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POB Library Receives 5 Stars Once Again

Library receives fourth consecutive five-star designation

For the fourth year, the magazine Library Journal— the primary trade publication for libraries in the United States— recently conducted their annual survey of “star” libraries. This year, they surveyed 7,513 public libraries and identified 262 “stars,” or libraries that received three or more stars in the rankings. This is the fourth time the index, created by Ray Lyons and Keith Curry Lance, has awarded the Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library a five-star rating since the start of the program in 2008.

The rankings are based on four per capita statistics: library visits, circulation, program attendance, and public Internet computer use; all statistics are weighted equally. The libraries are also divided by expenditure, with Plainview-Old Bethpage situated in the five-to-ten million category. The 2011 survey is based on Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) data from 2009.

Last year, Plainview-Old Bethpage shared the five-star distinction with one other library in Nassau County, Port Washington Public Library. However, this year, Plainview-Old Bethpage is not only the only five-star library within its budget category in Nassau, but in the state of New York.

Library director Gretchen Browne said that one of the reasons why her library continues to excel in the ratings is because Plainview-Old Bethpage has put a greater emphasis on e-books.

“The circulation of print books has fallen aside…people in many communities are using their library less because everything can be done on the computer,” said Browne. “It really is a whole new ballgame, and libraries are scrambling to see how they can keep their clientele, and keep their clientele happy.”

However, Browne reassures that there’s no danger of the print collection going away any time soon; in fact, the library is taking steps to make traditional book check-out more convenient for patrons, including a new program to make books available for check-out at story time workshops. Now, parents can check out books for their children without having to go to the circulation desk after the workshop, a program that hadn’t begun in 2009 when the survey data was collected, but one Browne is confident will help the library keep circulation up going forward.

The director continued that the library’s willingness to listen to patron suggestions on all manner of topics, cooperation with local schools and clubs, flexibility and popular program offerings all help keep Plainview-Old Bethpage at the top.

“It’s about being flexible enough to allow for new opportunities, and having the foresight to order what people want to read,” said Browne.

Two other Nassau County libraries made the list, Port Washington Public Library (four stars, down from five last year) and Bryant Library in Roslyn (three stars.) In Suffolk County, seven libraries made the list, including four five-star libraries, although none share the five-to-ten million budget category with Plainview-Old Bethpage.

Last year, New York came in second to Ohio in total amount of “star” libraries in the survey, with 35 and 36, respectively. However, this year New York pulled ahead with 39 stars, while Ohio has 37; none of the other states approach the two leaders, with Kansas and Illinois tying for third place with 18 star libraries each.

For more information about the survey, visit the Library Journal website at www.libraryjournal.com. In other library news, expect to see a relaunched Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library website, with a new design and some new features, soon.