One of the many reasons Alberta’s Edmonton Public Library (EPL) was chosen as Gale/LJ Library of the Year for 2014 is its commitment to community services. In particular, EPL’s outreach program to support the city’s homeless population is a necessary initiative in a rapidly growing urban center—Canada’s fifth-largest municipality—where temperatures rarely rise above freezing from November through March. Not only has the program survived the loss of its province-based funding, with the library system itself stepping in to cover costs, but this winter EPL’s outreach will expand to five additional branches on a pilot basis.
Today’s learners have more options than ever on their paths to education, but they will also encounter more obstacles. We may live in an age of access to information, but it’s becoming increasingly easy for students to miss out on crucial information during their middle and high school years—a high school diploma is no guarantee that they will be prepared for the requirements of college—and after graduation, especially for those who do not go on to higher education. Working as partners, however, different types of libraries can join forces to help students bridge the gap from high school to higher ed to the workforce while remaining a viable part of their lives.
On November 24 a grand jury in Ferguson, MO, delivered its verdict on the August 9 shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by a Ferguson police officer. The St. Louis County grand jury chose not to bring criminal charges against the officer, Darren Wilson; the decision, which was announced just after 8 p.m. CST, set off a night of protests and civil unrest, the most violent including arson, shattered windows, injuries, and, as of press time, a possible murder.
We are very pleased to announce the results of the seventh 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 types of output measures of their per capita use. When the LJ Index and its Star Library ratings were introduced in 2008, our hope was that whether libraries were awarded stars or not, they would examine these statistics more closely—both for their own library and for their peers—and make fuller use of these and other types of data for local planning and evaluation purposes. In the meantime, however, another type of data has come to the fore—outcomes. Here we will explore what some of this year’s Star Libraries are doing with outcome measures.
Despite the promotion of outcome-based evaluation by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) almost from its inception in 1996, the difference among an input, an output, and an outcome is still unclear to many in the public library community. Indeed, the term input can be added to this confusion. So, some might find it helpful to substitute for the sound-alike terms input, output, and outcome “library resources,” “library services,” and “user changes.”
Click a state above, or use the drop-down below to jump to the Star libraries in that state. Star libraries are listed alphabetically by state abbreviation, then ranked by stars and score. Please note that expenditure category peer comparisons are the critical ones; for the Star Libraries by expenditure category please go to The Star Libraries page.
Generally, public library outcome assessment has relied on self-reported data from library patrons. In many cases, voluntary self-reports from library patrons is the only reasonable approach to learning how they benefited from using a collection, service, or program. But, it is not the only kind of outcome data. Sometimes, for a particular library service, there may be more objective and comprehensive data on the outcome of interest.
Three dozen Star Library interviewees were asked to identify new output measures they felt should be available, based on their experiences with outcome measurement. Their responses included both more detailed versions of existing outputs and entirely new ones, reflecting the expanding technology-based roles of public libraries. The proposed measures suggest the connections these library administrators see between outputs and outcomes.
When we conceived the LJ Index in 2008, neither we nor anyone else in the public library community would have imagined we all would have to wait five years for a new output measure to be mandated for U.S. public libraries. The drought appears to be over, as at least two new output measures are likely to be added to the federal Public Library Survey over the next two years. In 2015, IMLS will be reporting the first data (for 2013) on e-circulation. In 2016, if the current trajectory of deliberations and decision-making by IMLS and the state library agencies are fulfilled, another new output measure is expected: Wi-Fi access usage.