Feasibility of measuring the in-library material use and its applicability to public library management

Masaru Itoga, Yuko Emoto, Hana Kwak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This research aimed to verify the feasibility and usefulness of measuring the amount of in-library use, in the context of two main ways of using public libraries: staying a long time to study and learn, or stopping by just to borrow or return books. The study also aimed to determine the significance of measuring the amount of in-library use for library management. Methods: Two types of survey were carried out unobtrusive observation by staff tours of four public libraries, or questionnaires handed out to the users of those libraries on the same day as the observation. The purpose of both surveys was to estimate the whole time of in-library material use. The subjects were two prefectural and two municipal libraries in Japan which had different management and service policies. The analysis compared these two methods and examined the results in detail in terms of reliability and consistency, to validate such differences among public libraries. Results: Quantitative measurement of in-library material use is applicable to various management and research situations as follows: 1) The whole in-library materials use time varies greatly, and the time per visitor varies according to the libraries' management and service policies. Therefore, these measures are able to reflect the quantity of materials used by library users visiting for self-study and/or self-learning. 2) These measures are a useful set of management tools because they reveal actual use by all library visitors. 3) Simulated observation by various time intervals shows that observation every hour is sufficient to estimate the whole in-library use time. This finding implies the feasibility and availability of using these measures. 4) These measures can be used to identify various aspects of public library use by utilizing other measures, particularly in-library stay time and the number of library visitors. 5) The feasibility and applicability of these measurements suggest that the whole use time of library material should be captured in terms of in-library use, out of library use via lending service, and remote library use via telecommunication networks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalLibrary and Information Science
Issue number69
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Nov 25

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences


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