Library Journal, the long-established professional publication which reports news about the library world, has released its latest public library rating report, and once again, Bernardsville Public Library is at the top of the list with five stars as the #1 Public Library in New Jersey in its budget category ($400,000-$900,000) and the #2 Public Library in New Jersey overall. The ratings are based on four per-capita service indicators that are reported annually to state agencies: library visits, circulation, program attendance and public Internet computer uses. In libraries in its budget category, Bernardsville Library ranks fifth nationwide. The Library Journal Index of Public Library Service 2010 divides libraries into nine peer comparison groups based on total operating expenditures. Libraries are evaluated on each service indicator relative to the performance of other libraries in their peer group. All four indicators receive equal weighting.
Director Karen Brodsky says that one reason Bernardsville ranks so highly is due to community involvement. “We have many multi-talented library volunteers who are as dedicated to library service as our staff members,” she said, “And the library has received many generous gifts from community members that are used to fund specific initiatives.” The Somerset Hills Education Foundation (SHEF) has just made a $2,000 grant to the library for audiobooks for the library’s Youth Services collection to support the school curricula. The grant will be matched by an equal amount from the Friends of the Bernardsville Library which provides funding for programs and projects from local donations. Students and families of the Somerset Hills School District will benefit from these twin grants, and library staff members hope to continue to serve these library users at the level they have enjoyed in past years. Ms. Brodsky continued, “In difficult economic times, it is more essential than ever that the library find ways to partner with community groups with similar missions to maintain services for residents.”
In recent years, the library has also been the recipient of generous grants from St. John on the Mountain Outreach Commission which benefit the English-As-A-Second-Language program, and library volunteer Maud Thiebaud has just offered a scholarship to a qualifying staff member to underwrite a substantial portion of tuition for attaining a graduate library science degree (Master of Library Science or Master of Library and Information Science). “Staff development is important to maintain the library’s current level of excellent service,” said Ms. Thiebaud, “It also helps retain the caliber of personnel so necessary for patron support.”
Director Brodsky agreed, “Underwriting staff development is an effective, long-term gift to the community because the staff member must make a commitment to work at Bernardsville Library after graduation and the community benefits while he/she is in school. We are also fortunate that the Friends of the Library dedicate funds annually, as their budget permits, toward staff development.”