Visual traffic sweeps (VTS): a research method for mapping user activities in the library space

Lisa Given, Heather Archibald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The visual traffic sweeps (VTS) approach combines traditional observational methods for assessing library space with geographic information system (GIS) visualization techniques. This unique approach to spatial analysis can be used across library and information settings (or in other spaces with large amounts of human traffic) to map patterns in user behavior. Results of the visual analyses can be triangulated with other methods (e.g., questionnaires or interviews) to better inform library policy and space planning decisions. Findings from a study that used VTS in the business library of a large, urban university illustrate the potential application of this technique across library settings. Specific findings (e.g., patrons' preferences for certain spaces for laptop use, despite the library reserving other space for laptops) demonstrate the power of visualization techniques for analyzing results in ways that are not possible with standard statistical analysis approaches. In addition, the visual maps that result from the analysis process are useful for the presentation of visual data in conference presentations and/or to library stakeholders. Overall, this approach provides evidence for space planning decisions that are grounded in users' real activities within the library space.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-108
Number of pages9
JournalLibrary & Information Science Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015

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