The “test-weeks” are periods of one to two weeks during which on-site consultation of the collections are observed and assessed.
This system is based on reading and recording the bar codes of the actual documents consulted by the users; they are asked not to re-shelve the documents themselves, even after consulting for just a few minutes. The “re-shelving staff” carry out the bar-code scanning of documents placed on the carts by the readers before replacing them in the aisle.
The data collected are analysed quantitatively and qualitatively and these analyses are presented in detailed reports. When compared with the visitor surveys and statistics, as well as the figures concerning the collections, a rate and a map of consultations can be obtained by subject areas, languages, publication dates or types of documents. Multiple consultations are taken into account and a top-ranking of documents most consulted are established, etc.
By comparing with the results of previous test-weeks, these analyses also allow the measurement of trends in the use of our collections.
Some test-weeks (in 2001 and 2003) were extended beyond the simple evaluation of on-site consultation of documents. Over a longer period, we have been able to exploit a certain number of specific indicators on the circulation, activity and demands of the public (for example, a log of actions recorded in the notebooks of the Service Heads; a log of typological questions asked at the information desks; a log of questions asked of the remote answering service; various uses of computer terminals in the dedicated rooms and areas; recording the number of reservations of terminals for sound, video or self-study, booths for the vision-impaired, number of actions of maintenance on the computer terminals, etc.)
For the methodology of the test-weeks, see the article of M. Amar and B. Béguet, “LES SEMAINES TEST : Évaluation de l'utilisation des collections imprimées sur place à la Bpi”, in BBF 2006, t. 51, n°6.