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HAPLR 2009: Tenth Anniversary Edition

Thomas J. Hennen Jr.

June 2009

Summary

We celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Hennen’s American Public Library Ratings (HAPLR) this year.  In 10 years HAPLR has become widely recognized in the public library world with both praise and criticism, of course.  As is to be expected, the rating system has critics as well as fans.  We are proud of HAPLR and what it has done for libraries in the nation.  We look forward to many more years of ranking, assessing, and providing report cards for libraries in the U.S.  I will continue to refine HAPLR based on the advice of both fans and critics. 

In this article I begin by making some overall observations about the past 10 years in bulleted points.  I note the introduction of the LJ Index and compare it to HAPLR.  I consider issues for rating systems such as electronic use measures that can be included in ratings.  I also note the problems with population assignments as well as library spending categories and their impact on HAPLR and the LJ Index.  I provide an overview at the national level over to consider where libraries have changed overall.  I discuss the book Hennen’s Public Library Planner and its relationship to a HAPLR-inspired method of strategic library planning.  Finally, I provide some of the major criticisms and praises that have been leveled at HAPLR ratings over the past 10 years.

I must add that it has taken me 10 years to realize the level of courage that American Libraries Editor Leonard Kniffel demonstrated when he published HAPLR ratings for the first time in 1999.  Kniffel publishes for American Libraries, the official publication of the American Library Association Upon publication and repeatedly over the years, he and American Libraries were criticized because publication appeared to imply endorsement of the ratings even though he repeatedly noted that this was not the case. 

HAPLR scores are compared to their LJ Index counterparts here

Directory for the rest of this page:

Observations About past 10 years

National Comparisons over 10 Years

States with Top Ten Libraries in each Edition

Top 10 Libraries in Each Category for 2009

Hennen’s Public Library Planner

HAPLR Reports

Criticism

LJ Index

Electronic Use

Population Issues

Spending Categories

HAPLR Index

Praise

 

National Observations about the past 10 Years

 Over the past ten years:

  • Critics of the HAPLR system had a lot to say.  So did fans.
     

  • Hundreds of newspapers, radio stations, and television stations have covered HAPLR ratings for libraries throughout the country.

  • Thousands of libraries have purchased HAPLR reports on their libraries, reports that compare a library to comparably sized libraries in the state and nation. 

  • Many thousands of libraries have used the HAPLR website to make quick comparisons on library data.

Also over the past ten years:

  • A total of 39 states had at least one top ten library. 

  • A quarter of all top 10 libraries were in Ohio;

  • Another quarter were in New York, Indiana, Illinois and Minnesota

Considering the overall data for libraries over the past 10 years:

  • Almost 23,000 more library staff were employed in libraries (almost a 20% change)

  • Total spending per capita rose $11 to $38 per capita, while materials spending per capita rose 33% to $4.32 per capita

  • Circulation per capita rose 14% while visits rose 22%

 

Comparison Data for Past Editions

The table below compares the HAPLR rating data for the 1999 edition to that of the 2008 and 2009 editions. 

Data

1999 Edition

2008 Edition

2009 Edition

From 2008 Edition

10 Year Average

Number of Libraries

                  8,752

                 9,076

                  9,080

0.0%

0.4%

Population served

       259,463,453

      285,579,896

       291,302,705

2.0%

1.2%

Staff (Full time equivalent)

              117,741

             136,014

              140,438

3.3%

1.9%

Collection Expenditure

$840,956,250

$1,142,839,506

$1,259,636,602

10.2%

5.0%

Total Expenditure

$5,551,991,409

$8,632,693,011

$9,578,451,862

11.0%

7.3%

Book Volumes

       709,424,788

      803,013,857

       805,008,471

0.2%

1.3%

Periodical Subscriptions

           1,854,165

          1,820,422

           1,832,775

0.7%

-0.1%

Hours Open

         33,098,377

        35,915,538

         36,181,122

0.7%

0.9%

Visits

    1,012,614,319

   1,320,647,162

    1,381,561,074

4.6%

3.6%

Reference

       284,416,840

      303,914,504

       294,442,201

-3.1%

0.4%

Circulation

    1,641,514,552

   2,008,090,565

    2,098,751,934

4.5%

2.8%

Expenditure per capita

$21.40

$30.23

$32.88

8.8%

5.4%

Percent Budget to materials

15.1%

13.2%

13.2%

-0.7%

-1.3%

 Materials Expenditure Per capita

$3.24

$4.00

$4.32

8.1%

3.3%

FTE staff per 1000 population

                    0.45

                   0.48

                    0.48

1.2%

0.6%

Periodicals per 1000 population

                    7.15

                   6.37

                    6.29

-1.3%

-1.2%

Book Volumes per Capita

                    2.73

                   2.81

                    2.76

-1.7%

0.1%

Operating Expenditure per circulation

$3.38

$4.30

$4.56

6.2%

3.5%

Visits per capita

                    3.90

                   4.62

                    4.74

2.6%

2.2%

Book Collection turnover

                    2.31

                   2.50

                    2.61

4.3%

1.3%

Circulation per FTE Staff Hour

                    6.70

                   7.10

                    7.18

1.2%

0.7%

Circulation per Capita

                    6.33

                   7.03

                    7.20

2.5%

1.4%

Reference per capita

                    1.10

                   1.06

                    1.01

-5.0%

-0.8%

Circulation per hour

                  49.60

                 55.91

                  58.01

3.7%

1.7%

Visits per hour

                  30.59

                 36.77

                  38.18

3.8%

2.5%

Circulation per visit

                    1.62

                   1.52

                    1.52

-0.1%

-0.6%

 


 

 

States with Top Ten Libraries in each Edition

Ten states and the District of Columbia have never had a library in the top ten.  They are: AR, HI, KY, LA, MS, ND, NM, NV, OK, WY.

The remaining 39 states had libraries in the Top Ten as follows:

State

1999

2000

2001

2002

2004

2005

2006

2008

2009

Total

AK

1

 

 

2

 

 

 

1

1

5

AL

 

 

1

 

1

1

1

1

 

5

AZ

1

 

1

1

1

 

 

 

 

4

CA

3

4

3

2

1

3

3

2

2

23

CO

2

1

2

2

3

5

5

5

2

27

CT

 

1

1

2

2

3

1

2

2

14

DE

 

1

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

2

FL

 

1

1

 

 

1

 

 

 

3

GA

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

IA

6

5

4

5

4

4

4

4

2

38

ID

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

1

IL

6

8

7

7

5

6

6

7

4

56

IN

10

9

7

10

9

7

5

5

6

68

KS

2

4

5

3

4

4

4

4

4

34

MA

4

4

5

6

2

5

3

2

4

35

MD

2

1

4

3

3

3

3

2

2

23

ME

 

 

1

1

1

 

 

1

 

4

MI

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

3

4

8

MN

6

8

6

7

6

4

3

4

3

47

MO

2

3

2

1

1

1

1

1

1

13

MT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

1

NC

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

NE

 

1

1

 

2

2

2

2

6

16

NH

 

2

2

1

1

1

1

1

 

9

NJ

 

1

1

 

1

2

1

 

 

6

NY

8

14

10

9

14

12

8

5

5

85

OH

25

12

18

20

25

21

33

31

34

219

OR

2

2

2

2

2

2

2

2

2

18

PA

1

2

1

1

1

1

2

2

2

13

SC

1

1

1

1

1

1

 

 

 

6

SD

1

1

1

1

 

 

 

1

1

6

TN

 

 

 

 

 

1

2

1

 

4

TX

2

1

4

2

1

2

2

1

1

16

UT

1

 

2

2

3

3

3

3

3

20

VA

6

4

3

3

2

 

2

2

2

24

VT

1

2

 

1

 

 

 

 

1

5

WA

 

 

1

 

1

 

 

1

1

4

WI

6

4

2

2

2

3

2

3

3

27

WV

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

9

Total

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

900

Top 10 Libraries in Each Population Category for 2009 Edition

This table lists the libraries in the Top 10 for the 2009 edition.  Note that the scores and ranks are within each population category. 

Popul. Category

Library

State

 HAPLR Score

HAPLR RANK

a) 500 K

CUYAHOGA COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY                             

OH

           893

1

a) 500 K

COLUMBUS METROPOLITAN LIBRARY                              

OH

           871

2

a) 500 K

MULTNOMAH COUNTY LIBRARY                                   

OR

           839

3

a) 500 K

SALT LAKE COUNTY LIBRARY SYSTEM                            

UT

           818

4

a) 500 K

HENNEPIN COUNTY LIBRARY                                    

MN

           803

5

a) 500 K

INDIANAPOLIS-MARION COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY                   

IN

           794

6

a) 500 K

BALTIMORE COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY                            

MD

           794

7

a) 500 K

DENVER PUBLIC LIBRARY                                      

CO

           790

8

a) 500 K

KING COUNTY LIBRARY SYSTEM                                 

WA

           781

9

a) 500 K

CINCINNATI AND HAMILTON COUNTY, PL OF                      

OH

           753

10

b) 250 K

DOUGLAS COUNTY LIBRARIES                                    

CO

           893

1

b) 250 K

HOWARD COUNTY LIBRARY                                      

MD

           888

2

b) 250 K

SANTA CLARA COUNTY LIBRARY                                 

CA

           873

3

b) 250 K

SAINT CHARLES CITY-COUNTY LIBRARY DISTRICT                 

MO

           855

4

b) 250 K

MADISON PUBLIC LIBRARY                                     

WI

           801

5

b) 250 K

CENTRAL RAPPAHANNOCK REGIONAL LIBRARY                       

VA

           793

6

b) 250 K

JOHNSON COUNTY LIBRARY                                     

KS

           780

7

b) 250 K

AKRON-SUMMIT CNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY                           

OH

           775

8

b) 250 K

ALLEN COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY                                

IN

           770

9

b) 250 K

LINCOLN CITY LIBRARIES                                     

NE

           769

10

c) 100 K

NAPERVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY                                   

IL

           918

1

c) 100 K

ANN ARBOR DISTRICT LIBRARY                                 

MI

           912

2

c) 100 K

SANTA CLARA CITY LIBRARY                                   

CA

           902

3

c) 100 K

MONROE COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY                               

IN

           895

4

c) 100 K

MEDINA COUNTY DISTRICT LIBRARY                             

OH

           879

5

c) 100 K

SALT LAKE CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY                               

UT

           874

6

c) 100 K

ST JOSEPH COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY                            

IN

           870

7

c) 100 K

LOUDOUN COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY                              

VA

           855

8

c) 100 K

SCHAUMBURG TWP DISTRICT LIBRARY                            

IL

           853

9

c) 100 K

GREENE COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY                               

OH

           850

10

d) 50 K

WASHINGTON-CENTERVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY                       

OH

           935

1

d) 50 K

WORTHINGTON PUBLIC LIBRARY                                 

OH

           915

2

d) 50 K

EUCLID PUBLIC LIBRARY                                      

OH

           911

3

d) 50 K

CARMEL CLAY PUBLIC LIBRARY                                 

IN

           898

4

d) 50 K

LAKEWOOD PUBLIC LIBRARY                                    

OH

           896

5

d) 50 K

NEWTON FREE LIBRARY                                         

MA

           896

6

d) 50 K

WILLOUGHBY-EASTLAKE PUBLIC LIBRARY                         

OH

           895

7

d) 50 K

CANTON PUBLIC LIBRARY                                      

MI

           881

8

d) 50 K

GEAUGA COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY                               

OH

           879

9

d) 50 K

TROY PUBLIC LIBRARY                                        

MI

           876

10

Popul. Category

Library

State

 HAPLR Score

HAPLR RANK

e) 25 K

PORTER PUBLIC LIBRARY                                      

OH

           938

1

e) 25 K

NORTH CANTON PUBLIC LIBRARY                                

OH

           937

2

e) 25 K

ELLA M. EVERHARD PUBLIC LIBRARY                             

OH

           914

3

e) 25 K

UPPER ARLINGTON PUBLIC LIBRARY                             

OH

           913

4

e) 25 K

PLYMOUTH DISTRICT LIBRARY                                  

MI

           903

5

e) 25 K

ELMHURST PUBLIC LIBRARY                                    

IL

           897

6

e) 25 K

ST. CHARLES PUBLIC LIBRARY DISTRICT                        

IL

           890

7

e) 25 K

LAKE OSWEGO PUBLIC LIBRARY                                  

OR

           884

8

e) 25 K

MIDDLETON PUBLIC LIBRARY                                   

WI

           881

9

e) 25 K

SHAKER HEIGHTS PUBLIC LIBRARY                              

OH

           876

10

f) 10 K

TWINSBURG PUBLIC LIBRARY                                   

OH

           959

1

f) 10 K

HAYS PUBLIC LIBRARY                                        

KS

           939

2

f) 10 K

WICKLIFFE PUBLIC LIBRARY                                    

OH

           938

3

f) 10 K

ORRVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY                                    

OH

           914

4

f) 10 K

PETERS TOWNSHIP PUBLIC LIBRARY                             

PA

           911

5

f) 10 K

MADISON PUBLIC LIBRARY                                     

OH

           910

6

f) 10 K

DARIEN LIBRARY                                             

CT

           900

7

f) 10 K

AVON LAKE PUBLIC LIBRARY                                    

OH

           898

8

f) 10 K

HENRY CARTER HULL LIBRARY                                  

CT

           895

9

f) 10 K

WAY PUBLIC LIBRARY                                         

OH

           893

10

g) 5 K

COLUMBIANA PUBLIC LIBRARY                                  

OH

           953

1

g) 5 K

BRISTOL PUBLIC LIBRARY                                     

OH

           947

2

g) 5 K

BRIDGEPORT PUBLIC LIBRARY                                   

WV

           928

3

g) 5 K

GRANDVIEW HEIGHTS PUBLIC LIBRARY                           

OH

           915

4

g) 5 K

CRESTLINE PUBLIC LIBRARY                                   

OH

           910

5

g) 5 K

WRIGHT MEMORIAL PUBLIC LIBRARY                             

OH

           905

6

g) 5 K

DOVER TOWN LIBRARY                                         

MA

           904

7

g) 5 K

NEW CARLISLE PUBLIC LIBRARY                                 

OH

           899

8

g) 5 K

NEW CUMBERLAND PUBLIC LIBRARY                              

PA

           894

9

g) 5 K

KINSMAN FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY                                

OH

           882

10

h) 2.5 K

JAMES KENNEDY PUBLIC LIBRARY                               

IA

           920

1

h) 2.5 K

GRAND VALLEY PUBLIC LIBRARY                                

OH

           916

2

h) 2.5 K

MT. PLEASANT PUBLIC LIBRARY                                 

UT

           915

3

h) 2.5 K

CENTRAL CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY                                

NE

           907

4

h) 2.5 K

BELL MEMORIAL PUBLIC LIBRARY                               

IN

           906

5

h) 2.5 K

FAIRFAX COMMUNITY                                          

VT

           896

6

h) 2.5 K

PERRY PUBLIC LIBRARY                                       

OH

           888

7

h) 2.5 K

BELLEVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY                                   

WI

           883

8

h) 2.5 K

YOAKUM COUNTY/CECIL BICKLEY LIBRARY                        

TX

           880

9

h) 2.5 K

WEST TISBURY FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY                           

MA

           875

10


 

Popul. Category

Library

State

 HAPLR Score

HAPLR RANK

i) 1 K

CENTERBURG PUBLIC LIBRARY                                  

OH

           933

1

i) 1 K

SODUS FREE LIBRARY                                         

NY

           929

2

i) 1 K

EDGERTON: RUNALS MEMORIAL LIBRARY                          

MN

           900

3

i) 1 K

SENECA FREE LIBRARY                                        

KS

           894

4

i) 1 K

HAZEL L MEYER MEMORIAL LIBRARY                              

SD

           890

5

i) 1 K

NELIGH PUBLIC LIBRARY                                      

NE

           889

6

i) 1 K

MADISON VALLEY PUBLIC LIBRARY                              

MT

           883

7

i) 1 K

RANSOMVILLE FREE LIBRARY                                   

NY

           881

8

i) 1 K

CONRAD PUBLIC LIBRARY                                      

IA

           879

9

i) 1 K

MEEKINS PUBLIC LIBRARY                                      

MA

           875

10

j) 0 K

POLAND PUBLIC LIBRARY                                      

NY

           920

1

j) 0 K

PELICAN PUBLIC LIBRARY                                     

AK

           915

2

j) 0 K

HARDTNER PUBLIC LIBRARY                                    

KS

           912

3

j) 0 K

WAGNALLS MEMORIAL LIBRARY                                  

OH

           899

4

j) 0 K

BROWNS VALLEY PUBLIC LIBRARY                                

MN

           891

5

j) 0 K

NEW WOODSTOCK FREE LIBRARY                                 

NY

           881

6

j) 0 K

RAQUETTE LAKE FREE LIBRARY                                 

NY

           873

7

j) 0 K

BRUNSWICK PUBLIC LIBRARY                                   

NE

           871

8

j) 0 K

MEADOW GROVE PUBLIC LIBRARY                                

NE

           864

9

j) 0 K

TAYLOR PUBLIC LIBRARY                                       

NE

           863

10


 

HAPLR Reports and Consulting

HAPLR is much more than a rating system.  Hundreds of libraries have used report cards to evaluate how they compare to like sized communities in their own states and the nation on all 15 measures in the HAPLR ratings. 
Library directors and planners in the trenches want and need these comparisons for planning and funding purposes.  Standard Reports are four pages long and compare a given library to 5 libraries closest in population in both the state and nation.  Planners can see how their library compares to comparably sized libraries and draw their own conclusions beyond the HAPLR composite score.  Special reports, in which the library determines the peer libraries, can also be ordered.  Many libraries have other libraries that they have traditionally used for peer comparisons.  The special reports are longer and more detailed and provide more tailored information.  States and regions have also ordered special reports including all or most of the libraries in one or more states or a given region.   Library planners can also order PowerPoint presentations to illustrate the data to library boards, planning groups, and the public at large.  The sample reports page provides descriptions of the types of reports and links to samples. 

Hennen Library Consulting is also available to do individualized consulting with libraries, regional systems, and states on long range planning.  We use the principles outlined in the book Hennen's Public Library Planner.   The consulting we do emphasizes the need to compare libraries on a broad range of statistical measures but emphasizes the need to do so systematically while the long range planning methods allow libraries to pick and choose the data to use.  Unfortunately, that can result in libraries picking only the most favorable (or unfavorable) data depending on their need.  That can present an overall unrealistic picture.  We ask library planners to use systematic comparisons to arrive at their conclusions. 
 

Hennen’s Public Library Planner: A Manual and Interactive CD-ROM
Thomas J. Hennen Jr.

ISBN: 1-55570-487-5. 2004 . 8 1/2 x 11. 300 pp.  $125.

 

Library Journal called the book a "must for library planners," adding that it is "[an] excellent jargon-free planning guide...highly recommended."    You can read the preface and Chapter 1 then order it from Neal-Schuman publisher.   

The book urges library planners to make systematic use of library data in planning for their library’s future.  It is for large and small libraries alike. 

It includes coverage of key issues—budgeting, governance and administration, electronic services, collection development, technology, access and facilities, staffing and personnel.   It provides a wide range of checklists to assess everything from the library director, the integrated system, or even the meeting facilities.  Reference tables help evaluate your library’s needs for FTE staffing, collection holdings, hours of operation, material expenditures, and more.  The CD-ROM calculates many of these numbers for your particular library. 

Policy development is covered with sample mission statements and policies for Volunteers and Friends, Internet Use, Disasters, and more, for large and small libraries alike.  The step-by-step structure answers key questions of how to create a committee, how to create long-range directives, and how to communicate the results.  The numbers games of statistics, data, surveys, and even percentile comparisons are tackled in a simple manner. 

The companion, interactive CD-ROM features more than 50 checklists and “fill in the blank” forms.  This is an essential resource for charting and navigating your public library’s future.


LJ Index  Response


Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So, as the author of the HAPLR ratings, I am deeply flattered by the recent publication of the LJ Index.   Competition is a very good thing.  I am sure that having a competing rating system will lead to improvements in both systems.  What are the differences between HAPLR and the LJ Index? 

The fundamental difference is that HAPLR includes input measures while the LJ index does not.  The LJ Index looks at only one side of the library service equation.  HAPLR looks at both sides.  

To my esteemed colleagues at the LJ Index, I can only add expect brickbats from many quarters.  They will surely come.  To this I add, persevere; only by persevering can you hope to improve all public libraries by your efforts.   I have much more to say on the subject of comparing the LJ Index to HAPLR, of course.  Refer to the LJ Index Response page on my web site.

Electronic Use  

Since the first edition I have noted and lamented the problems with electronic data use in libraries.  Ever increasing amounts of library budgets are going into full text databases and other forms of electronic use, both in libraries and from library user’s homes while the resulting output measures have been wanting.  For years the state data coordinators tried valiantly to come up with definitions of library spending and outputs for electronic use.  For the most recent edition of the dataset, IMLS began reporting “Public Internet Users.”  The LJ Index seizes on this new set of data but I have chosen to wait a bit.  The data are, in my opinion, still too skewed.  When I compare the high numbers of Public Internet Users to the low numbers, they are far more disproportionate than any of the other numbers used by either HAPLR or the LJ Index.  Either the reporting libraries do not understand the questions being asked about their library’s electronic use data or there is something else wrong. 

A lot of libraries got left out of the LJ Index because they did not report electronic use sessions in 2006.  This was the first year that that the data were reported nationally in this form.  Many libraries did not report electronic use because of problems with the definition of such use.  Almost a third of the libraries in the largest (Over $30 million) and smallest ($10,000 to $49,999) spending categories were omitted because their electronic use was either omitted or imputed.  When that is rectified, 7 of the 15 libraries in the over $30 million category they will be supplanted with new LJ Index star libraries.  Cuyahoga County Library will zoom to the head of the five star class; the same place it is in HAPLR.  Toledo and Seattle will supplant 4 star libraries.  Cincinnati and King County will supplant libraries in the three-star category. 

I have chosen not to use these skewed numbers.  The LJ Index has chosen to use these numbers even though this is the first year of their publication and there appear to be great discrepancies. 

Population Issues

 Population assignment matters greatly but variably in these United States.  Each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia make different assignments based on their different conditions. When examining any public library rating system analysis it becomes clear that it’s very much about population allocations.   So it is important to speak to the vagaries of population assignment when considering rating systems. 

Ray Lyons, one of the LJ Index authors, in “Unsettling Scores” (Public Library Quarterly, Volume 26, Numbers 3-4, p. 49 – 100) notes, among other things, that HAPLR scores change when a library moves from one population category to the next. He quotes one of my articles, “Go Ahead Name Them,” American Libraries, 30(1) 72-76.


“Depending on the demographic makeup of the state, there will be differences in population assignment. So a word of caution is in order. Mileage stickers on new cars carry the disclaimer “your mileage may vary” depending on the driver and the driving conditions. Depending on the actual population in your library service area, your HAPLR index rating may vary.” 

Lyons goes on to note that I repeat the caveat in 2000 and 2002 but not since.   He adds that: “For the most part, the library community remains unaware of this considerable drawback to the HAPLR statistical scheme.”  Nevertheless, when he becomes one of the LJ Index authors, he makes scant mention of this “considerable drawback” in the LJ Index scheme!

Spending Categories and the LJ Index

The LJ Index could have stayed with the population categories that FSCS established when Lance, one of the LJ Index authors, was involved with the data at the national level. That is something they promised as recently as June of 2008.  Lance repeatedly urged me to stay with the established POPULATION categories for HAPLR.  Yet, perplexingly, the LJ Index abandons population categories long established and agreed upon in favor of new, arbitrary SPENDING categories.  Lyons, Lance, LJ, and Baker and Taylor seem not to have explained that decision.  Will they?

There are libraries with vastly different populations served.  HAPLR has been berated over the years by both LJ Index authors for not comparing “true peers.”  Yet in the LJ Index, the 87 libraries in the $10 million to $30 million category range in population size from 60,679 to 1,477,156.  That’s almost a 24 to 1 ratio.  And it gets worse: in the $1 million category the range from smallest population (2,143) to the largest population (365,685) is nearly 200 to one! 



Some Criticism

  •  Keith Curry Lance and Marti A. Cox objected in “Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics” (American Libraries, June/July 2000, p. 82–86) that the rating system is not a proper index because there are statistical flaws in the methodology. They seem to be saying that the job of comparing libraries cannot be done, so I am at fault for having tried. Somehow, uniquely among American public or private institutions, libraries, they insist, are just too varied and too local to be compared. On the other hand, they urged individuals to use the NCES Public Library Peer Comparison Tool (nces.ed.gov/surveys/libraries/publicpeer/) to do this impossible task. By 2009, Lance had come over to the rating side and helped to publish the LJ Index.  Go figure. 
     

  • Jim Sheppke in “The Trouble with Hennen” (Library Journal, Nov. 15, 1999, p. 36–37) misstated HAPLR methodology. The scoring and ranking is within each population category, not across all categories as Sheppke indicated. The comparisons and rankings in each category, from expenditure per capita to visits per hour are only to libraries of comparable size, not to all libraries. Sheppke also notes that professional judgments would severely downgrade several of the top-rated libraries in Oregon because they lack adequate building space. He failed to add that neither Oregon nor FSCS collected the data on building space necessary to add this dimension to a rating system. That situation was remedied soon thereafter,  in part because of the HAPLR ratings, when FSCS began to collect building data.  Sheppke also faulted the ratings because it is difficult to have both a high level of FTE staff per 1,000 population and a low cost per circulation. He believes the same to be true of staff per 1,000 and circulation per FTE staff hour, or materials expenditures per capita and collection turnover.  I replied: But that is the point! If you can do both, I judge that to be a good thing. It may be difficult, but so is pitching a perfect game in the World Series or winning the U.S. Open by 15 strokes. Why not find out what the libraries that manage to do the seemingly impossible are doing right?
     

Some Praise

  •  Dr. Alan Bundy, the 2001 president of the Australian Library and Information Association called for the creation of an Australasian index similar to the HAPLR Index in his address, “How Far They Have Come - How Far They Must Go: Australian Public Libraries at Century's End,” at the National Public Library Conference, Perth 14-17 November 1999. At: http://www.library.unisa.edu.au/papers/howfar.htm

 

 

  • Michael McGrorty, on March 31, 2009 noted on Publib:  “I was amused by Library Journal's editorial, "Better Than Hennen."  Regardless of the content or quality of the new LJ ratings, the piece seems a  shameful bleat born of insecurity and completely unworthy of that fine  journal.  Better than Hennen?  Not better--different.  And to be sure, much belated.  LJ certainly must have weighed its options with  extreme care to have sat on their data for all these years before coming out  with another standard.  More honest to say that they did nothing in that  line for ages, and now, when their own machinery is presented, they try a  smackdown move on the fellow whose work shamed them into activity.” 

 

 

 

 

 

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