Message to the community from Luren E. Dickinson:
How does Shaker Library measure up? We usually compare our library to its past historical statistics. For example, if we circulated a certain number of items this year, how does that compare to last year or the year before? As formats have evolved from physical to virtual, tracking our progress has become more challenging.
We also use comparisons with other libraries of similar size. Libraries compare collection size and usage counts, such as circulation or attendance. Perhaps the first nationally known set of comparative rankings for public libraries was produced by Thomas Hennen more than a decade ago. His American Public Library Ratings rated libraries based upon fifteen input and output measures collected by the federal government.
Hennen grouped the highest rated libraries by range of population served, creating Top 10 lists for each. Nicknamed HAPLR, these rankings became well known and many times included Shaker Library as a Top 10 member in the 25,000 to 50,000 population served category. Because Mr. Hennen no longer does the rankings, 2010 was the last year we appeared on the list. <p>
A few years ago, Library Journal began publishing a different comparative measure of public libraries, called the LJ Index. It was designed by Ray Lyons and Neal Kaske to improve upon HAPLR and uses four per capita measures to rate libraries grouped by annual expenditures. Top libraries at each expenditure level were given 3-Star, 4-Star, or 5-Star designations.
Both the HAPLR and the LJ Index have shortcomings. The HAPLR tends to favor highly funded libraries, whereas the LJ Index yields higher ratings for libraries serving smaller populations. A combination of the two different rankings, however, places Shaker Library in a very good light.
Under the 2010 HAPLR rankings, Shaker Library ranks ninth in the nation for all libraries serving a population the size of our district or larger. Using the same measure, we are tenth in the 2012 LJ Index. Discounting population and based only on budget, Shaker Library was the 37th highest in the LJ Index among all libraries in the nation with a budget of $1 million or more based upon 2010 statistics. <p>
We received the highest designation as a 5-Star Library in the LJ Index for four consecutive years, but we know in the end that rating systems can be arbitrary. The bottom line is that Shaker Library is consistently ranked as one of America's busiest and best library systems. This demonstrates that—any way you measure it—Shaker Library ranks at the top of its peer groups!
We thank the community for our success because of its consistently high use of the library and because of sustained local funding. We are also appreciative of the support from Friends of the Shaker Library, which helps put us a notch above the rest. As we approach the end of the year, I ask you to consider joining our Friends group (Pick up a membership form at the checkout desk or download one at www.shakerlibrary.org/doc/FriendsMembership.pdf, complete it and return it to either library.) Or you can make a donation to the Library’s Endowment Fund at www.shakerlibrary.org/Donations). Your contribution will help keep Shaker Library at the top of the list!