Message to the community from Luren E. Dickinson: |
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)
Perhaps the most common response Shaker Library employees receive from community members, when we meet them for the first time and they discover we work at the library, is “I love the library!” Whatever the variation, no one connected with the library tires of hearing it.
Recently, Shaker Library learned it was rated the “Best Library” on the Eastside of Cleveland (by clevelandeastmacaronikid.com)—right in there with the best bowling alley, the best candy store, and the best pizza! As they say in the commercial, it doesn’t get any better than that.
But this was a subjective rating based upon the number of votes collected in one particular survey. Those submitting entries could only choose from what is available on Cleveland’s Eastside. What about the rest of the county, the state and the country?
This time of year it is common to see such lists, even ones ranking libraries. Some are better than others, but they all have their flaws (as was noted here at length just last December). Digging deeper into the available statistics collected from public libraries across the country by the federal government, it is possible to come up with some more objective measures.
In examining the figures from 2011 (the latest complete set), we came up with some numbers that show how well “loved” Shaker Library really is. Using the data from more than 7,500 public libraries in the United States, and comparing Shaker Library’s per capita statistics to all communities our size and larger, the results were gratifying.
Looking at four measurements: Circulation (or items checked out by the public), Visits, Program Attendance, and Computer Use, Shaker Library had arguably the best results in the County, among libraries with budgets of more than $1 million and with service areas our size and larger, outscoring Cuyahoga County Public Library and Euclid Public Library in each category. Shaker also outranked Cleveland in all but one category and was an equal match with Cleveland Heights, Lakewood, and Westlake.
The comparison in the state of Ohio is just as dramatic. Only three libraries had a higher per capita circulation or a higher visitation rate than Shaker Library. And just five libraries had higher program attendance and use of computers per capita! The following chart shows the rankings in each category within the county, state, and nation.