“Blame it on the rain,” Milli Vanilli said (well, they didn’t actually say it, but they did lip sync it convincingly). Rain takes the rap for a lot of things, the most common of which is probably poor attendance. When it rains, there’s an expectation that many of us behave like we’re the Wicked Witch of the West or made of suede and tuck ourselves away in our hidey holes until the sun returns. But do we?
Thursday in Benbrook, we got some pretty gnarly rain after going without for a little over a month. I thought it would make for a slow day at the library, and I swear it felt noticeably less busy, but at the end of the day, our gate count (number of library visitors) was at 280, which is pretty typical for a Thursday. Yesterday morning, it was pouring down something fierce again, and I and some other staff members speculated that the weather might hurt attendance at our “Music, Movement, and Me” program, but we ended up drawing healthy numbers. What gives? Don’t people know it’s raining?
As it turns out, yes, they do; they just don’t care. Using the site Weather Underground, I noted every day it has rained in Benbrook for the past six months and looked up the library’s gate count for each of those days. I then calculated averages for overall gate count, gate count on days with rain, and gate count for days without rain for each month. The results were surprising:
These numbers show that we actually get slightly more library visitors when it rains. Of course, my sample size is way too small to make any definitive statements about patron rain behavior, and there are some confounding variables (certain days of the week have proven to be busier than others, we’re open fewer hours on Friday and Saturday, the popularity of children’s summer programs may lead families to be less likely to let weather impede them during those months, etc.), but at the very least, I feel comfortable concluding that rain is not a significant deterrent to visiting the library.
So, rain, rain, do what you want. Library users don’t mind.