Historic treasures monitored by unique technology
The Bodleian Library is one of the oldest libraries in the world, housing numerous treasures including four engrossments of Magna Carta. As part of the University of Oxford, it's an academic library supporting world-class learning, teaching and research. The newest Bodleian Libraries' building, the Weston Library, is not only a research library but includes a large public space with exhibition galleries, cafes and shop; over the opening weekend 12,000 visitors walked through its doors. The whole time a sophisticated people counting system was discreetly monitoring the building's main entrances and gallery spaces, giving valuable management information to help inform future decisions.
As part of the Weston project, management wanted to capture the impact of having the public visiting the building and its exhibitions. They wanted to use the data to assess current and future operational needs. In order to achieve this, they approached CountWise.
Before the opening, the Weston Library building underwent major renovations and a new cafÃš, expanded shop and exhibition galleries were added. This all had to be achieved within the existing Grade II listed building, keeping as many of the original features as possible.
The challenges have been many and varied, said John Duffy, Assistant Projects Officer at Bodleian Libraries. Probably the major one has been the time and scale of this project. Following the initial specification and tender process there wasn't a lot of time left to arrange the install and configuration of a system before the projected opening date and CountWise showed that they could meet the time frame, network and data specification requirements, he said.
Subsequently, CountWise's unique people counting solution was installed. The technology is based on advanced video imaging shape-recognition and motion detection. Today, a total of 9 cameras running the I-Count software monitor the various entrances of the Library building. The system gives the Library management an accurate account of the number of visitors entering and exiting at each entrance.
A Q-Count application is also in use, monitoring the visitors at the exhibition area. The Q-Count functionality is specifically developed to count and time stamp all arrivals within the area. It counts the number of people staying and viewing the displays during set time periods. This has given Library management a clear understanding of the impact of the exhibitions and trends in visiting.
Due to the building's architecture and listed status, there were some challenges when installing the cameras. One ceiling is made of fabric strips with narrow gaps in between. In order for the cameras to melt into the environment, CountWise had to engineer specific mounts and alter the cameras slightly to match the surroundings. It was all well worth the effort.
It's very reassuring to be able to quantify the measure of public interest in the library and its collections in this way. We are using the data provided to inform staff, readers and the University in general of the success of the project, John Duffy said. We now know how many people have visited our site, how many entered the shop, how many visited each of our exhibition galleries and the busiest and quietest periods of each day.
A successful outcome
I think it's fair to say that CountWise have been very helpful in progressing the installation of the system at the Weston, he said. It meant working within a very tight time frame, from system design through to installation and configuration. They have taken great care in ensuring that the counters are discreet and appropriate for their surroundings.
Bodleian Libraries is one example of many, where CountWise is used in public areas to monitor traffic in a consistent and accurate manner.
All photos are courtesy of Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, photographed by David Townshend and John Cairns.
CountWise at the Bodleian
The Bodleian Library is one of the oldest libraries in the world, housing numerous treasures including four engrossments of Magna Carta. As part of the University of Oxford, it's an academic library supporting world-class learning, teaching and research.
In this video you can see how CountWise were able to assist the Bodleian in giving them access to the data sets they needed to maintain the ongoing evolution of the Library and its services.