming into the library, visiting different floors, or accessing various services. It allows the library to know the precise number of people that it caters to hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly. Based on this data, it can make changes to its services. For example, consider that 100 people use the library computers in one hour. Yet, the library only has 5 computers. Considering these numbers, the management knows that there is a high demand for computers. In simpler words, it can opt to buy more computers and add to the visitors’ convenience.

How Does a Patron Counter for Libraries Help them Justify their Funding?

It is quite simple. When requesting funds, the local government or patrons ask for data to support the request. For example, why does the library require more computers? Is there any data to support this request? Apart from the computers, the funders might even question the viability of the library itself? It is here where the patron counter plays a crucial role.

A library can use the data to support their request. For instance, it can say that the library caters to at least 500 people on any given day. It means that a considerable number of people are relying on it. Within the 500, 200 people use the computers to carry out research work for their school or college assignments. In addition, 100 people use the library’s other services, such as resume writing help or job interview preparation.

A patron counter for libraries offers other benefits too. It can help the management to ascertain staffing requirements. For example, consider that 10 people visit the science fiction section, and 200 people visit the computers daily. It shows that the management needs to allocate more people to the computer section while limiting the employees in the science fiction section to just one.

Other than this, the patron counter for libraries will help the management know which location is the best or least performing. With the help of this data, the management can undertake new strategies. Overall, patron counters play an instrumental role in library management and are helping them justify their funding. The funders are also able to justify their spending with the help of statistics.

Wrap Up

Irrespective of whether your library is facing funding problems or not, we highly recommend that you invest in a patron counter. It will help you optimize your services, optimize staffing, and a lot more. If you do not, we are sorry to say that you are responsible for the growing demand for shutting down libraries.