Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Alaska's best-loved libraries

The Library Journal, which is the industry publication for us library folk, recently came out with the rankings of the 'best' libraries in the country. This idea - what makes one library better than another - is pretty subjective, so the editors at LJ did their comparison using 4 statistical measures:
  • Per capita circulation (number of items per person, per year, based on population)
  • Per capita visits (measured by the number of people walking through the door)
  • Per capita program attendance (story times, slide shows, author visits, meetings, etc.)
  • Per capita Internet use (pretty self-explanatory)
The bottom line is that the library that manages to provide services to the greatest percentage of people in the community could arguably be called the best and most loved library.
The winner for Alaska?...
The Delta Community Library in Delta Junction is considered a "5 Star Library", with a score of 2648. The Haines Borough library came in a close second with a score of 2550. Unalaska and Seward were both 4-star libraries, and Petersburg and Soldotna were 3-star libraries.
These libraries obviously play a pivotal role in their community and serve as a gathering place and information hub for their patrons. (There are many small towns and villages in this state that were not included in the LJ study, simply because their budget is less than $10,000 a year. Run on a shoestring and staffed with dedicated volunteers, these tiny libraries are still essential for their communities).
Where did Ketchikan fall? We are #15 of 32 Alaskan libraries, with a score of 761. We do well with circulation, visits and program attendance, but we are a total washout with per capita Internet use - most likely because we only have 6 computers for a population of 13,000 people. But with a new building....

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