Hats off to the Morton County Library
 for their 5 Star and Number One National Ratings
and their complete devotion to their patrons!


Four Kansas libraries garner five-star ratings

Like any good librarian, Virginia Johnson enjoys doing research.

Especially last week when investigation led her to learn the Morton County Library, where she has been director for 19 years, had been awarded a five-star rating.

In Topeka last week for the Kansas Library Legislature Day, a friend told her the Elkhart library was rated in the national Library Journal.

"I knew I couldn't leave Topeka without finding out," she said.

So she headed over to the State Library of Kansas to investigate.

There it was listed along with Ida Long Goodman Memorial Library, St. John; Meade Public Library; and Hays Public Library.

While the four were the only libraries in the state achieving five-star ratings, 16 Kansas libraries made the ratings list, according to Janie Rutherford, with the State Library.

That placed Kansas at the third highest spot in the country, tied with California. Only New York and Ohio had more libraries receiving stars.

Also in The Hutchinson News coverage area, the Cimarron City Library received a four-star rating, while Plains Community Library, Ellinwood School Community Library and Marion City Library each received three stars.

According to Rutherford, the libraries were ranked using 2006 survey data collected by the State Library for the National Center for Education Statistics and processed through a new assessment tool for public libraries called the LJ Index.

The four categories used in the analysis included the number of times an average individual visited the library; the average number of items checked out by an individual; the program attendance per person; and the number of times an average individual used a library computer terminal.

"I'm very proud of the Morton County Library," Johnson said.

More than anything she attributes the five-star rating to the supportive staff, library board, county commissioners, and of course, patrons.

While use of computers brings in more people, Johnson said their library is a "social, fun place," as opposed to the old image of the stern librarian scowling at anyone speaking above a whisper.

In St. John, Christie Snyder, director of the Ida Long Goodman Memorial Library, believes its rating comes from service to the community.

"We're unique," Snyder said. "We are a community library. Mrs. Goodman, a county school superintendent, had the library built and deeded it to both the school and community. We have school kids all week long."

The community and the school benefit from the arrangement. They have a lot of access to research tools a small community wouldn't have, including many computers.

"In our community, partnership is a theme," Snyder said. "Also, the South Central Library System is very supportive helping us to be current. We recently teamed with St. John's recreation department to provide programming together."

At the Meade Public Library, the door is always swinging open with patrons passing through. Dawnon Beaver, the current director, credits former librarian Linda Kobs with its five-star rating.

"She made this place so awesome," Beaver said.

She also credits the library's partnership with the Southwest Kansas Library System in Dodge City - not only for a rotating book service but also multiple technical support and consulting services - as a big contributor to its success.

All three librarians agreed serving their communities was paramount.

"Almost every day we have fun," Johnson said.

She noted some out-of-town visitors passing through the other day, while there were groups of people laughing and talking. Johnson warned the visitors the library wasn't a quiet one.

One of the visitors replied, "It looks like a happening place."

February 2009 ~ This article was taken from the Hutchinson newspaper website, www.hutchnews.com



January 2001~ Morton County Library has been ranked number one in a national library survey. According to a report recently published in the Wichita Eagle, Kansas fared well in a recent ranking of American public libraries as 43 finished in the top ten percent nationwide in their population categories. "We are proud to announce that Morton County libraries (Elkhart, Rolla, Richfield) were ranked first in the state for libraries in communities with population 2500-5000. In addition, we are nationally ranked eleventh of 1119 libraries of like population." said library director Virginia Johnson.

Thomas Hennen, the administrator of the Waukesha County Federated Library System in Wisconsin, created the index. Hennen decided the country needed a way to objectively rank its public libraries.

Hennen’s index looks at 15 weighted factors ranging from circulation to staffing levels to visits per capita. Nearly 9,000 public libraries across the United States were assigned scores ranging from zero to 100. Most of the libraries are grouped near the middle of the list. Morton County Library had a score of 861 and a percentile of 99.2%.

Morton County Library was formed in 1922 with 250 donated books. According to the Tri-State News in February 1928 the library loaned out 626 books.

Through the years, Morton County Library has been very progressive. The dedication of the librarians has made the library into one the community can be proud of. Morton County Library (including Elkhart, Rolla and Richfield) employs the following individuals:

Virginia Johnson, Elkhart director, has been with Morton County Library for 20 years. Other employees include Linda Mitchell who has been with the library 11 years, Carrie Williams, 10 years, Toni Bressler 9 years, Cheryl Morisse 9 years and Barbara Luck one year.

High School pages at Elkhart include Kim Overpeck, Samantha Scott, Loni Gilbert, and Kelisha White. Amanda Forinash works at the library when she is home from college.

In Rolla, director Cindy Hittle has been with the library for 9 years. Mandy Dunn has worked in the library for 7 years. The Richfield United Methodist Women help staff the library at Richfield.

Morton County Library board members are Carl Herrman, Missy McKinleyMike Wiegers, Ken Wasson and Terri Ryman.

If you haven’t been to the library in a while stop by and let the ladies show you all of the new and exciting things the library has to offer.






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This page was last updated on Thursday May 24, 2012