WiFi Analytics Gave Brenda Tools To Help Patrons

Brenda Miller is the director of New Madison Public Library. The pandemic changed the way her library’s patrons interacted with the library and used its resources. Before COVID-19 caused the library to close its doors, patrons would come into the library building to sit and use the free WiFi, browse books, enjoy children’s programming or just have a safe place to hang out. 

So when the library doors closed because of the pandemic, Brenda noticed different patron behavior, like outdoor and after hours WiFi use. Brenda kept her library’s WiFi on so patrons could still use it while outside. And they did. People would sit outside of the library with their laptops to use the WiFi, or sit in their cars in the parking lot. 

Brenda used the WhoFi WiFi analytics system that her state purchased for libraries to identify usage trends and determine when patrons were using the library WiFi, how often and for how long. Another new trend she discovered from the WiFi analytics data was that people were using the library WiFi after hours. So even though library doors were closed, patrons still needed the library’s resources and help, and Brenda was determined to make sure that need was met. 

WiFi Data Backs Up Local Experiences 

Brenda used the information provided with the WiFi analytics to provide concrete data to the library board to back up the decision to purchase stronger broadband and extend the WiFi signal. This allowed her library to strengthen the WiFi and extend the signal so more people could use it while sitting outside the library or in the parking lot. She knew the library needed to provide more robust WiFi, particularly during the height of the pandemic, and having numbers to prove that this was necessary reinforced the value of this library service. 

As librarians across the country had similar experiences with patron behavior, the WhoFi team noticed trends among all library partners as well. So we compiled all of the data and produced a quarterly report for all libraries throughout the pandemic. Brenda said these reports were particularly helpful since she could see large scale trends that reflected what she experienced locally. She shared the quarterly reports with the board so they, too, could feel comfortable knowing that their local library is making the best decisions for their particular community and their experience is shared among libraries across the country. 

Local Stories Make It All The Way To The Governor 

Over time, Brenda started to recognize people who would frequent the library parking lot to use the WiFi. One of the regulars was a local high school student who came to the library every day to use the WiFi from the parking lot to participate in remote classes and do homework. There’s plenty of stories like this across communities. This is a real life example that highlights the need for adequate funding for stronger library WiFi. 

Brenda shared this story, and other patrons using library WiFi from the parking lot, with her state directors and the story made it all the way to the governor. Many people in the community can’t get WiFi at home sufficient for remote learning and coursework, and they rely on the library to provide this essential service. Sharing stories and experiences matters as the news travels to decision makers, but having data to back it up makes it even more compelling. 

Making Data-influenced Decisions To Help Patrons

Brenda adapted her library’s service offerings to the new normal, which was providing services from a distance, rather than in-person. She found ways to offer services, like free WiFi, and maintain the community connections while following COVID safety protocols. The WhoFi WiFi analytics program gave her the insight and confidence to make decisions that would help patrons during a crisis, and everyday thereafter. 

About WhoFi

WhoFi provides libraries with wireless session counts, for advocacy, operational improvements related to the patron experience, and for the annual PLS and state surveys. To learn more about how libraries can use WiFi insights to improve patron services, schedule a demo to see how it all works.