- Building use is lowest on Saturdays and after 6pm M-F. More questions are asked on Saturdays than Sundays, but most of those are people checking out equipment or books.
- The proposed new hours align with when the most work on campus gets done.
- The EHSL used to be open until 7PM on Fridays and recently shifted to closing at 6PM. Did you notice? We also experimented with closing on Saturdays last summer. Did either matter to you? We heard no feedback. If you don’t tell us, we don’t know.
- Security after 6PM and on the weekends is sometimes an issue. Fewer people are around to witness an event, if something were to happen.
Thoughts? Concerns? Feedback?
Background and Data
People use the EHSL all the time – online! EHSL is open 24/7 at http://library.med.utah.edu, and gets hundreds of thousands of clicks every year. We want feedback about when the library building should be open. Every day, we count the number of patrons in the library – six times a day Monday-Thursday, five times on Friday, four times on Saturday and Sunday.
The graphs below show the three-year* average number of patrons studying or using the computers, from 8AM to 9PM for a year.
*Data from 2014, 2015 and almost all of 2016.
Averages are lowest in the summer, and highest in February, April and September. On average, there were 18 people in the library on any given Friday at 8AM in February, and an average of 7 people on Fridays at 8AM in July.
Around 2pm, the library is packed with group meetings, studiers and sleepers, and computer usage.
Patrons decline after 6pm. 7PM looks a lot like 8AM. By 9pm, it’s pretty quiet. The highest patron counts at 9PM are in February and December, with 5 or less people in the building when we close.
Saturdays are also pretty quiet around the library. 1PM and 3PM are the busiest with a maximum of ~15 people here and a low of less than 5 people here.
Sundays are slightly busier than Saturdays. The highest averages of people in the building are in December at 4pm with 25 people in the EHSL building. Noon in January has the fewest people in the building with 3.5 people.
A note about patron counts: Each person counted may or may not be a unique instance of a single person in the EHSL. We suspect some people are counted several times during the day. Perhaps someone came in on a Saturday at 10:45AM, stayed for a few hours and then left around 3:15PM. They would be counted at 11AM, 1PM and 3PM. This could especially happen around finals or board exam times. That’s one reason these are multi-year averages.
We also track how many questions people ask and when they ask them! For the purposes of this post, we are only concerned with questions via phone, IM chat, or people walking up to the desk (we answer several thousand email questions in a typical year. Those are not reflected here).
These graphs show the total questions for every day of the week, by hour for Jan-Oct 2016. Not averages, totals.
There were 44 Saturdays and Sundays in January–October 2016, and we received a total of 157 questions on all Saturdays and 42 questions on all Sundays. This is an average of 3.5 questions each Saturday and <1 question each Sunday. Alternatively, on Fridays we received an average of 25 questions a day. The number of total questions drops quickly after 6PM.
The largest category of questions in both graphs by far is “Services”. Services captures all the questions not in the other categories. In our case, most of our services are checking out books and technology (http://campusguides.lib.utah.edu/technology )
Directional are: “Where’s the book club meeting today?” “Where is the bathroom?”
Technology are: “Can you help me set up wifi on my iPad?” or “How do I use the printer?”
Reference are: “I can’t find the full text of this citation. Can you help?” “What do you have about Parkinson’s disease?”
So, here are some questions we’re thinking about at the EHSL:
- What positives might come from changing the building hours?
- How would aligning library hours with regular business hours affect those who physically visit after hours?
- Is there a minimum threshold of how many people need to be physically in the library to justify opening the building?
- Does reducing library building hours convey an impression that the library is not being used?
- Students have 24/7 access to HSEB. What about faculty or community patrons who want a quiet place to read after hours?
- What is the purpose of the library’s building? Should we be open for study hall?
What do you think?