Library Journal has has named 261 libraries “Star Libraries” in its eighth 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, based on data recently released by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for FY13.
Star Libraries demonstrate what exemplary library programs can look like. While Wyoming has many outstanding libraries, none was named a Star Library this year. Still, there are valuable tools to be found for finding peer libraries and making comparisons at lj.libraryjournal.com/2015/11/managing-libraries/lj-index/class-of-2015/find-your-library-2015. Some questions for directors and boards to consider when evaluating themselves in comparison with other libraries:
- How are your services, staff, facilities, and users different from a peer library?
- What might your library be doing differently from another library that helps to explain statistical differences?
- Does your library count outputs differently than a peer library? As a result, just how comparable are the figures on a particular statistic?
It is important to remember that statistics do not always tell the full story. That said they do serve several useful purposes in addition to comparison. They give some quantifiable idea of how busy the library is, and of the status of your collections, budget and staffing. They show trends over time. They provide data that can be used in advocacy.
The Wyoming State Library maintains a page of library and community statistics at will.state.wy.us/statistics. For questions on statistics, contact Thomas Ivie, WSL research and statistics librarian, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-777-6330.