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Racine, Wisconsin, United States
We (my wife and I) are celebrating the 11th Anniversary of HAPLR, and more importantly, our 38th Anniversary. The HAPLR system uses data provided by 9,000 public libraries in the United States to create comparative rankings. The comparisons are in broad population categories. HAPLR provides a comparative rating system that librarians, trustees and the public can use to improve and extend library services. I am the director of Waukesha County Federated Library System.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

HAPLR and the LJ Index

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So, as the author of the HAPLR ratings, I am deeply flattered by the recent publication of the LJ Index. But I am also perplexed. As the author of HAPLR I am flattered because some of my chief critics have finally agreed to the need to evaluate public libraries, although they have embraced different methods. What are the differences between HAPLR and the LJ Index? They are many but the fundamental difference is that HAPLR includes input measures while the LJ index does not. The LJ Index looks at only one side of the library service equation. HAPLR looks at both sides. The HAPLR system does not simply develop scores for libraries. It offers a variety of reports to libraries that compare their performance to comparably sized libraries in their state and in the nation. Over the years, thousands of libraries have used standard or specialized reports to evaluate current operations and chart future courses of action. I am pleased that many libraries have improved their funding and service profiles with these reports.

In the end I believe that competition will make both our endeavors better and welcome the LJ Index.

1 comment:

  1. I was amused by Library Journal's editorial, "Better Than Hennen." Regardless of the content or quality of the new LJ ratings, the piece seems a shameful bleat born of insecurity and completely unworthy of that fine journal.

    Better than Hennen? Not better--different. And to be sure, much belated. LJ certainly must have weighed its options with extreme care to have sat on their data for all these years before coming out with another standard. More honest to say that they did nothing in that line for ages, and now, when their own machinery is presented, they try a smackdown move on the fellow whose work shamed them into activity.

    Hennen is not much beloved in the library world. That's because he presumed to put values on that old gray harridan, Miss Public Library, herself much beloved by her custodians, whether they did anything for her or not. And often enough it has been "not." It is neither excuse nor consolation that some try and fail. I am not much comforted to see California's libraries down at the bottom--I suppose I could become offended and spit on Hennen's computations. Sure, that would help plenty. Maybe I could formulate my own, including days of fine weather, and thus have Los Angeles come out ahead of Columbus?

    To Library Journal: Good luck and thanks for your new system. To Mr. Hennen: thanks for all your hard work, and may the Almighty reward you for your persistence.

    Michael McGrorty


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