The 2018 Stars | LJ Index 2018

The 11th annual Index spotlights the best of the best of America's public libraries on five key measures of service.

New stars, repeat stars, and changing constellations

Every public library is a star to the community it serves. LJ’s Star Library Ratings and the LJ Index of Public Library Service spotlight the best of the best across America. The 2018 edition, sponsored by Baker & Taylor’s CollectConnect, is the 11th. This year, 7,361 U.S. public libraries are scored on the LJ Index, and there are 257 Star Libraries, 59 of which were not Star Libraries last year.

Five different measures of the service libraries deliver to their communities were taken into account when determining this year’s Index scores and Star status: overall circulation, circulation of electronic materials, library visits, program attendance, and public Internet computer use. While most Star Libraries are strong performers across the board, that’s not required: a stellar success in one category can make up for less of a focus on another.

In order to make fair, apples-to-apples comparisons, each library is compared to its peers that have about the same amount of funding to spend. As a result, receiving a star rating not only means that the library itself delivers a strong return on investment, but that when graded on a curve, it is one of the strongest performers. As a result, a library’s star rating can change from year to year, not because that library’s own performance has changed, but because its fellow libraries have raised their own achievements, so they’re being graded on a different curve.

From 2009 to 2015, the index was based on four per capita statistics: circulation, library visits, program attendance, and public Internet computer use. For the two previous editions, 2016 and 2017, those statistics were joined by circulation of electronic materials per capita. This year, we had expected to add Wi-Fi sessions per capita to the index, but, unfortunately, reporting failed to reach the level targeted for this year. Thus, the index continues to be based on the same five statistics in use since 2016, though that will change starting with the 2019 edition (see “Wi-Fi Sessions: Third Time’s the Charm”).

 

THE 2018 STARS

The 2018 LJ Index—the basis for the Star ratings—is derived from the Public Library Survey (PLS) of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The current round of PLS data was released in April 2018 for FY16. Eligible libraries are grouped by total operating expenditures and, within each group, rated based on their differences from the means (or averages) of the five per capita statistics.

For more information about the Star Library ratings and the LJ Index, see the FAQ at libraryjournal.com/­LJIndexFAQ. It explains when, why, and how the Index and Ratings were created and explores issues with the underlying data. Basically, LJ Index scores measure the proportional relationships between each library’s statistics and the averages for its expenditure category.

Libraries scored on the LJ Index but without Star Library ratings are encouraged to undertake “do-it-yourself” projects. Resources to facilitate such efforts c

newan be found at ­libraryjournal.com/­LJIndex2018. Additional data elements—legal basis type, administrative code (single vs. multiple outlet), numbers of central and branch libraries, total full-time equivalent staff, volumes held, and total collection expenditures—are included in the data file to facilitate refining a library’s peers. Ideas for and examples of such projects were included in the articles for 2015 and 2017.

 

NEW STARS

There are 60 new Star libraries for 2018—ones that were not Stars in last year’s edition, though they may have been Star Libraries in a previous year.

Among libraries spending $30 million or more, there is one new Star Library: the District of Columbia Public Library joins the three-Star group.

Among libraries spending $10 million–$29.9 million, there are five new Star Libraries. The lone new five-Star library is Howard County Library System, Ellicott City, MD, and the lone new four-Star library is San Mateo County Libraries, CA. The remaining three are new three-Star libraries: Central Arkansas Library System, Little Rock; Gail Borden Public Library District, Elgin, IL; and Kent District Library, Comstock, MD.

Among libraries spending $1 million–$4.9 million, there are four new three-Star libraries: Coffey County Library, Burlington, KS; Matteson Area Public Library District, IL; Salem-South Lyon District Library, MI; and Wilmette Public Library District, IL.

Among libraries spending $400,000–$999,999, there are two new four-Star and three new three-Star libraries. The four-Star libraries are Lunenburg Public Library, MA, and San Anselmo Public Library, CA. The three-Star libraries are Dennis Public Library, Dennis Port, MA; Joyce K. Carver Memorial Public Library. Soldotna, AK; and ­Skidompha Public Library, Damariscotta, ME.

Among libraries spending $200,000–$399,999, there are nine new Star Libraries. New four-Star libraries are Meekins Public Library, Williamsburg, MA; Robertsdale Public Library, AL; and Waldport Public Library, OR. New three-Star libraries are Ak-Chin Indian Community Library, Maricopa, AZ; American Falls District Library, ID; Bandon Public Library, OR; Clifton Springs Library, NY; Goodland Public Library, KS; and Page Public Library, AZ.

Among libraries spending $100,000–$199,999, there are eight new Star Libraries. New four-Star libraries are Charles B. Phillips Public Library District, Newark, IL; Marjorie Younce Snook Public Library, Summerdale, AL; Williamsport–Washington Township Public Library, IN; and Witherle Memorial Library, Castine, ME. New three-Star libraries are Apalachin Library Association, NY; Bandera County Library, TX; Ely Public Library, IA; and Holyoke/Heginbotham Library, CO.

Among libraries spending $50,000–$99,999, there are 13 new Star Libraries. Two new five-Star libraries are Lisbon Public Library, ND, and P’oe Tsawa Community Library, Ohkay Owingeh, NM. Four new four-Star libraries are Arapahoe Public Library, NE; Litchfield District Library, MI; Pelham Library, MA; and Pembroke Public Library District, Hopkins Park, IL. New three-Star libraries are Bath Public Library, NH; Teton Public Library, Choteau, MT; Carpenter Memorial Library, Cle Elum,WA; Lane County Library, Dighton, KS; Osborne Public Library, KS; Rochester Public Library, PA; and Rocky Ford Public Library, CO.

Among libraries spending $10,000–$49,999, there are nine new Star Libraries. Boyden Public Library, IA, is the lone new five-Star library. Buhler Public Library, KS, and Villisca Public Library, IA, are new four-Star libraries. New three-Star libraries are Lewiston Public Library, UT; Lubec Memorial Library, ME; Mound City Public Library, MO; Ragland Public Library, AL; Tri-Valley Community Library, Healy, AK; and Wedsworth Memorial Library, Cascade, MT.

 

MEAN AND STANDARD DEVIATIONS (SD) OF LJ INDEX STATISTICS BY EXPENDITURE CATEGORY, 2018 (BASED ON FY16 DATA)

PER CAPITA
SERVICE OUTPUT

EXPENDITURE
CATEGORY

LIBRARY
VISITS

TOTAL
CIRCULATION

CIRCULATION OF
ELECTRONIC
MATERIALS

TOTAL
PROGRAM
ATTENDANCE

PUBLIC
INTERNET
COMPUTER USE

 

 

MEAN

SD

MEAN

SD

MEAN

SD

MEAN

SD

MEAN

S.D

$30M+

4.88

1.76

9.90

6.07

1.25

0.90

0.37

0.19

1.01

0.50

$10M–$29.9M

5.21

2.71

10.08

6.80

1.17

2.19

0.41

0.27

1.08

0.64

$5M–$9.9M

6.09

4.22

11.11

8.24

0.93

0.95

0.53

0.45

1.19

1.42

$1M–$4.9M

6.22

4.97

9.45

7.80

0.74

1.41

0.60

0.78

1.04

0.98

$400K–$999.9K

6.72

6.37

8.49

7.20

0.63

1.15

0.66

0.75

1.12

1.29

$200K–$399.9K

5.85

4.95

7.36

6.41

0.50

0.71

0.61

0.67

1.14

1.63

$100K–$199.9K

5.73

5.24

7.19

6.13

0.44

0.55

0.62

0.75

1.22

1.68

$50K–$99.9K

4.57

3.71

6.02

5.26

0.37

0.55

0.55

0.74

1.03

1.14

$10K–$49.9K

3.15

2.79

4.02

3.54

0.26

0.64

0.4

0.73

0.88

1.18

TOTAL

5.64

5.05

7.65

6.76

0.55

1.01

0.58

0.73

1.09

1.33

KEY: M–Millions K–Thousands


REPEAT STARS

This year, Star status is retained by 198 of 2017’s Star libraries. Some 133 libraries retained the same Star status they had in 2017: there are 61 continuing five-Star libraries, 39 libraries that maintained four-Star status, and 33 libraries that remain three-Star libraries. The remaining 65 remain Star Libraries, however, their numbers of Stars have changed.

 

MORE, FEWER, AND LOST STARS

Each year, some libraries remaining in the same expenditure categories earn additional Stars compared with the previous edition. In 2018, 65 such Star Libraries moved between the three-, four-, and five-Star ratings. Of those 65, 15 Star winners moved up from three Stars to four, 18 from four Stars to five, and two, from three Stars to five.

The only library spending $30 million or more that gained a Star between 2017 and 2018 was King County Library System, Issaquah, WA, which went from four to five Stars.

Two libraries spending $10 million–$29.9 million gained a Star this year. Salt Lake City Public Library went from four to five Stars, and Arapahoe Libraries, CO, went from three to four Stars.

This year, three libraries spending $5 million–$9.9 million gained Stars. Cerritos Public Library, CA, went from four to five Stars, and Northbrook Public Library and Saint Charles Public Library District, both IL, went from three to four Stars.

Seven libraries spending $1 million–$4.9 million gained Stars between 2017 and 2018. Bernardsville, NJ; Sanibel Public Library, FL; and West Bloomfield Township Library, MI, went from four to five Stars, and Bexley Public Library, OH; Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA; Murray Public Library, UT, and Ocean City Free Public Library, NJ, went from three to four Stars.

The only library spending $400,000–$999,999 that gained a Star between 2017 and 2018 was Leslie County Public Library, Hyden, KY, which went from four to five Stars.

Four libraries spending $200,000–$399,999 gained Stars this year. Libraries moving from four to five Stars are Central City Public Library, NE; Fairport Harbor Public Library, OH; and Richland Community Library, MI. In addition, Petersburg Public Library, AK, went from three to four Stars.

For 2018, two libraries spending $100,000–$199,999 went from four to five Stars: Falconer Public Library, NY, and Quartzite Public Library, AZ.

This year, nine libraries spending $50,000–$99,999 gained Stars. Dr. Grace O. Doane Public Library, Alden, IA,  achieved the distinction of moving from three to five Stars. Libraries that went from four to five Stars include Cambridge Public Library, NY; Hubbard Public Library, IA; Marion City Library; KS; North Freedom Public Library, WI; and Wellsburg Public Library, IA. Libraries that moved from three to four Stars include Baden Memorial Library, PA; Hazel L. Meyer Memorial Library, Desmet, SD; and Upton County Public Library, McCamey, TX.

Five libraries spending $10,000–$49,999 gained Stars over last year. The lone library that jumped from three to five Stars was Vernice Stoudenmire Library, Wilsonville, AL. The only library moving from four to five Stars was Lemmon Public Library, SD. The remaining three libraries—those moving from three to four Stars—are Elk Horn Public Library, IA; Hughes Springs Area Public Library, TX; and Loxley Public Library, AL.

Other libraries lost Stars between the 2017 and 2018 editions. Without changing expenditure categories, 13 went from five to four Stars and 14 went from four to three Stars. Three libraries dropped from five Stars to three.

PUBLIC LIBRARIES ELIGIBLE FOR THE LJ INDEX AND REPEAT AND NEW STAR LIBRARIES, 2009–18 (BASED ON FY06–16 IMLS DATA)

EXPENDITURE CATEGORY NUMBER OF LIBRARIES

NOVEMBER 2018 (2016 DATA)

DECEMBER 2017 (2015 DATA) NOVEMBER 2016 (2014 DATA) NOVEMBER 2015 (2013 DATA) NOVEMBER 2014 (2012 DATA) NOVEMBER 2013 (2011 DATA) NOVEMBER 2012 (2010 DATA) NOVEMBER 2011 (2009 DATA) OCTOBER 2010 (2008 DATA) NOVEMBER 2009 (2007 DATA) FEBRUARY 2009 (2006 DATA)
$30M + 54 49 49 51 47 46 44 48 45 36 31
$10M–$29.9M 127 116 107 112 113 112 114 107 106 98 88
$5M–$9.9M 220 219 222 209 209 198 191 211 186 176 159
$1M–$4.9M 1,445 1,436 1,401 1,397 1,381 1,367 1,349 1,307 1,282 1,209 1,125
$400K–$999.9K 1,451 1,443 1,414 1,446 1,394 1,395 1,373 1,377 1,333 1,278 1,247
$200K–$399.9K 1,169 1,186 1,171 1,209 1,208 1,174 1,170 1,129 1,087 1,113 1,089
$100K–$199.9K 1,204 1,212 1,180 1,257 1,237 1,251 1,258 1,236 1,204 1,191 1,173
$50K–$99.9K 1,011 1,002 1,055 1,088 1,122 1,111 1,126 1,145 1,128 1,152 1,115
$10K–$49.9K 680 746 750 894 875 919 945 953 1,036 1,015 1,088
Total Libraries Rated 7,361 7,409 7,349 7,663 7,586 7,573 7,570 7,513 7,407 7,268 7,115
Repeat Stars (from prior year) 198 205 199 207 198 196 203 195 195 208 N/A
New Stars (not starred prior year) 59 54 61 54 60 67 59 67 63 50 N/A
TOTAL STARS 257 259 260 261 258 263 262 262 258 258 N/A

KEY: M–Millions K–Thousands

CHANGING CONSTELLATIONS

Between 2017 and 2018, 14 libraries moved from one expenditure category to another while retaining Star library status. Of these, ten libraries retained Star library status despite moving from a lower to a higher expenditure category and, in two cases, the reverse.

Two libraries gained Stars while moving down one expenditure category. Moving from $400,000–$999,999 to $200,000–$399,999, Richland Community Library, MI, went from four to five Stars. Moving from $100,000–$199,999 to $50,000–$99,999, Dr. Grace O. Doane Public library, Alden, IA, jumped from three to four Stars.

Three libraries retained their five-Star status while changing expenditure categories. Two libraries remained Star Libraries while moving up one expenditure category: Truro Public Library, North Truro, MA, moved up from $200,000–$399,999 to $400,000–$999,999, and Hartington Public Library, NE, moved up from $50,000–$99,999 to $100,000–$199,999. Five-Star status was held by Julia Butterfield Memorial Library, Cold Spring, NY, while moving down one expenditure category from $400,000–$999,999 to $200,000–$399,999.

Six libraries earned fewer Stars but retained Star status despite moving up one expenditure category. Two libraries moved from $100,000–$199,999: Rock Creek Public Library, OH, going from five to four Stars, and Gentry County Library, Stanberry, MO, going from four to three Stars. Three libraries moved from $50,000–$99,999 to $100,000–$199,999: Powers Library Association, Moravia, NY, going from five to four Stars; Huachuca City Public Library, AZ, going from five to three Stars; and ­Springlake-Earth Community Library, TX, also going from five to three Stars. One library, Lincoln Public Library, NH, jumped from $10,000–$49,999 to $100,000–$199,999, going from five to four Stars. It is an achievement to maintain Star status when moving up from one expenditure category to another—a change that usually dramatically increases the challenges to earning Star status. Overall, we saw a surprising drop of 48 libraries from 2017 to 2018, owing to a dramatic decline in one state in reporting of library visits, an anomaly that we cannot explain.

To Access STAR Libraries 2018 Home page - click here


Keith Curry Lance (keithlance@comcast.net) is an independent consultant based in Boulder, Colorado. He also consults with the Colorado-based RSL Research Group. In both capacities, he conducts research on libraries of all types for state library agencies, state library associations, and other library-related organizations. For more information, visit www.KeithCurryLance.com.

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