Statistically Speaking

Numbers are so boring....

...but numbers are so powerful

Today we got our June circ stats which gave us a real "Wow!" moment. Our print youth circ leapt up 17% and total youth circ jumped 13% over last June.  That is significant. Our usual increases come in at 2-5% and those are hard fought battles to raise those percentage points with our users.

What made the difference this year?  I definitely think our newly revamped summer programs I blogged about in June jumpstarted our circ. The programs for elementary school kids and teens are designed to encourage frequent returns to the library and that has encouraged alot more check-out of materials. Between our circ numbers report and our SLP database that helps us track the kids reading and produces helpful data, we know we are right where we want to be.

Most interesting in this whole time period is that we actually decreased the number of events and storytimes we presented. Our staffers felt some trepidation about this decision. Would less people coming to fewer programs impact our circ and usage? We are pleasantly surprised to see that the strength and make-up of our SLP program is the driver behind the circ uptick.

I am a stats monster from way back when.  Tracking numbers and usage can produce amazing information. The trick is to actually use the numbers we gather and only gather the numbers we'll use!  It wastes time to track program attendance if we file it away and never compare the numbers to circulation patterns or other programs we did in previous years. It makes sense to keep an eye on stats for circ or programs if we institue major changes in program direction, new initiatives or added value services. And stats definitely help us say when to say when and end programs or services that no longer garner the support of our users.

Stats don't always go the way we want.  But the information they provide can be a powerful tool to help us make the changes we need to keep programs, collections and services fresh and responsive to our users.

Image: 'Happy Pi Day (to the 36th digit)!' http://www.flickr.com/photos/64419960@N00/2332789392

1 comment:

  1. Can you tell us more about your SLP database? I'm still really struggling with numbers - finding a good way to record them and also making it staff-friendly, b/c the online databases I've tried so far our desk staff won't use.

    Jennifer @ JeanLittleLibrary