The Kansas City Public Library has joined a select group of public libraries across the country, earning a 5-star designation from the Library Journal.
The Journal's ratings, measuring the contributions that public libraries make to their communities, were released by the trade publication on Friday, November 1, 2013. Only one other Missouri library, the North Kansas City Public Library, was accorded 5-star status.
Nationally, fewer than one in 35 public libraries - 263 of 9,315 - received that top rating.
"We're honored by this designation," says Kansas City Public Library Director Crosby Kemper III. "It's the highest professional accolade a library can receive other than the Institute of Museum and Library Services' Gold Medal (which the Library was awarded in 2008).
"To be in this select group and see our designation rise from 3 to 4 to 5 stars in the last four years is very gratifying. The Library has a wonderful staff. And it has been well supported by our donors, our taxpayers, and our patrons."
Alluding to the Library's initiative to make Kansas City one of the most literate cities in America through the promotion of reading, Kemper says, "This is also a recognition that Kansas City, with all its great libraries, is building a community of readers."
The New York-based Library Journal bases its ratings on per-capita library use in four areas - circulation, library visits, internet computer usage, and program attendance - as reported to state library agencies and compiled nationally by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. This year's index uses that data from 2011.
The Journal classifies libraries according to their yearly expenditures, and awards three, four, or five stars to the top libraries in each category. The Kansas City Public Library is among 112 libraries with budgets between $10 million and $29.9 million, the second-highest spending group. In that category, it was one of 11 earning five stars.
Others were in Naperville, Illinois; Salt Lake City, Utah; Santa Monica, California; Arlington Heights, Illinois; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Mercer County, New Jersey; Centereach, New York; Howard County, Maryland; Schaumburg, Illinois; and Evansville, Indiana.
The Kansas City Public Library earned three stars in 2009 and four stars in each of the past three years. Upward movement is rare. Only 25 other libraries are new 5-star designees, all but two of them in smaller-budget classifications.