Sunday, December 16, 2007

Keeping Hash Marks

Still keeping your statistics as hash marks on a sheet of paper? Have you considered upgrading to a database? Not only can you generate a variety of detailed reports quickly, you and your staff can search your knowledge base of sorts to examine frequently asked questions and other patterns.

We started using Library Stats at the Hub on July 1. Library Stats was created at Wisconsin and is freely available through the developer's project site. Library Stats is a database which allows service desk personnel to record questions for statistical purposes and create a simple, searchable knowledge base. Library Stats includes canned reports as well as the ability to download all data which can be manipulated using pivot tables in Excel. Check out their demo database to give it a test drive.

We've been so pleased with the results of using Library Stats in the Hub that all our subject libraries on campus will start using it in January. I just finished setting up a database for each location. It was a simple procedure, and I found things easy to customize as needed.

At this point, you must be thinking--what's the downside? The most obvious one is that it does take longer to record your statistics. I have encouraged Hub staff in a rush to only fill out the minimum amount of information required for our statistical reporting (or in a pinch--use paper and enter the stats later). I've found that they still tend to enter the details anyway, so I can only assume that the extra time it takes to use the database is not too burdensome.

Some tips:
  • Make launching the database and logging in part of your opening desk procedure. Make sure any written instructions and the username/password are easily accessible by anyone working your desk.
  • Create a desktop shortcut and clearly marked bookmark to your database's URL on all desk computers. Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of the day, the database window can inadvertently get closed.
  • Keep paper statistics forms handy for those unexpected network or power outages. So far, we've not needed them.
Once you've collected some data for awhile, the fun begins--creating your reports! More on that in a future post.

1 comment:

Nicole said...


I have been trying to get us to use this tool since last April! I am so jealous y'all adopted it first.

Looks like we're close, though......