Once again, The Brumback Library has been given a star designation by Library Journal. (File photo)
Once again, The Brumback Library has been given a star designation by Library Journal. (File photo)

VAN WERT — For the 12th year in a row, The Brumback Library has been recognized as one of the best public libraries in the United States. The library has again been given a star designation by Library Journal, one of only 31 libraries in Ohio to be so honored.

“The Brumback Library is truly honored to have been named a Star Library for the 12th year in a row. Its ranking as a five star library, first in its overall category in the United States, is most exemplary,” said Library Board of Trustees Vice President Joan Stripe. “The people of Van Wert County are well served by a library that has over 352,000 items, a very exhaustive collection size for any library. In fact, the Brumback Library holdings make it one of the largest rural public libraries in the State of Ohio.”

In 2020, over 732,000 items were checked out by nearly 29,000 patrons of all ages. The library’s chief funding comes from the Ohio Public Library Fund. It makes up 82% of overall funding revenue. The library’s half-mill levy is also a vital funding source. Recently approved by Van Wert County voters, it has helped the library greatly.

“We are truly grateful for the support of Van Wert County’s residents in passing the aforementioned levies. These funds are vital to our very existence,” said Brumback Library Director John Carr. “The people of Van Wert County once again supported the levy with an overwhelming majority.

As always, the doors of main library and its branches in Convoy, Middle Point, Ohio City, Willshire, and Wren are open to one and all.”

Five different measures of the service libraries deliver to their communities were taken into account when determining this year’s index scores and star status: overall circulation, circulation of electronic materials, library visits, program attendance, and public Internet computer use.

In order to make fair, apples-to-apples comparisons, each library is compared to its peers that have about the same amount of funding. As a result, receiving a star rating not only means that the library itself delivers a strong return on investment, but that, when graded on a curve, it is one of the strongest performers. As a result, a library’s star rating can change from year to year, not because that library’s own performance has changed, but because its fellow libraries have raised their own achievements, so they’re being graded on a different curve.

From 2009 to 2015, the index was based on four per-capita statistics: circulation, library visits, program attendance, and public Internet computer use. For the two previous editions, 2016 and 2017, those statistics were joined by circulation of electronic materials per capita. In 2018, the rating system added Wi-Fi sessions per capita to the index. Thus, the index is based on the six statistics.

“The Brumback Library may have a smaller staff and the Brumback Library may have made other necessary reductions, but we continue to allocate significant funding for the purchase of print and non-print materials, direct services to the public, building maintenance, and programming efforts, such as the library’s annual Summer Reading Program which had over 1,500 participants this past summer,” Stripe pointed out.

“The Library remains true to Founder John Sanford Brumback’s vision, that being we seek to meet the educational, informational, and recreational reading needs of Van Wert County residents of all ages. The Brumback Library truly serves as a lifelong center of learning for one and all. We encourage everyone to avail themselves to its many resources, services, and programming efforts,” Carr stated.