Reed City Area District Library

People Counting Made Easy!

Chance En"counters:" What's in a Number?

Tom Burosky

by Tom Burnosky, Director, Reed City Area District Library

As a new director, I never felt confident when presenting our traffic and visits. I could explain how we estimated our numbers based on lending and other data points, but not everyone who enters our doors borrows a book or attends a program. I knew we had to be more precise.

It turns out that there are a lot of people-counting devices out there. All of them have various levels of accuracy with their bars and beams. I deferred my search, knowing that ALA Annual was approaching and Chicago was an easy drive. As a veteran attendee, map in hand, I embarked to the massive vendor floor. As the hours passed, my stamina waning, the people counter remained elusive. I decided to take one last lap.

Tucked down a long row, in the way back area of McCormick Place, was a booth with a banner that read, “3 Reasons Why People Counting is Essential for Libraries.” Bingo!

The device, no bigger than a standard smoke detector, mounted right above our entrance door. It is barely detectable. The power over ethernet (POE) capability makes installation easy. One simple bracket with an ethernet cable connection to the router.

The technology that drives the counter is highly advanced. An embedded thermal sensor detects the heat from your head, accurately scoring a visit every time. Counting is undetectable and inescapable.

Since we installed the counter, our statistics are eye opening. We saw enough trends in traffic to confidently modify our service hours for the benefit of our patrons. The decision support from the counter is immeasurable when we consider programs. Staff does not miss counting attendance. The software allows you to label program times where numbers can be highlighted, then easily referenced during any day, month or year. The security benefit was unexpected, only Spiderman could evade detection.

When I cite our visits, the WOW factor is a frequent reaction. We are changing perceptions about our library with numbers that rival many of the busiest destinations in our community. Our new focus on visits for an expense on par with a mid-level laptop computer has been tremendous. The future is bright at Reed City Area District Library.

For more information about people counting check out.