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Objectives: To use hourly building occupancy data over the period of 2012-2014 to determine the effect of changes to library hours of operation on building occupancy near and in the hours leading up to closing time.
Methods: Data were collected using an automated gate count system at the primary entrance to the library. The system tracked the occupancy of the building by comparing the number of entrances and exits hourly each day. Incremental changes to the library’s hours of operation occurred in the same time period for the years 2012-2014. This time period will be compared year-to-year. We will test whether changes in closing time have a significant effect on mean occupancy rates during each of the three hours leading up to closing. Based on a previous study which examined a smaller, six-week period between 2012-2014, we expect to find that as closing time is extended, building occupancy in the hours preceding closing time increases despite a decrease in occupancy at closing.
Results: Mean occupancy during the hour before closing time did not change when closing time was extended from 9 PM to 10PM. When closing time was extended to 12 AM, mean occupancy during the hour before closing decreased. Mean occupancy during the hour ending at 9 PM increased when closing time was extended from 9 PM to 10 PM. Mean occupancy during the hour ending at 10 PM increased when closing time was extended from 10 PM to 12 AM. We plan to also include data from the ongoing Spring semester in the final results.
Conclusions: Occupancy near closing decreased as closing time became later. While occupancy near closing decreased somewhat, occupancy earlier in the evening increased as library hours were extended. The benefits of increased library occupancy appear to justify sustaining extended operating hours.
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