Library Journal magazine designed the rating system, called the LJ Index of Public Library Service, with an emphasis on library performance. The ratings grouped libraries by budget size and looked at four outputs that reflect public service: checkouts per capita, visits per capita, program attendance per capita and public Internet uses per capita. The top libraries in each budget category were assigned 3- to 5-star ratings, in the spirit of the Michelin travel guides.
Ratings were announced in February and were based on the most recent data available, which dates from 2006. Champaign Library Director Marsha Grove was pleased with the rating, but noted that it was based on usage before the city’s new library opened in 2008. “Since 2006, we’ve seen tremendous growth in the areas the rating is based on, with the number of checkouts up more than 36 percent so far this fiscal year,” Grove said. “It will be interesting to see how we look in two years, when current usage is taken into account.”
Champaign‘s budget category, with operating expenses between $5 million and $9.9 million, included 159 libraries. Thirty of those received star ratings, 10 at each level. Champaign ranked first in the 3-star group. Only 4 other Illinois libraries in this budget category earned stars, including Skokie with 4 stars and 3-star peers Barrington, Fountaindale and Des Plaines.
Read more in Library Journal
March 4, 2009