Fayette library earns national award 3.11.09

Written by David Green.

Fayette’s Normal Memorial Library gained a star after its name—three stars, to be exact.

In a new index of library “service output”—patron visits, circulation, program attendance and public internet use—Fayette earned a three-star rating in the Library Journal’s Star Library program.

Thirty libraries in each of nine sizes, based on operating expenditures, were honored with either five-, four- or three-star ratings, based on total points awarded.

Normal Memorial stands at number two among the three-star facilities in the $100,000 to $199,999 expenditure range.

Data submitted from 2006 is evaluated on a per-capita basis. For example, the total number of library visits in a year divided by the number of people served gives. For Fayette, the journal index views that Fayette as an average of 16 library visits a year for a typical patron.

In reality, many patrons visit more often and some residents don’t come in at all, but the index provides an indication of library usage.

Similarly, Fayette has a rating of 22 library materials borrowed every year per capita. An average user attends one special program a year and uses the library’s internet services seven times a year.

Developers of the index point out that it is a rating system, not a ranking system. Many important factors such as collection quality, library accessibility and convenience, quality of programs and customer satisfaction are not included.

Instead, the four service outputs can be considered “prerequisites” for library quality and value.

“A library that excels on the Index is very likely to be headed in the direction of high service quality and excellence,” wrote the authors of a Library Journal article. “We offer the Index to help paint part of a picture of overall library performance. The ratings should be one among several sources of information indicating your library’s performance in your community.”

The authors note the abundance of Ohio libraries on the star list—a total of 31, second only to New York—and point out that Ohio is the only state with dedicated state-wide funding. In other states, libraries are often battling other agencies for funds.

Ohio’s funding plan should translate into more materials, more open hours, more programs, etc., and the results of the Index point to that outcome.

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