Over the last decade, Belgrade, MT, has grown and shifted from a small agricultural town to a diverse community of 12,700 in the exurbs of nearby Bozeman. In tandem, the Belgrade Community Library (BCL) has reimagined library services and aggressively developed new outreach efforts to meet the community’s changing needs. The result is intense engagement and support from the community and an impact that extends beyond Belgrade’s borders through active partnerships and state-level leadership.
In March 2011, the Boise Public Library (BPL), ID, used $3,300 in Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant funding to purchase four iPad 2 tablets and all of the trimmings. As it turned out, BPL may have been a couple of years ahead of its time. This conversation is now coming full circle. Technological advances continue to make tablets lighter, faster, and more affordable. Vendors have recently launched interfaces that make it possible to use a staff tablet to perform tasks ranging from weeding books to signing up new cardholders. Also, applying lessons learned about these devices during the past five years, many libraries are rebooting or enhancing the way tablets are integrated into roving reference, off-site programs, and other workflows.
Early in the morning of November 20 a lone gunman opened fire in Florida State University’s (FSU) Strozier Library, wounding three people. Around 12:30 a.m. staff and students inside Strozier called campus police to report that an armed subject, later identified as Myron May, had fired four shots outside the library and in its first floor lobby. Campus Law enforcement arrived in a matter of minutes to find May outside the library. When he ignored requests to drop his gun, then fired on the officers, he was shot and killed. Two of May’s victims were transported to local hospitals; a third was treated and released at the scene. While the incident was tragic for all involved, and for the FSU community as a whole, it was also notable for the many ways in which it averted a worse outcome.
Library security systems are described as “non-glamourous work-horses” on Bibliotheca’s website. It’s true that the core function—to deter theft and prevent materials that haven’t been properly checked out from accidentally walking out of the library—hasn’t changed much since 3M launched its Tattle Tape electromagnetic (EM) security system in the 1970s. However, many of the latest systems feature new functionality enhanced by RFID tags, along with sleek, unobtrusive design that gives public entryways a modern appearance.
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.