Written by Karen Gellender Friday, 19 November 2010 00:00
The magazine Library Journal, the primary trade publication for libraries in the United States, recently conducted their annual survey of “star” libraries. This year, they surveyed 7,407 public libraries and identified 258 “stars,” or libraries that received three or more stars in the rankings. This is the third time the index, created by Ray Lyons and Keith Curry Lance, has awarded the Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library a five-star rating since the start of the program in 2008; in other words, the Plainview-Old Bethpage library has received five stars from the survey since its inception.
The rankings are based on four per capita statistics: library visits, circulation, program attendance, and public internet computer use; all statistics are weighted equally. The libraries are also divided by expenditure, with Plainview-Old Bethpage situated in the five-to-ten million category. The 2010 survey is based on Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) data from 2008.
While pleased with the recognition for her library, library director Gretchen Browne speculated that the high numbers in circulation and program attendance that Plainview-Old Bethpage has been producing lately are in all likelihood tied to the state of the economy.
“In an era when people economically maybe are not going into the city, or traveling, or doing things like that, they’re coming to their neighborhood public library, and they’re using it to its full extent,” said Browne. While noting that the library has always been busy, often serving in the place of a dedicated community center for the area, she said that she did not think the library was overcrowded, either.
While nearby Jericho Public Library did receive a three-star rating from Library Journal in 2009, it did not make the list this time around. Syosset Public Library, which was undergoing major renovations during the first round of data collection for the survey in 2006, has yet to make the list. However, omission from the list is not a statement on overall library quality; Lyons and Lance have been clear in Library Journal about the limitations of the index. “By definition, service outputs don’t measure quality, value, excellence, or relevance of services to the community,” reads the “LJ Index Basics” on the Library Journal website.
Nationally, New York came in second only to Ohio in the total amount of “star” libraries in the survey, with 35 and 36, respectively. The only other Nassau County libraries to make the list were Port Washington Public Library (five stars), and Great Neck Library (three stars), both of which are in the same budget category as Plainview-Old Bethpage.
For more information about the survey, visit the Library Journal website at www.libraryjournal.com.