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Hi everyone!  Happy December. But we are here to talk about October, so…Happy October in Retrospect.

As you may recall, back in October we walked around and asked you all what school you were with. Well, this is the result!

Vertical bar graph of how many people from each program were counted in the library

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We counted a lot of people! I for one am glad you all like us here. A few people have asked me if there were any surprises with this data, but honestly, not really. The Dental school coming in at 1274, Medical coming in at 1080, and Friedman coming in third with 231 is all the sort of thing I am used to seeing in these numbers. Which is not to say it’s bad! It’s actually quite nice to see how consistent we’ve been over the years, especially as we keep adding more and more seating (and subsequently see these numbers grow even larger from time to time).

Now for the unaware, we tend to time this survey so that we get a full week’s worth of data, even if they days themselves are spread out over the course of a month (randomized, with certain accounting for things like Indigenous Peoples’ Day). This is what that “week” ended up looking like this time:

Vertical bar graph of the number of people counted for each day of a calendar week

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I found this data to be the surprising data. Friday was our busiest day! We counted 674 people on the Friday we did this, and that is astonishing to me. Wednesday being 642 makes sense, and traditionally the busiest day of the week for us tends to alternate between Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and Saturday being the slowest at 281 sounds right to me. Heck, even Sunday only being 284 seems right. But Friday being the busiest day for counting? I am truly surprised by that.

Naturally, because I am me, I also broke this data up by time of the day and by floor, like so:

Vertical bar graph of the number of people counted for each time we walked around for the count

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Vertical bar graph of the number of people counted on each floor

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Remember earlier, when I was talking about the school/program breakdown being what I expected? Well, the times and floors are pretty typical of what I see month-to-month with our other data, but this is a great way to take a look at a day in the life of the library. We get crazy busy right around lunch, stay that way through the afternoon, there’s a slight tapering off around dinner, and then then the number of people in the library drops by the final count of the night (in this case, from 959 people at 6pm down to 328 at 3pm).

That graph of the floor count is frankly one of my favorite pieces of data in the library. We have been adding so many chairs and so much more furniture over the years the the amount of people on the 7th floor just keeps going up, and as of this past October we were counting over double the amount of people on that floor as any other! Just look at that: the 7th floor had 1605 people counted on it, and the 5th floor came in second at a distance (less than half!) 769 people. That’s nuts. I’m sure it doesn’t surprise anybody who’s been up there, of course, but it’s still nuts.


Vertical bar graph of circulation data from July-November

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Finally, to bring it all home and give you a spot of context, this graph is the Circulation data from July – November, which as of writing is the most recent data I have. To be clear, it is the number of checkouts per month, not the number of people who have checked things out (because if you check out a skull, a laptop, and a book, that could just be 1 person, but 3 checkouts. See how it works?). October is far and away the most checkouts, at 2616 – September is a relatively distant second at 1924. Given the change in some curricula on campus, I don’t know what to expect for the spring this year – generally, October and April are our busiest months, but time will tell! Hopefully I’ll have some interesting stories from the data come my next summer retrospective.

Well, thank you for reading! I hope this fall brought good things for you, and I hope the winter (and subsequent spring) bring even better! Have a great day everyone, and if you come by the desk on the 4th floor make sure to say hi! I’ll probably be there.


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Hello hello everyone. It’s about that time again: time for the Affiliation Survey!

Twice a year, the Hirsh Health Sciences Library runs the Affiliation Survey, where we walk around and ask every one of our lovely patrons which program they are with (Dental, Medical, Sackler, etc). This is all we ask. We will not ask for your name or even which year you’re in! The numbers we collect are used in aggregate so we can get a snapshot of what the library usage is like. The graph you see above is the result of last year’s two Affiliation months, for instance.

Here’s how it goes: there are 7 days spread out over the whole month, randomly chosen to try and maximize the usefulness of the numbers (in other words, we’re trying not to get skewed by specific exam blocks too much). On those days, HHSL staff (you’ll probably recognize us!) will walk around 4 times over the course of the day to gather the totals of how many people from each school are in the library. There will be signs and posters up this month, so you’re not caught unaware.

Keep your eyes out for them!

We won’t announce ahead of time which days we’re counting (see our need to randomize, above), so it’s safe to assume that it could just happen any day this month.

Don’t panic!

If you don’t want to be bothered (or to speak out loud), you are welcome to leave your ID next to you while you study. If that is still not good enough, you can write your program down on a piece of paper and leave that next to you. If you’re in a group room, feel free to stick a note to the outside of the door (on the wood – the windows must remain clear!) telling us how many people of what program(s) are in the room. Done and done. We will add that number to our count, and we will move on to the next person!

There are pencils, pens, markers, scrap paper, and tape down at the Service Desk on the 4th floor, so you can even make your sign bright and cheerful! If you have any questions or concerns, let us know either in person at the desk, or through Ask Us on our website. We’re here to help and make this quick and easy.

But otherwise, we look forward to seeing you all this month and finding out just what our beloved HHSL looks like this fine autumn.

Good luck on studying and I look forward to seeing you in the library!

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Hi everyone,

Time for another installment of my statistics posts! Since the big annual post last June, we’ve changed a little about what we collect, so sadly I don’t have handy available data for which one of our circulation days was the busiest this past year (although I will still be telling you the month). But I can tell you right off the bat that the day we counted the most people studying was November 28th, 2018, when we counted 911 people sitting in our library over the course of the day. 911! That is so many people! Part of it, of course, is all the new seating we keep getting, because we here at Hirsh Library care about where you’re going to sit for your (frankly incredibly long) study sessions. Part of it is probably that we’re just so darn nice.

Leo the Skeleton model smiling at the camera, wearing a light blue Tufts Alumni visor, with a button pinned to it of The Block

Leo the Skeleton, winner of my personal secret Nicest Colleague Award, six years running.


Anyway, you are here for some quick bar graphs and neat facts, and far be it from me to keep you from them! First off, here’s a bar graph of the last year’s worth of circulation stats (in blue) and head/seating counts (in red). These can be difficult to compare, since the numbers vary so far from one another (you may notice, for instance, that the circulation stats for a month never go above 3,000, but the seating counts never drop below that number). That is due simply to the digital nature of the schools here nowadays. Many of the students on this campus can stick with their computers, notes, and any textbooks they happen to own, and never really need to come to the desk. Which is a little too bad, given that we have so much stuff for  you, but that’s life. What matters here is that heavens to Betsy we had 3,023 checkouts in October! That averages 100 a day, but I can tell you from experience (and I have numbers in past years to back this up) that not all days are created equal. Weekends and holidays are slower, so to make up for those, we would have had single days getting up around the 200 checkout mark. My guess is a Tuesday or Wednesday right before a major anatomy exam.

A vertical bar graph, with circulation stats in blue and head counts in red.

Click to enlarge.

Now, just because nothing is fun if it lines up properly, October was the busiest month with checkouts (I won’t get into things like questions, consultations, or the sheer volume of EndNote assistance and troubleshooting I have personally offered), but November was actually the busiest month for students in seats, to the tune of 9,274 people counted. Egad! We only have four floors in this building, and the bulk of people (nearly half!) are on the 7th floor.

Incidentally, this seems like a good moment to mention we have foam ear plugs down at the Library Service Desk. They’re free, and you can keep them. We also have headphones you can check out, which cover your ear entirely. Great for blocking noise out!

These graphs always follow the same kinds of patterns, although I was honestly surprised that November took home the gold here. With the Thanksgiving break, it has never been out front like that. But from what I’ve been hearing on the grapevine (….hydrated humerus?), the schools have been shifting their academic schedules around, so I for one will be very interested to see how that effects our numbers.

Speaking of the floors: BAM! Have a chart about the floors. Remember I mentioned how busy the 7th floor is around here? Well I do not make those claims without the numbers to back me up, and hot dang the 7th floor got crazy busy. Particularly -interestingly enough – in January. Why was January the busiest month for the 7th floor? I can answer that the same way I can answer the question “Why do we pay more for the MBTA now but the service has somehow gotten worse?” And that answer is: I don’t know. Magic? Probably magic.

A bar graph of the head counts per floor over the year. Blue is 4th, red is 5th, green is 6th, purple is 7th.

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But I do find it cool (hah!) that it happened. I love little mysteries like the January 2019 one. 4,285 people counted on the 7th floor that month, the highest number of people counted on any floor in any month. And I wasn’t kidding about nearly half: that month, the 7th floor accounted for 49.8% of the 8,600 people counted in the library.

I joke around a lot on this blog, but in complete seriousness, I can speak for everyone here at Hirsh when I say: we’re glad you like it here so much, and are willing to spend so much time here. We try very hard to make sure you’re comfortable and have seating and food options for your long study sessions, so these kinds of numbers are good to see. It’s why I collect them in the first place.

Finally, did you know that back in April I wrote a post about the Affiliation Statistics we do here? If you want the full detail I recommend checking that post out, I just want to highlight the day-of-the-week breakdown I did from that post.

October and March headcounts by days of the week. October is in blue, March is in orange.

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You may notice that Monday is the busiest day of October, but Wednesday is the busiest day of March. That kind of thing happens a lot here, and things that seem to effect it are: weather patterns, exam schedules, food specials at the cafe, classes, and whether it’s a holiday week (Indigenous Peoples’ Day in October sometimes has a large effect, and sometimes not). I suspect that there’s also a bit of “I’ve been studying too much lately” and “Oh no Boards are upon me!” also happen, but while we collect all this data, we try very hard to not interrupt your studying.

So, where does this leave us? Well every year is a little different than years prior, and although this gives us a good blueprint for the upcoming year, the desk already feels significantly busier this week than it has in previous Orientation weeks, so there will be some improvisation as well. There always is. But if you’re like me, that’s exciting! Just means more of a challenge.

I hope you all have a great rest of your summers! Welcome back if you’re here, and if you’re not quite yet then make sure you get some beach trips in while you can. Class is around the corner.

And if you’re in the library, make sure to come say hi to me at the Library Service Desk on the 4th floor! I’m here all night.

Statistically yours,

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Hello all, this seems like a good time for a brief round-up of what we learned during the two Affiliation Statistics months this year. If you don’t remember (and how couldn’t you?), those were October and March, when we went around asking you all what programs you happened to be from. It’s always an interesting project when we do it, and I always enjoy showing you some of what we learned.

For instance,  the breakdown of days! The way we do the actual survey involves some randomization and scattering around the month, but we make sure to get each day of the week included. In the past, Wednesday has been the busiest day of the week at Hirsh, and that held out in the March count, but in October, Monday was the busiest! There are many different reasons this happens, including class schedules, exam schedules, and even weather patterns. It does help us understand our patron needs, though, which is one more way we can help you all out.

Now, obviously we didn’t go around and ask you about what school you were from just so we could show you this chart of what days of the week are more popular. No, what you may really want to see is the breakdown of which program had the most people here to count, and here you go! The answer…well, probably won’t surprise you, but it’s still fun to look at!

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Well would you look at that! Medical students and Dental students were the largest population in the library! Unlike past years, it appears there are more MD students studying in the Library, and I have a theory on that: seating. One thing I’ve noticed in the past from other statistics posts and round-ups, particularly when doing the end-of-year, is that our Medical students tend to prefer quiet space for studying. This past year, the Hirsh Library has exponentially increased the amount of available study space on the 7th floor – the quietest of the study floors – and then this happened. That March bar corresponds rather well with 2nd years preparing for their Step exams, too.

Is this a direct causation, or a happenstance correlation? As much as I’d like to say it’s causation, I’m cautious about claiming that. Then again, as the movie Field of Dreams once said, “Build it and they will come.” So who knows!

For the record, we’ve also recorded a drop-off for PA, PHPD, and MBS from October to March. But we’re seeing people from the other Tufts programs and all our various other affiliates here in larger numbers. Remember that everybody in the Tufts Community is welcome here all the same! Hirsh is for all of you.

Now the best way to see how good my guess about the extra study space is, of course, is to do something like, say, look at which floors were the busiest. But I’d have to have all that data handy and be able to put it in a totally different chart.


Good. News.

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Okay. Full disclosure: I always knew it would look like this. The 7th floor is crazy popular. We collect data year-round (which I will be discussing in a post a few months from now, for an end-of-year wrap-up), and one thing I have noticed is that the 7th floor is consistently twice the populous of any other floor. Twice! Which makes sense when you stop and think about it: it’s got the most of all kinds of study space, and is somehow still the quietest floor of the lot.

I think I speak for everyone here when I say: I’m glad you like it so much!

That’s all for now. Good luck with the remainder of your exams, and I’ll see you back here this summer for the big wrap up, when I talk about some interesting numbers (like busiest days) and how this year stacks up against years past!


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Hi all,

It’s been a little bit since my last post on Hirsh Library Statistics, which means it’s time again! So pour your favorite caffeinated beverage, grab a plate of free food (statistically speaking, there’s free food somewhere in this building right now), and relax as I offer you some numbers and information that you will not be tested on.

What a relief, right?

So, first up: we’ve actually held relatively steady this year as compared to last year, in terms of circulation and head counts. This probably comes as a surprise to everyone who has only been busier every year (I know I have), but there are always environmental factors to account for. For instance, if everyone’s using ebooks, they don’t need to check things out of Reserve, and in the numbers it looks like we’ve gone down. But our Open Workshops, librarian consultations, and even on the fly assistance at the Service Desk have all been super busy. So I want you to keep that in mind as you read on: everything requires a grain of salt.

Also to keep in mind, these numbers will be from July 1, 2017 to May 31, 2018.  The most interesting ones are smack in the center of the school year, though. For instance: our single busiest circulation day of the year was October 4th, when we were averaging a checkout every 5 minutes. That’s nutty! And that doesn’t account for all of the research assistance, troubleshooting, or item returns.

Of the top 10 spots for busiest Circulation day of the year, 4 are in October (which accounts for the top 3 spots), 3 are in September, and then the remainder is split between November, February, and March (there was a tie for #10).

Yes, that’s right. February. February! Here, let me shock you: This year, the busiest month was October, at 3412 checkouts. Second place went to September at 2983, but the shocker is February as third place and 28868. Third! I’m glad that you all love our library so much more than the cold February weather, because dang.

Click to embiggen

Okay, so that’s the overall look of things. The blue bars are the total numbers of times we’ve checked things out, and the red bars are the total numbers of people we’ve counted in the library. Things to know: the blue bars do not count the number of people, just number of checkouts (we don’t have a way to count number of people who have checked things out). And the red bars require staff to physically walk around, so there’s an element of human error in there. But still, what a snapshot!

You may also notice that October, while still very full, was actually not the top spot in seating counts. That honor goes to March, and my best guess would be “exam season.” But October cinched its second place spot, followed (again!) by February in third. Each one of those months is over 12,000 people sitting in the library, by the way. And in case you’re wondering, October did have the single busiest day for those, at 2,590 people on the 29th. February comes in second place here, with 1,057.

Dang, what a month.

Okay, so I know what you’re thinking. “Tom, what about all those times we were asked what program we were with?  What’s the deal with that?” Well good news, I have the deal with that!

For those who might not remember: HHSL staff walked around a few times a day, 7 days in the month of October and again in March, in an effort to find out how much the various programs use our library space, and we got some neat data. Behold!

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Click to make big

That’s a whole lot of people. That top chart focuses on the day of the week of a given count, and the bottom compares each program. I find that shift from being busier earlier in the week to being busier in the latter half rather interesting, although I don’t know if I can find a particular reason for it. Timing of exams, perhaps?

The second chart has my attention, however. Look at some of those numbers! I wonder what happened with the PHPD and MBS numbers, though. I do know that their exams did not quite line up with our counts the way that Dental and Medical’s did, so if I had to guess I’d say that it was just an issue of two or three weeks. Crazy how much of a difference that makes!

Finally, I will leave you with this chart, which goes to show just how much people love the 7th floor. Fun fact about this one: when you look at the numbers, the 7th floor is consistently twice as populated as any other floor. No wonder some people have trouble finding study cubicles – they’re always full!

Click to get all up in it

If you want to get a little deeper into this all, or have any questions about it, I am at the the HHSL Service Desk five days a week, and am always happy to talk shop. Otherwise, I hope you’re all enjoying the weather, and I look forward to seeing what the next year brings us!


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Hi everybody! It’s been a little bit since my last statistics post (just about one year, in fact), so it seemed high time for me to do another one of these. Today I’ll be focusing on October 2016 and March 2017, which were our two Affiliation Months this year. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, that’s when the library staff go and ask every person in the library what their program is, so that we can have a general sense of how our space is being used.

Still with me? Good!

Click to see full size

This first chart is comparing the Affiliation Stats from October 2016 and March 2017. To gather this info, we chose 7 days out of each month (one Sunday, one Monday, etc. All were chosen randomly) and on those days went around 4 times a day. This is always an interesting comparison due to the different programs and the way they operate. Dental and Medical students were gearing up for board and class exams, so it’s no surprise that we would see so many extras in March. There was a jump in PA as well (new class means new exams!), but then we saw drops with Sackler, Friedman, MBS, and PHPD. So what happened there? It’s hard to say. Different timing on exams, different demands on the classes, all sorts of things can affect attendance in the library. Ultimately, March was still the busier month: we counted 3,327 people in March, but only counted 3,115 people back in October.

The thing to keep in mind is that these numbers are only a snapshot. To truly know what the individual program attendance in this library is like for a full month we would need to gather this data every single day for that entire month, and that is unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how much quiet you like) unrealistic for us. Do you know what is quite realistic, however? Collecting a month’s worth of circulation data!

Click to enlarge

Bam. That’s a full month of data right there! So what does this show us when compared to the Affiliation graph? Well for one, we can see that the space was occupied more than our things were being checked out to a point, which is actually pretty normal. People do like checking things out (skulls! laptops! books! phone chargers! oh my!), but the library keeps adding more and more space, making it easier to go and hide out and get your studying in.

But here are some thoughts: why are the numbers so similar? We never have had a 1-1 relationship between studying and circulation before, but parts of this are surprisingly close. What’s causing the numbers to fluctuate the way they do? Consider: we have exams in March and April, and Extended Hours at the end of March. Affiliation was overall higher (by 212 people), but Circulation was lower (by 249 checkouts). Weird, right?

There are many factors that affect all of these numbers, but I won’t be going into them in this post. There’s only so much space, and I still need to talk about the floors!

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So. Dental students love the 7th floor. Surprise! Medical and MBS are also huge fans, so it looks like all of those new study carrels we added last summer really helped! Everybody else is spread rather evenly over the floors, although I do find it interesting that the PA students go up to 7 when they’re not in class (I guess to get away from the classrooms – can’t say I blame anyone). It’s good to see people like the furniture and spaces so much! Warms the heart (which is numbered and on a stand, and you can check out from the Library Service desk for 4 hours at a time. I’m not kidding).

The 7th floor has always been the most popular (generally about twice as popular as any of the other floors), and the breakdown after that is always fascinating. Medical students overwhelmingly prefer the 7th, followed by 6 – study quiet, which makes sense. Since the 4th and 5th floors offer some small group opportunities, those are split evenly. Dental may trend toward groups even more so than I used to think – perhaps that’s why there are so many up on 7, and then in decreasing order from 4, 5, and 6?

I would like to state that it is exciting to see Sackler, Friedman, PA, PHPD, and MBS showing up in larger and larger numbers. Hirsh Health Sciences Library is for everyone on the campus, and we want you all to feel welcome! That’s why we have so many study carrels, and the Collaboration Rooms, and craft days, and all the other things that make the days go round. And based on the posts from over the last few years, it seems like we’re only getting more and more popular, which is fantastic. Feel free to keep coming in bigger numbers, we have space for you all!

And on that uplifting note I will leave you for now. Perhaps I will be able to do a look at the full year’s numbers in a few months, so keep your eyes peeled. Until then: good luck with any exams you have left, and I’ll see you all around the library!


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