Congratulations to the 10 Colorado libraries that were named Star Libraries by the 2014 Library Journal Index of Public Library Service! Out of all the states included in the report, Colorado was one of only 9 where 10 or more libraries were named Star Libraries. The 10 star libraries are:
- Douglas County
- La Junta
- San Miguel/Telluride
Star Libraries are determined based on output data, which is one of three major types of data that libraries can collect (the other types are inputs and outcomes). Output measures used to calculate the Star Libraries Index are circulation, visits, program attendance, and internet use. These measurements are valuable in determining the volume of various services that a library produces. It is possible that new outputs will be included in the Star Libraries index soon: In 2015, public libraries will begin reporting e-circulation as part of the annual Public Library Survey, and in 2016, data about Wi-Fi access usage.
While output data is required for libraries to collect and provides worthwhile information about how much of a variety of services is being provided, an entirely different, voluntary type of data called outcomes is essential in gaining a better picture of the long-range effectiveness of public library services. Outcome data, as opposed to output data, measures the impact of changes experienced by users as a result of library services, rather than just the sheer number of services produced by the library. Outcomes measure impacts such as knowledge gained or developments in overall attitude, status, or condition. While outcomes can be difficult to quantify because the data largely relies on self-reported surveys from library patrons, outcomes are important because they help to more accurately gauge the library’s economic, social, and cultural import to individuals and the community as a whole. Want to know more about outcomes? This year’s Star Libraries article contains a nice overview on outcomes and how they differ from outputs.
If you want to learn more about how to design compelling evaluations that can demonstrate the value of your library in the community, consider attending the Research Institute for Public Libraries (RIPL) on July 27-30, 2015 in Colorado Springs to learn how effective input, output, and outcome data can do just that.
If you work in a Colorado public library or are a Colorado-based MLIS student interested in working in a public library, the Colorado State Library is offering up to 15 full scholarships to RIPL! Find more information and apply here. Hurry! Scholarship applications are due by 5 PM on Friday, November 14, 2014. Otherwise, enrollment opens on January 5, 2015.
Note: This post is part of our series, “The Weekly Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.