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Local libraries rated in recent national index

The recently released Hennen’s American Public Library Ratings shows Pennsylvania ranked 40th in the nation. The state score is 424 out of a possible 1,000 points.
Local libraries rank both substantially above and below the state figures. The Bellwood-Antis Public Library had a score of 519, while the Tyrone-Snyder Township Public Library score was 329. The higher the number, the better the score.
Thomas J. Hennen Jr., director of the Waukesa County Federated Library System, created the system several years ago using statistics librarians provide to the federal government.
Prior to the creation of this system, there had been no national ranking system.
Hennen grades all libraries on criteria such as staffing, circulation and collections and then separates them into population categories and rates them based on size.
The HAPLR Index includes 15 factors. The focus is on circulation, staffing, materials, reference service, and funding levels. The Index does not include data on audio and video collections, or interlibrary loan, among other items.
Some critics say the lack of data regarding outreach programs, electronic use and sophisticated reference services make the system flawed.
“Statistics alone cannot define library excellence, of course, but the ratings numbers are important,” according to Hennen.
“The effects of the recession that began in 2001 have still not shown up in this year’s ratings data,” notes Hennen.
“Circulation in most libraries in the U.S. is at an all time high since the recession began. But there is a lag in the reporting of the usage numbers and an even greater lag in the funding levels for libraries,” observes Hennen.
“Local and state governments tend to cut funding to libraries when their own revenues are pinched by economic conditions. This usually happens well after the recession has begun. News reports throughout the past year have indicated that state and local funding for libraries will be reduced for 2004.
But those reductions will not show up in the reported data and the HAPLR Ratings for some time to come,” notes Hennen.
According to a news release posted on its website, Hennen’s American Public Library Ratings System, HAPLR ™, attempts to identify the public libraries in America with the highest input and output measures.
The HAPLR Index uses six input and nine output measures. The author added the scores for each library within a population category to develop a weighted score. The population categories change at 1,000, 2,500, 5,000, 10,000, 25,000, 50,000, 100,000, 250,000, and 500,000.
The HAPLR Index is similar to an ACT or SAT score with a theoretical minimum of 1 and a maximum of 1,000, although most libraries score between 260 and 730.
The site which can be found at www.haplr-index.com, provides a method for obtaining score cards and rating sheets for individual public libraries.
It also provides further information on the rating index and other services provided by Hennen.