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.
This year, 207 of 2014’s Star Libraries retain their Star status, though their numbers of Stars may have changed. There are also 54 new or returning Star Libraries—ones that were not Stars in last year’s rating. While the 54 new Star Libraries in 2015 represent the lowest number of additions since the Index first appeared in 2009, there was still plenty of movement among the three-, four-, and five-Star categories in 2015.
The 2015 Star Libraries are found in 41 states scattered across the country geographically. The top five states, ranked by their numbers of Star Libraries, are New York (39), Ohio (28), Illinois (19), Massachusetts (15), and Kansas (12). The top ten states are rounded out by a three-way tie for places six to eight shared by California, Iowa, and Texas (each with 11), Nebraska (9), and Maine (8). Like these top ten states, the remaining 30 Star Library states are spread across the nation and in every major geographical region.
In late July 2015, one of the coauthors of this article—Keith Curry Lance—participated in the inaugural Research Institute for Public Libraries (RIPL) in Colorado Springs. During an “office hours” opportunity for participants to confer with RIPL speakers, a participant from Mississippi posed an interesting question: Given that there are no Star Libraries in our state, is there any appropriate use we can make of the LJ Index scores and data? The answer to that question is an enthusiastic yes!
This 2015 edition of the LJ Index is its eighth. The Institute of Museum & Library Services’ (IMLS) recently released FY13 Public Library Survey (PLS) data set, on which the LJ Index is based, contains for the first time data on circulation of electronic materials—primarily downloadable ebooks and audio and video files. We had hoped to be able to incorporate this new data into the LJ Index design this year, but that was not possible for several reasons. That change must be put off one more year. As the key obstacle, nonreports will be greatly diminished in the next data release (FY14 data in 2016), and we expect to make that change next time around.
A natural assumption upon learning that a library won Stars for the first time, won more or fewer Stars, or lost Star status is that that library’s per capita statistics for visits, circulation, public Internet terminal use, or program attendance must have changed dramatically. However, there are three sets of factors that can affect a library’s Star status, and two of them can apply even when there is no significant change in a library’s own statistics.
Whether or not your library has been given a star rating, you can benefit from finding peers in your expenditure category and comparing stats. For the scores for all libraries included in this round of the LJ Index, use the links below to download a spreadsheet with the libraries rated, their ratings, and the data from which the ratings were derived.
LJ Index of Public Library Service 2015 The Star Libraries All the Stars, State by State Do-It-Yourself Projects with LJ Index Data E-Circ Not Ready for Prime Time Understanding Star Status Shifts Find Your Library Every Star Library Ever Named LJ Index FAQ The LJ Index is based on four types of per capita use […]
The constellation of Star Libraries changes dramatically from year to year. As it does every year, the 2013 Star Libraries illustrates that each annual round introduces a substantial set of new Star Libraries, sees the fortunes of continuing Star Libraries change—as libraries change peer groups and gain and lose stars—and, indeed, sees many of the previous year’s honorees lose their Star Library status altogether. The explanations for these changes are varied and complex. Whether a public library gains or loses Star Library status or sees that status change more subtly is determined as much by the fortunes of other libraries in a library’s spending peer group as by the per capita service output of its own institution. In this year’s article, we will highlight the new Star Libraries that were not on the 2012 list, Star Libraries that maintained their star status despite changing spending peer groups, Star Libraries that gained or lost stars from 2012 to 2013, and libraries that lost Star Library status in 2013.