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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.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Transparency, the Mystery Stats

With apologies to T.S. Eliot but not to LJ Index

Transparency and Mystery Stats

Transparency, Transparency, there’s nothing like Transparency.
LJ’s above outlier laws? It must be so, apparently.
There’s bafflement to statisticians, a standard score’s despair:
For when they give out stars to some, transparency’s not there.
You may seek it in the FAQs, you may look at Lyon’s Blog
But I tell you once and once again, transparency’s not there.

Transparency’s a lofty thing; of course we all want that.
Statistics rules must be there, LJs laid out the stats,
Spotlights on misreporting are as dim as they may dare:
Spotlights are dusty from neglect, the numbers are contraire,
The numbers jump from place to place. Outliers should be rare,
But when you look at LJ stars, Transparency’s not there.

The edit checks went wrong, you see, but once the data’s in,
Don’t expect LJ to show what their numbers should have been.
“The LJ Index did, precisely, one of the things it
Was designed to do: shine a “spotlight” when the sums don’t fit!
All data’s here? Look, look again, for Standard scores or Means,
Transparency and so much is gone, or so it truly seems.

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