- The Star Libraries
- Beyond the Stars
- All the Stars, State by State
- The Case for New Outputs
- Spotlights: New and Improved Stars
- The More Things Change
- Find a Library
- LJ Index FAQ
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A major strength of the annual Star Library ratings is that while some public libraries have various kinds of built-in advantages that tend to keep them on the list [see the LJ Index FAQ,], in fact, a substantial proportion of the Star Libraries are new to this recognition each year. Of 2013’s 263 Star Libraries, 67 (25.5 percent) were not Star Libraries in 2012. Notably, this year’s percentage of new Star Libraries is higher than it has been in four of the last five years (those four years, ranging from 19.4 percent in fall 2009 to 24.4 percent in 2010). So, generally, the trend over time is increasing annually the percentage of new Star Libraries. Attaining the status of a new Star Library is also becoming more competitive, as, by design, Star Libraries as a percentage of all eligible public libraries has remained static at 3.5 percent—the same ratio as in fall 2009.
Another noteworthy trend concerns the distribution of star-eligible public libraries by spending group: while there is an occasional exceptional year, generally, the peer groups spending less than $100,000 annually have become smaller year by year, while the groups spending $100,000 or more are becoming larger. In other words, over time, more and more libraries are surpassing the $50,000 and $100,000 annual spending thresholds (see Table 1).
The new 2013 Star Libraries are located throughout the nation, in all four major regions and in 27 states.
New York tops the list of states with the most new Star Libraries. These include one new 4-Star and five new 3-Star libraries. Notably, these new Star Libraries include ones with some of the highest and lowest expenditures in the state and the nation:
- Huntington Public Library ($5M–$9.9M, )
- Jericho Public Library ($1M–$4.9M, )
- Manlius Library ($1M–$4.9M, )
- Sea Cliff Village Library ($200K–$399.9K, )
- Southworth Library Association, Dryden ($100K–$199.9K, )
- Bolton Free Library, Bolton Landing ($50K–$99.9K, )
Iowa and Ohio tie for the second largest number of new Star Libraries this year—five each. Iowa’s honorees include three new 4-Star Libraries in the $50K–$99.9K spending peer group—Dr. Grace O. Doane (Alden), Hubbard, and Wellsburg—and two new 3-Star Libraries in the $10K–$49.9K group—Dexter and Elgin. Ohio’s honorees include Loudonville, a new 4-Star Library in the $400K–$999.9K group; a new Star Library at each level in the $200K–$399.9K group—Fairport Harbor, ; St. Paris, ; and Leetonia, —and Bettsville, a new 4-Star Library in the $100K–$199.9K group.
Three states tied for the third largest number of new Star Libraries in 2013—four each—Colorado, Massachusetts, and Nebraska. Colorado’s new honorees include a new 4-Star Library in the top-spending group ($30M+)—the capital city’s Denver Public Library—two new 3-Star Libraries in lower-spending groups (Ridgway Library District, $200K–$499.9K, and Limon Public Library, $50K–$99.9K); and a new 5-Star Library in the lowest-spending group ($10K–$49.9K)—the joint Swink School/Public Library. New Massachusetts Star Libraries include a new 5-Star honoree—Provincetown Public Library—a new 4-Star winner—Stockbridge Library Association—and two new 3-Star Libraries—Snow Library ($400K–$999.9K) and Dennis Memorial Library Association ($100K–$199.9K). Nebraska’s stars include a new 3-Star honoree in the $50K–$99.9K spending group—Oakland Public Library—two new 5-Star honorees in the $10K–$49.9K group—Bloomfield Public Library and Genoa Public Library; and an additional new 3-Star honoree in that same group—Creighton Public Library.
Five states tied for the fourth largest number of new Star Libraries in 2013—three each. Those states are Alaska, Illinois, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota. Eight states each had two new Star Libraries: Arizona, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. And eight more states each had a single new Star Library: California, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, and Utah. New Star honorees in these states are identified in Table A.
The 27 states with new Star Libraries in 2013 represent all four major regions of the United States:
- Five Northeastern states (Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania)
- Four Southern states (Florida, Kentucky, Texas, Virginia)
- Eleven Midwestern states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin)
- Seven Western states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah)
Of the 67 new Star Libraries in 2013, 16 (almost 25 percent) spend $5 million or more annually.
Three of these new Star Libraries spend $30 million or more annually:
- Denver Public Library,
- Saint Louis County Library,
- Salt Lake County Library System,
Eight new Star Libraries spend $10 million–$29.9 million annually. New 4-Star libraries in this group include Kenton County Public Library (Ft. Mitchell, KY—that state’s first Star Library ever); Capital Area District Library (Lansing, MI); Somerset County Library (Bridgewater, NJ); and Henrico County Public Library (VA). New 3-Star libraries in this group include Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library (KS); Ramsey County Library (Shoreview, MN); Eugene Public Library (OR); and Loudoun County Public Library (Leesburg, VA).
Among libraries spending $5 million–$9.9 million annually, there are five new Star Libraries. New 5-Star libraries are Westport Public Library (CT) and Ela Area Public Library District (Lake Zurich, IL). The new 4-Star library in this group is La Crosse Public Library (WI). The group’s new 3-Star libraries are two additional Illinois honorees: Mount Prospect Public Library and Vernon Area Public Library District (Lincolnshire).
Changes in a library’s fiscal fortunes may affect the group of libraries to which it is compared in the LJ Index, but they do not necessarily increase or decrease the odds of it receiving a given number of stars. Ten libraries earned Star Library status in both 2012 and 2013, despite changing spending groups. There is no predicting how the direction of such a change will impact a library’s star status. Of these ten libraries, two gained and four lost stars as a result of changing peer groups.
Of the five libraries that moved to higher spending groups between 2012 and 2013, one gained a star, while two lost stars.
- Red Hook Public Library (NY): from $100K–$199.9K to $200K–$399.9K,
- Monticello Township Library (IL): from $200K–$399.9K to $400K–$999.9K,
- Macsherry Library (Alexandria Bay, NY): from $50K–$99.9K to $100K–$199.9K,
Surprisingly, of the five libraries that moved to lower spending groups between 2012 and 2013, the same pattern occurred: one gained a star, while two lost stars.
- Rogersville Public Library (AL): from $100K–$299.9K to $50K–$99.9K,
- Parker Public Library (AZ): from $200K–$99.9K to $100K–$299.9K,
- Mt. Pleasant Public Library (UT): from $100K–$199.9K to $50K–$99.9K,
The four remaining libraries maintained the same number of stars despite spending enough, more or less, to change peer groups.
- Mattituck-Laurel Library (Mattituck, NY): from $400K–$999.9K to $1M–$4.9M,
- Seward Community Library (AK): from $400K–$999.9K to $200K–$399.9K,
- Cordova District Library (IL): from $200K–$399.9K to $100K–$199.9K,
- Centerville Community Library (SD): from $10K–$49.9K to $50K–$99.9K,
So, whether a library is a Star Library or not is not merely a matter of resources; it depends on what one does with them as well as the fortunes of other libraries in one’s spending group. What is most remarkable about these libraries that changed peer groups, however, is not whether they gained or lost stars, but that they remained Star Libraries despite changing peer groups. For a closer look at the Star Libraries that moved from one expenditure group to another from 2012 to 2013, see Table B.
Stars brighten, stars dim
Another strength of the three-level rating system (5-, 4-, and 3-Star Libraries) is that where a library rates among the Star Libraries is also quite dynamic from year to year. Just because a library earns five stars one year is no guarantee that it will do so the following year. Of the 196 public libraries that earned Star Library status in both the 2012 and the 2013 editions, 30 increased and 34 decreased their number of stars. So, among the repeat Star Libraries, fully one-third (33 percent) experienced a significant change in status. For a closer look at how an individual library’s number of stars has increased or decreased from 2012 to 2013, see Table C.
Conspicuous among the Star Libraries that gained stars are two that moved from
to status: Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library ($30M+) and Kansas City Public Library (MO) ($10M–$29.9M).
That a library earns stars one year is no guarantee that it will earn any the following year. Of last year’s 262 Star Libraries, 66 (25 percent) earned no stars this year. Of those 66 libraries, ten lost star status simply because they did not report all four of the required statistics—visits, circulation, Internet computer use, and program attendance—to receive a score on the LJ Index of Public Library Service, on which the star ratings are based. Of the remaining 56 former Star Libraries, only nine (16 percent) moved to a different spending peer group between 2012 and 2013—six actually moved to a higher spending group and only three to a lower one. This means that 47 (84 percent) of the former Star Libraries that remained “contenders” for the honor experienced real changes in circumstance that explain their disappearance from the Star Libraries list this year—or, alternatively, at least one of their peer libraries excelled substantially compared to last year. For a list of libraries that lost Star Library status in 2013, see Table D.