For the eighth year in a row, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library system has received the highest possible rating in Library Journal’s 2016 Index of Public Library Service. The five-star rating is given to the top U.S. libraries each year.
Heights Libraries has earned five stars in eight out of the nine years that Library Journal has published the rating. Library Journal is a trade journal that reports news about the library world, emphasizing public libraries, and has a nation-wide circulation of 100,000.
Libraries are categorized by yearly expenditure and rated on five criteria: circulation, visits, program attendance, Internet terminal use (public computers), and, new this year, eCirc (eMedia like eBooks). Heights Libraries circulation came in at 30.75 per capita in our service area, meaning that roughly 31 items were circulated for every resident in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights service area. Visits per capita averaged 18, program attendance averaged 1.21 (down a bit from 1.3 in 2015), and public computer use rose slightly from 5 per capita in 2015 to 5.03 in 2016. The rate for eCirc was 5.03 per capita.
“To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of the death of the public library has been an exaggeration,” says Heights Libraries Director Nancy Levin, smiling. “Every few years or so, the question of the relevancy of libraries in the digital age is raised. But these numbers make it clear that our community continues to want and to need our services. Our customers range from retirees and teens attending cultural programs, to new parents visiting our early literacy play areas, to low-income customers using our computers to apply for government benefits or jobs.”
Levin continued, “This continual need is the reason we decided to upgrade and expand our University Heights branch this year. All of our buildings are heavily used by customers of all ages, and they deserve a library that will continue to give five-star service.”
Heights Libraries wasn’t the only Cuyahoga County area library to receive a five-star award; other libraries to win are Cleveland Public (5 stars), Cuyahoga County (5 stars), and Lakewood (5 stars).
The entire State of Ohio did well in general, compared to the rest of the nation: Ohio was second only to New York State in terms of the number of libraries that received star ratings, 25 vs. 35, respectively.
The entire report on America’s star libraries can be found at Library Journal’s website, lj.libraryjournal.com.