Librarians have, in general, very little systematic information about activities inside their libraries. Track The Traffic (TTT) is a cheap and simple method to gather such data. It gives a good numerical picture of how library users actually use the various parts of the library.
How do people spend their time? Are they sitting down or walking about? Do you mostly find them in groups or by themselves? Are they reading or using computers? If so, do they depend on library PCs or do they bring their own tablets and laptops?
Track The Traffic (TTT) is a cheap and simple method to gather such data. It is based on regular “tours of observation” through the public areas of the library, normally once an hour, during one or two weeks. Data gathering and analysis can be carried out by the library’s own staff.
TTT reveals both the quality - or the kinds of activity - and the quantity of use. Combined with data on the number of visitors it will also indicate the average length of stay.
TTT tells library managers how library users actually use the various parts of the library. It reveals the pattern of activities and how this pattern varies between zones and also through the day and the week.
TTT is based on regular “tours of observation” through the public areas of the library, normally once an hour, during one or two weekly cycles. Data gathering and analysis can be carried out by the library’s own staff rather than by hired observers and consultants.
To carry out a TTT, you need:
- A floor plan covering all the public areas of the library
- Divide the plan into functional zones: reception area, newspaper section, reading room, group rooms, children’s books, etc.
- Describe each zone: its purpose, the total area (sqm), the total no. of seats (all kinds), the total no. of stationary PCs
- A time plan, with dates and times for all observation rounds ("walkthroughs")
- A list of activities to be observed
- We strongly recommend that you use the standard TTT list of Activities
WHY OBSERVE USERS?
You can learn a lot about your users if you take a walk through your library. For instance:
- Which parts of the library are crowded?
- Which areas look empty?
- Do people work together in groups or by themselves?
- How many work with books or other printed materials?
- How many are using library PCs?
- How many are using their own computers?
Track The Traffic (TTT) is a practical method to collect such data. TTT is based on regular tours of observation, usually once an hour, during a typical week. It gives you quantitative information about the actual use of services inside the library. With TTT you are better equipped to document the present and to plan for the future.
Track The Traffic is a standardized instrument. It has been applied in more than a hundred libraries and can be used by library staff with a minimum of training. All the information you need is available on the TTT web site.
The TTT network
The TTT method has been applied in more than a hundred libraries worldwide. It has been tested in public, academic, school and special libraries. Most of these studies were carried out in Norway, by library students in training,. But it has also been used as a planning tool by library managers in Norway and other countries (Finland, Lithuania, Sweden, Uganda, United States).
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