10 Ideas for Bringing Museums into the 21st Century
10 Ideas for Bringing Museums into the 21st Century.
This actually came from Stephen’s Lighthouse, with this caption from him: “Sounds like the best library strategies too…” So, I bit…and what struck (of course) me the most was #8: Understand and analyze the numbers; make use of the data.
- What is your trade area?
- That’s pretty easy…our faculty, students & staff. But the “area” is quite widespread, what with our many distance and online programs.
- Do you capture zip codes of every visitor?
- I’d like to get that info – perhaps our office of research…
- Have you devoured this book?
- Walt’s Revolution!: By the Numbers by Harrison “Buzz” Price. He crunched numbers for Disneyland. Nope, haven’t heard of it…may be worth a look.
- How much is your earned income per visitor and per square foot?
- No, I’m not going to tally up the fines. We could count each use as some form of income, though. Place a dollar value on a visit (to use the computer, the study carrels, the electricity, the wireless, the reference works, the databases, the journals, and, yes, the books).
- How much is your capital investment per annual visitor?
- I like this thought – investment. We call it “appropriations”. The point is, how much is being put into the libraries? We are investing in our professional and even our student staff. We are investing in our resources; even our subscriptions. We are investing in our facilities. And we are investing in primary collections.
- But then, there’s the rub. Our investment per visitor is probably tanking by now (that would be an interesting topic for a later post): our investment is going down, while our visits are going up. Phrasing it as “investment per visitor” suggests that more is better, while phrasing it as “expenditures per visitor” or even “appropriations per visitor” suggests that lower is better – a bigger bang for the buck.
- How many visitors per square foot do you draw?
- Our business is booming since our student union has been closed for renovation. However, even before that, we were increasing our foot traffic.
- What is your average price per hour for your visitors?
- Our students pay $16.50 per credit hour taken per semester, capping at 15 hours for undergraduate and 9 hours for graduate. That means, a full-time UG student pays less than $250 a semester to use the buildings, the wireless, the services, the training, the books, the journals, the databases, the archives, the institutional repository, the digitized photos, etc. What is needed here to answer this question is the average number of hours a semester that a student uses library facilities and/or resources. Note: this should include time reading the books, scouring the archives, studying the articles, in addition to finding the information.
- Might it make more sense to lease rather than own your artifacts, exhibits, and buildings?
- This is, of course, one of the most heated discussions we in librarianship are having amongst ourselves. Rent or own? A hybrid collection is becoming more accepted, with books and journals that fill a more immediate need (basic information, rapidly changing fields, etc.) being leased and collections meant to serve a the research needs of the community being purchased and preserved.
- How good is your Executive Director’s dashboard or balanced scorecard?
- We are working towards such a feature, but it has been a struggle. My goal is first to build the infrastructure for gathering and storing in an accessible format the data about our collections and their use.
- How do you stack up in these regards with other museums and with amusement and entertainment competitors like movie theaters and Family Entertainment Centers (FECs)?
- Well, we do provide quality entertainment for our members. There are interesting lectures (I’d love to see more TEDTalk-like events, though), gaming events, movie & documentary screenings, human libraries, and more. It would be interesting to see how our events stack up against other entertainment provided on-campus. Planning events for our distance learners would be quite a challenge.