The ALA’s new public awareness initiative is a savvy approach to the broad challenge libraries face as they continue to evolve and must communicate what they actually contribute to their communities. Much more than talk, Libraries Transform is an actionable toolkit you should put to work now to help your constituency understand the real life of libraries.
Chelsea Dodd remembers learning how to handle money at an early age but later seeing grown-up cousins and college roommates prove terrible with their finances. To her, launching a series of programs at the Montclair Public Library, NJ, felt just as core to her mission as a librarian as helping patrons locate reference titles. Getting people to attend? That was another story.
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.