CHAMPAIGN — With four out of five stars, the Champaign Public Library for the fifth year in a row has been named one of America's top libraries.
Library Journal this month released its 2012 "Star Libraries." It's the fifth time the journal has ranked America's public libraries, and Champaign has made the list every time.
Monticello Township Library made the list, too, with an enviable five-star rating.
"What that says is we're really doing things well, efficiently, effectively," said Champaign Public Library Director Marsha Grove. "Because it's not only looking at how much you do, it's looking at things per capita."
The Library Journal survey uses 2010 data to compile its rankings. That year, Champaign library patrons checked out 2,640,627 items — the third highest of any library in the state. That translates into 35.1 items for every resident of Champaign — the highest circulation rate in the state among libraries serving cities with 40,000 or more residents.
"It's just gratifying that people here in the community love their library and use it at high rates," Grove said.
Champaign was one of 7,570 public libraries across the country to submit data to make the list. Only 262 libraries received at least three stars.
Illinois had 20 star libraries, the fourth most of any state in the country behind New York (34), Ohio (33) and Kansas (21).
It is the second year in a row that Champaign has received four stars. It received three stars the previous three years.
The Champaign Public Library is one of 111 in the nation to have been listed as one of Library Journal's "star libraries" during each of the five years that the magazine has published the rankings.
"It's really impressive because most of those other libraries have a higher operating budget than Champaign does," Grove said.
It might be tough to get that fifth star. Grove said circulation rates have been high even though the library budget, which is based almost entirely on property tax revenues, has struggled.
City officials expect property values to drop another 1.5 percent, and the Champaign City Council tonight is expected to approve a property tax levy that would set the library's operating budget at $6,341,000 for the next fiscal year. That would be $37,359 less than this year's budget.
City officials can still adjust those numbers before they approve a budget in 2013.