Domain: Events 2017



Pre-arranged activities such as tours, lectures, and other programs organized or hosted by the Repository can be an important and effective means of outreach to researchers, donors, the general public, and other constituencies. Collecting statistical information about Events can enable a Repository to assess the effectiveness of its programming and engagement with its audiences. Repositories may also benefit from analyzing costs associated with Events in relation to the measures defined below.

Basic measure (“Number of Events”)

Count the number of Events organized or hosted by the Repository, including lectures, presentations, tours, and other Events. Events may have a literary, cultural, or educational intent, but are distinct from Instruction Sessions, which are to be counted separately (see Instruction domain).


Recording the total number of Events a Repository offers provides a basic index of the Repository’s outreach efforts.

Guidelines for collection:

  • Count each Event only once, even if it includes multiple sessions or extends over multiple days.
  • If an Event is repeated on multiple occasions, such as a lecture or performance given two or more times to different audiences, count each presentation of the Event separately.
  • Include Events that are presented in conjunction with Exhibitions, such as receptions, curatorial talks and tours, related lectures and workshops, etc.

Application and examples:

  • A talk is given to a friends group and is repeated at a later date to a community organization. Count 2 Events.
  • A historical society installs an Exhibition that is open for three months. It also hosts an opening reception, two evening lectures related to the Exhibition content, and three monthly curator’s chats while the Exhibition is on display. Count 6 Events. (Note: the Exhibition would be counted separately as one Exhibition. See Exhibitions domain.)

Advanced measure (“Event Attendees”)

Count the number of individuals who attend an Event.


Counting the number of attendees at Events provides a basic indicator of the success of a Repository’s efforts to provide Events that its constituencies value and of its marketing efforts.

Guidelines for collection:

  • Methods used to count Event attendees can vary according to the type of Event.
  • For seated Events, count or estimate the number of filled seats at the Event, or subtract the number of vacant seats from the total seating capacity.
  • For standing Events, such as receptions, try counting numbers of conversational groups and multiplying by an average group size. Try counting more than once, or having more than one person count, and then compare and average counts. Try to count at peak attendance times.
  • For invited Events, count only those who attend, not all RSVPs.
  • For Events at which name tags are used, count the number of badges that are filled in or picked up, or subtract the number not picked up from the total number prepared.
  • For Events at which attendees are encouraged to sign a guestbook, count the number of names entered.
  • For ticketed events, count the number of ticket stubs or scans collected at the entrance to the Event.
  • For online Events, such as webcasts, count the number of viewers. For radio and television broadcasts, the broadcast station may be able to provide an estimated audience size for the program. Count only Events that are live or are broadcast at specific times. Do not count views or downloads of previously recorded Events that remain available for online viewing or listening on demand via a website, but do count them as page views or file downloads (see Online Interactions domain).
  • Exclude Repository staff unless they attend the Event for their own enjoyment and are not obliged to work at the Event.
  • Repositories may wish to record demographic information about attendees when available. See also User Demographics domain.

Application and examples:

  • A historical society holds an opening reception for its new Exhibition. RSVPs are requested to help with the catering estimate, but not required. A box of 100 blank name tags and markers are provided at a greeter’s table. At the end of the evening, 20 blank tags are left. Count 80 attendees.

Advanced measure (“Length of Event”)

Record the total duration of the Event.


Tracking the duration of Events can support a Repository’s efforts to assess inputs, such as staffing time and direct expenditures, and results, such as numbers of attendees, in relation to the amount of time that Events are enjoyed by participants. Tracking the cumulative length of Events can also provide a complementary index to numbers of Events.

Guidelines for collection:

  • Record the measure in hours and fractions of an hour.
  • Calculate the total length of time an Event lasts. For starting and ending times, use the times when the Event was scheduled to begin and end, or when it actually began and ended.
  • Include question-and-answer periods after talks, receptions, and other segments that involve the participation of Event attendees.
  • Exclude Event setup or breakdown and cleanup times.
  • Exclude attendee arrival times (e.g., “doors open at”) times, unless attendees are given opportunities to view an exhibition, or mingle with staff or other attendees, etc., prior to the start of the formal program.

Application and examples:

  • A public library archives hosted a public lecture given by a popular local author. Invitations and announcements for the event indicated that the event would start at 6:00pm with doors opening at 5:30pm for seating. The announcement also mentioned that a reception would follow the lecture. Staff arrive at the event location at 5:00 pm to ensure that audio-visual equipment is working. Staff signal the caterers to begin cleaning up at 7:45 pm as the last attendees are leaving. Staff secure the location and leave at 8:30 pm. Record the length of the Event 1.75 hours.

Advanced measure (“Type of Event”)

Categorize the type of Events organized or hosted by the Repository.


Categorizing Events by type can provide Repositories with a means of comparing preparation time, attendance, and other measures across Events of the same type or different types.

Guidelines for collection:

  • Identify and categorize the types of Events according to criteria that have meaning for the Repository and permit unambiguous classification. Common Event types include receptions, meals, lectures, concerts/performances, award ceremonies, book launches, discussion groups, workshops, tours, open houses, etc. Events that include more than one type of activity may be categorized as “mixed” or according to their primary function.
  • Many events will have a literary, cultural, or educational intent, but do not have to be limited to only those intents
  • Do not include Instruction Sessions, which should be counted separately (see Instruction domain).

Application and examples:

  • A Repository hosts an Event that includes a reception before a lecture. Counted one Event, and categorize it as a lecture since that was its primary purpose. Alternatively, the Event could be categorized as “mixed.”
  • A Repository hosts a donor recognition dinner that includes brief remarks or presentation by staff. Count one Event, and categorize it as a dinner or as donor Event, if the Repository wishes to track how many Events it holds to recognize or cultivate donors.

Advanced measure (“Event Preparation Time”)

Record the amount of time Repository staff spend preparing and hosting Events.


Tracking the number of hours that staff contribute to preparing and hosting events can enable Repositories to monitor the impact of holding events on staffing resources. Increasing the number of events or offering events that require more preparation time may require a reallocation of staffing resources. The amount of time required to prepare for different types of Events may assist the Repository in future Event planning, especially when considered in conjunction with other measures, such as number of attendees, or outcomes such as media coverage, donations, etc.

Guidelines for collection:

  • Count in hours the approximate total time spent by all staff preparing and hosting Events.
  • Develop a tallying or reporting system for staff who are involved with preparing and hosting Events so that Event-related activities are consistently recorded.
  • Include the amount of time spent planning and marketing the Event, coordinating Event logistics, setting up for the Event, staffing the Event, cleaning up after the Event, paying bills, sending thank-yous, etc. Event preparation might also include researching and retrieving materials for a temporary display, preparing remarks and programs, etc.
  • Exclude time spent by contracted agencies such as caterers, and security, housekeeping, and other staff that may be supplied by the parent organization unless those staff are considered employees or volunteers of the Repository.

Application and examples:

  • A historical society hosted a musical performance related to one of its collections. Administrative staff spent 6 hours managing the invitation, contracting, and general arrangements for the performers. They spent 4 hours consulting with the external marketing agent that created the publicity posters and coordinated public service announcements in local media. On the day of the event, two administrative staff spent 4 hours each on site overseeing the event set up, welcoming guests, and clean up. Two volunteers spent 3 hours each at the event helping with various tasks and seating guests. After the event, administrative staff spent another 3 hours sending thank-you notes to the performers and volunteers, paying bills, and filing Event-related paperwork. Count 27 hours.

Recommended metrics

Total Events per month/year

  • Tabulating the total number of Events held during given periods of time and comparing totals across periods can help Repositories monitor the resources they devote to organizing and hosting events.

Average number of Events per month/year

  • Calculating the average number of Events held during a given period of time can provide a baseline metric for monitoring their frequency from year to year or at different periods of the year so that resources required to support Events can be allocated accordingly.

Average number of attendees per Event

  • Calculating the average number of attendees per Event can provide a consistent index for comparing attendance across Events of the same type or during different periods. For example, it might be useful to compare the average number of attendees at all lecture programs from year to year to gauge the success of program series and promotion.

Average preparation time per Event

  • Calculating the average amount of time staff spend preparing for and staffing similar types of Events can provide insights into the level of staffing needed to maintain or grow a Repository’s Events program.

Preparation time per attendee

  • Calculating and monitoring the amount of time staff spend preparing and staffing Events per attendee can provide a useful metric for evaluating the utilization of resources that a Repository devotes to supporting Events.


Next: Domain: Instruction


Table of Contents


Measures and Metrics:

Appendix A: Glossary