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
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,
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
"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
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