The Data Dude – Virtual Visits (Revised)

visitsShaka. Last week, I blogged about a new element on the public library survey asking you to report virtual library visits, and the definition I posted has been revised (and hopefully will provide some clarity). I’ve worked it over, and the revised language is below. For those of you that provided feedback, thank you! I hope to clear up the confusion in this post today, and will revise the earlier post to reflect the change in the question definition. I apologize for the confusion. Keep in mind that this is not a federally required question. If it is difficult or impossible for you to collect this data, you are free to enter a 0. However, my earlier blog post provided the background on why state data coordinators (SDC’s) believe collecting this data is important. What we are trying to do is to capture the number of unique visitors to your website for a sample time period (each day), and then obtain an annual figure based on that sample. Now, what is a unique visitor? In short, if you have one person (as determined by their IP address) who accesses your website numerous times in one day, say 10 times, you count them once (even though they had 10 “user sessions”). If they come back tomorrow and do the same thing, count them again for that day. So every day, you start over with a new count of unique visitors to your site during the sample time period. You collect the number of unique visitors for a time period, for example, a month or “typical week”. If you’ve collected the data for a week, multiply by 52 for an annual figure, or if you’ve collected it for a month, multiply by 12. The goal here is to provide a decent balance and provide counts that are comparable to how you capture physical visits (or gate counts). Here is the revised definition: 6.18. Total Annual Number of Virtual Library Visits to Library Website: Unique visitors is the number of inferred individual people as determined by IP address (filtered for spiders and robots), within a designated reporting timeframe (each day), with activity consisting of one or more visits to a site. Each individual is counted only once in the unique visitor measure for the reporting period, in this case, each day. The number of annual virtual visits can be calculated by summing the number of unique visitors each day for a one month time period. You may also report an annual figure based on a “typical week” (see definition below). Multiply by 52 weeks for an estimated annual total. A “typical week” is a week that is neither unusually busy nor unusually slow. Avoid holiday times, vacation periods for key staff, or days when unusual events are taking place in the community or the library. Choose a week in which the library is open its regular hours. Include seven consecutive calendar days, from Sunday through Saturday (or whenever the library is usually open).  
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