There are generally two types of public libraries rating systems: rating ranking and compliance ratings. In the United States, the ranking of public libraries are usually organized by independent research institutes or academic organizations such as the Hennen's American Public Library Ratings (HAPLR) system and the American Star Libraries (LJ Index); while the compliance ratings is mainly based on the state public library standards and is checked by the public libraries themselves as an important basis for its planned development and for its support from the federal or state governments and other social organizations.
In this paper, we compare the two types of rating activities separately, and find that there are significant differences in their evaluation subjects, evaluation purposes, evaluation content and evaluation methods. The former is generally organized by a third party team, conducting a horizontal comparison between libraries in the same group by ranking the mathematical operation of quantitative indexes, and is a “competitive evaluation”. The latter is dominated by the state library administration agencies or the library associations and such organizations, establishing “benchmarking” for libraries at different levels, helping them to select appropriate development goals and conduct self inspection and evaluation accordingly, generally checking whether the library meets a standard requirements of a certain level, and is an “up to standard assessment.” The former is more easily understood and accepted by the public, and the publicity is more effective. The latter is more conducive to the library to make targeted improvement plans based on leakages and vacancies.
At present, the evaluation and grading of public libraries in our country have the characteristics of both the “up to standard evaluation” and the “competitive evaluation” mentioned above. Considering that there are big differences in their purpose of evaluation, contents of evaluation, methods of evaluation and scope of application of evaluation results, it is difficult to consider both in the same set of evaluation tools at the same time. In the future, the two should be designed separately according to their different characteristics. Among them, the up to standard evaluation should focus on encouraging public libraries to carry out independent benchmark checks under the guidance of industry standards, and further improve the evaluation index system, which can increase the binding requirements on the modern management and professional management of libraries, The consideration of the value and influence of the library resources and services in the social life will make the content of the evaluation more systematic and complete. At the same time, the evaluation indexes should be transformed into the “YES or NO” judgment items that are easy to understand and answer, and the description of the evaluation results would be concise and clear for public libraries to improve their work according to the results of the assessment. The competitive evaluation should highlight the function of value declaration for the public and other stakeholders, simplify the content of evaluation so as to focus on the external interests. At the same time, we should strengthen the scientific verification of the comparability of competitive indexes and the weighted valuation of indicators, and adopt more rigorous mathematical methods to calculate and analyze, so as to enhance the persuasiveness of the ranking results.
Overall, we are still lack of domestic research on the characteristics and different rules of the “up to standard evaluation” and the “competitive evaluation”, while practices are mainly based on work experience and intuition foundation. The American experiences interpreted in this paper have provided us with a preliminary reference, but follow up research still needs to be combined with China's concrete practice to continuously improve its theories, methods and technologies. 2 tabs. 64 refs.