Determining Gate Count Reliability in a Library Setting
AbstractObjective – Patron counts are a common form of measurement for library assessment. To develop accurate library statistics, it is necessary to determine any differences between various counting devices. A yearlong comparison between card reader turnstiles and laser gate counters in a university library sought to offer a standard percentage of variance and provide suggestions to increase the precision of counts.
Methods – The collection of library exit counts identified the differences between turnstile and laser gate counter data. Statistical software helped to eliminate any inaccuracies in the collection of turnstile data, allowing this data set to be the base for comparison. Collection intervals were randomly determined and demonstrated periods of slow, average, and heavy traffic.
Results – After analyzing 1,039,766 patron visits throughout a year, the final totals only showed a difference of .43% (.0043) between the two devices. The majority of collection periods did not exceed a difference of 3% between the counting instruments.
Conclusion – Turnstiles card readers and laser gate counters provide similar levels of reliability when measuring patron activity. Each system has potential counting inaccuracies, but several methods exist to create more precise totals. Turnstile card readers are capable of offering greater detail involving patron identity, but their high cost makes them inaccessible for libraries with lower budgets. This makes laser gate counters an affordable alternative for reliable patron counting in an academic library.
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