GUILFORD., Maine — This is the second year the Guilford Memorial Library has received a four-star rating from the Library Journal, the trade journal for libraries, and it comes as no surprise to residents.
In addition to the Guilford library, public libraries in Camden, Rockland and Blue Hill also received four-star ratings in their expenditure category.
“I’m sure a lot of it has to do with the staff; they’re all very helpful,” Heidi Dow, of Guilford, said of the Guilford library’s rating. Dow, who along with her three children uses the library frequently, said the library offers a lot of different programs. “My kids just enjoy it; we go once or twice a week,” she said. “It’s a great place.”
Across the nation 7,268 libraries were included in the survey that produced either a five-, four- or three-star rating, according to Rebecca Miller, the Library Journal’s executive editor. The Guilford, Camden, Rockland and Blue Hill libraries were the only libraries in the state to have secured a star rating, she said.
“It’s quite challenging to get one,” Miller said of the star ratings. First, each library that submits data to the federal government is grouped according to expenditures. “We basically organize them so they have a sense of a peer group to compare to.”
In the survey, the Guilford library was considered in the $50,000 to $99,999 range, the Blue Hill library was in the $200,000 to $399,999 range, and the Camden and Rockland libraries were in the $400,000 to $999,999 range.
The expenditure range for the survey extended from small libraries with budgets of $10,000 to $49,999 to large libraries with budgets of $30 million-plus, according to Miller.
The Library Journal taps into the national data submitted by each of the libraries in the United States, and this year’s star rating was based on 2007 data. Basically, Miller said, the libraries have to meet a series of criteria.
“The numbers that we crunch are basically per capita numbers,” she said. “We look at per capita circulation, per capita visits, per capita program attendance and per capita public Internet terminal usage.” These criteria help define the libraries’ crucial role in their communities, she said. The size of the library also is considered.
There were 30 libraries across the nation in the same expenditure range as the Guilford library that received stars, and of those, 10 received four stars, according to Miller. “Their peer group is over 1,152 libraries strong, so they are in the top 30 of that,” she said.
Linda Packard, Guilford librarian, was extremely pleased that the library was recognized for the second consecutive year by the leading journal for libraries. She said the library’s success has been the helpful staff and great support from the community.
“We have a really great staff here because I don’t do this alone,” Packard said Saturday. “We have a cooperative board and we’ve got a great town that supports us, and all three of those things make a difference.”