September 17, 2017

America’s Star Libraries, 2015: Top-Rated Libraries


We are pleased to announce the results of the eighth edition of the Library Journal Index of Public Library Service, sponsored by Baker & Taylor’s Bibliostat. The LJ Index is a measurement tool that compares U.S. public libraries with their spending peers based on four per capita output measures: circulation, library visits, program attendance, and public Internet computer use. Scores on the LJ Index are produced by measuring the relationships between each library’s statistics and the averages for its expenditure category.

This year, there are 261 Star Libraries, 54 of which were not Star Libraries last year. If you are new to the LJ Index and the Star Library ratings, please consult the FAQ, which will probably answer all or most of your questions about when, why, and how the LJ Index and Star Library ratings were created; the sources and limitations of the data on which they are based; and how they do—or why they don’t—address certain issues.

Also, for the first time this year, the many online-only resources associated with this published article include an expanded data file on all public libraries that received LJ Index scores. The purpose of this expanded data set is to enable those associated with non-Star Libraries to undertake their own “do-it-yourself” projects. Some ideas for such projects are included in this year’s article.

In 2015, 7,663 U.S. public libraries —more than ever before—were scored on the LJ Index of Public Library Service. Each year, the constellation of Star Libraries changes with the data reported (and not reported), the movement of public libraries from one spending peer group to another, the relative fortunes of libraries in the same peer group, and the actual fortunes of individual institutions.

As we often do, we begin this year with a rundown of the changes among the Star Libraries since last year’s edition.

The 2015 LJ Index—the basis for the Star ratings—is derived from data recently released by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for FY13. Eligible libraries are grouped by total operating expenditures and, within each of those groups, rated based on their differences from the means (or averages) of four per capita statistics: library visits, circulation, program attendance, and public Internet computer use.

» Next page: “The Star Libraries”

The Star Libraries Find Your Library All the Stars, State by State Do-It-Yourself Projects with LJ Index Data E-Circ Not Ready for Prime Time The Star Libraries by Expenditure Category Understanding Star Status Shifts Every Star Library Ever Named FAQ All the Stars, State by State

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Keith Curry Lance & Ray Lyons About Keith Curry Lance & Ray Lyons

Keith Curry Lance ( is an independent consultant based in suburban Denver. He also consults with the Colorado-based RSL Research Group. In both capacities, he conducts research on libraries of all types for state library agencies, state library associations, and other library-related organizations. For more information, visit
Ray Lyons ( is an independent consultant and statistical programmer in Cleveland. His articles on library statistics and assessment have also appeared in Public Library Quarterly, Public Libraries, and Evidence Based Library and Information Practice. He blogs on library statistics and assessment at

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  1. all libraries are five star libraries

  2. Very nice. Congratulations!

  3. Am I understanding that if your towns population is under 1000, you aren’t considered for the star rating?