A TABULATION OF NEW FEDERAL DATA SUPPLIES MORE EVIDENCE OF EXCELLENCE
Was the weather better before climatologists invented the wind-chill index or does it just seem that way? Does a library-rating index change the value or quality of the service provided, or, like the windchill index, does it just seem that way?
Librarianship has always lacked any commonly accepted indicators of what excellence is. Unlike a listing of top-500 corporations that reveal the success of public companies to all, the library and information services industry produces no intelligible reports that likewise inform stakeholders interested in libraries. Hennen's American Public Library Rating (HAPLR) seeks to help change that situation.
Comparisons to the first HAPLR Index
The first edition of the HAPLR Index (AL, Jan., 72-76) was based on data submitted by each state to the Federal-State Cooperative System (FSCS) for 1996. This second edition of the index is based on 1997 early-release data from FSCS as published on the World Wide Web in March. The data does not become final until publication by the U.S. Department of Education sometime later this year.
The HAPLR Index uses six input and nine output measures. The measures are calculated from the FSCS. Each factor was weighted and scored. The scores for each library, within a population category, were then added to develop a weighted score. The HAPLR Index is similar to an ACT or SAT score with a theoretical minimum of I and a maximum of 1,000. About 90% of libraries in each population group scored between 260 and 730.
Reaction to the First Edition
American Libraries published the first HAPLR Index (AL, Jan. 72-76). "Go Ahead Name Them: America's Best Public Libraries" was a first-ever attempt to rate all of America's public libraries using an index similar to those used for rating cities, colleges, and hospitals. The article received so much publicity in newspapers across the country that AL posted the entire article on its Web site for download by journalists and individuals. The HAPLR Index site at www.haplr-index.com received more than 5,000 unique visitors that retrieved tens of thousands of pages in its first three months.
The article and the index engendered more publicity than most American Libraries articles. Why the interest? It is probably because newspapers and their readers love rankings and winning. It is also because an index …