The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Chief Offices of State Library Agencies (COSLA) recently announced a project called “Measures that Matter,” with the aim of evaluating data collection by public libraries in the United States. This project will survey the current state of public library data, assessing current strengths and weaknesses and formulating a plan for future action.
We are pleased to announce the results of the ninth edition of the Library Journal Index of Public Library Service, sponsored by Baker & Taylor’s Bibliostat. The LJ Index rates U.S. public libraries based on selected per capita output measures. The 2016 LJ Index derives from data recently released by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for FY14.
Although IMLS has begun collecting data on Wi-Fi access usage, we did not include Wi-Fi use this year because there are ten states whose data reporting schedules mean that they will always be one year behind the other 41 in reporting any new data element. While we reluctantly excluded libraries from one state this year in order to introduce e-circ to the LJ Index, excluding libraries in ten was unthinkable.
This year we are again posting a detailed spreadsheet (link below) listing every Star Library award given since the inaugural edition of the LJ Index in February 2009. We have rated U.S. public libraries annually since then, and twice in that initial year due to scheduling of the release of the 2006 data. (That year the responsibility for releasing the Public Libraries in the United States Survey had transferred from the National Center for Educational Statistics to the Institute of Museum and Library Service (IMLS).
The LJ Index is based on five types of per capita use they generate: visits, circulation, ecirculation, public access computer use, and program attendance. Star Library ratings of five, four, and three stars are awarded to libraries that generate the highest combined per capita outputs among their spending peers.
Historically, the four measures included in the Library Journal Index of Public Library Service (sponsored by Baker & Taylor’s Bibliostat) have been circulation, library visits, program attendance, and public Internet computer use. Now, the design of the LJ Index is beginning to evolve. The stars have finally aligned to add a fifth statistical measure to the scoring—circulation of electronic materials, or e-circ for short. Because the LJ Index is based on data collected by the Public Libraries Survey (PLS)—a federal-state cooperative project of IMLS and the state library agencies—the Index could not add new measures until PLS did.
As adults, we might cover our ears with our hands at a loud blast or use headphones or earbuds to curate the sounds we want to enter our eardrums, but sticking our fingers in our ears and yelling, “I can’t hear you!” is usually frowned upon. I’m not proud to say that at a recent team meeting, I did just that. Of course, I did so in jest, but it got me thinking about how easy it is to dismiss ideas that I don’t want to hear.