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LET'S TALK LIBRARIES

A blog from the Southern Ontario Library Service

Untypical Typical Week

On September 18th, the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries released the form for “One Week Survey of Public Library Use”; a survey better known as the “Typical Week Survey”.  This information is collected during a week without a statutory holiday in October, November or the first part of December.  The information collected during this one-week period is then used early in 2021 when you complete Section G of the Annual Survey of Public Libraries covering the 2020 year.

As an overview, this survey is conducted at each service point within a library system.  A service point must offer library service directly to the public; be open at regularly scheduled times; have a permanent collection and be staffed by library personnel.  For those libraries with more than one service point, the information from each service point is collated into one report.

As the Typical Week survey information ends up as a collation of information for your entire library system, there are some questions within the survey which may not have to be collected at the individual service points.  For example:

  • Circulation figures for print and DVD materials covering the one-week period can be obtained from your ILS system.
  • Circulation figures for e-books and e-audiobooks covering the one-week period can be obtained from your service provider such as OverDrive (via Marketplace) or CloudLibrary.
  • Figures for the number of times that electronic databases are accessed by library users from across the library system during the one-week period can be obtained from each of your vendors such as EBSCO, Gale, Mango, ProQuest, Rosen.
  • Website analytics can provide a report on the number of visits (user sessions) made to the library website for the one-week period.

While some of the data might be collected at each individual service point, some information is best collected electronically, such as:

  • Depending on your router configurations, you may be able to also get a service report on the number of people using public library wireless connections during that one-week period.

This leaves you to count the following seven (7) items at the service point itself (and collate it later):

  • Number of people using library workstations
  • Number of people using Maker Spaces, Digital Media Labs, Self-Publishing Centres
  • Number of reference transactions (counting in person or phone as well as e-mail or chat)
  • Number of Readers’ Advisory transactions
  • Number of Information Communications Technology, software, and social media support requests (and the average amount of time spent per request)
  • Number of times accessible materials, equipment or devices are requested
  • Number of visits made to the library in person

Now that you have a good idea of the amount of work require for this one-week survey, and have some ideas on ways to gather this information, we also wanted to address “the elephant in the room”.  This may be the Typical Week Survey, but we know that there is nothing typical about this year. We do not expect that your numbers in any category, except perhaps circulation of e-books, will be as high as in the past.  Having lower numbers will not affect your provincial grant. We recognize the value of collecting year over year data, especially as we look for trends and comparisons in usage.  We hope that you will realize that this is just an untypical typical week and carry on.

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