Accreditation and the Pandemic: The 2020 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report, an FAQ

We acknowledge the hard work that public libraries did under very trying circumstances to submit their Annual Reports for 2019. Five hundred and forty libraries completed their reports, only three fewer than last year. We know that this was a challenge for many of you, and we appreciate your efforts to provide this important information to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC). As State Librarian and Director Mark Smith published recently, we feel your pain; we are all in this together.

Having anxiety about potential loss of accreditation due to circumstances beyond your control is understandable. We recognize that this year’s circumstances are extraordinary and will require a considered approach to both reporting and accreditation. There are legal requirements relating to accreditation that our agency must follow. It is our intention to bring together our agency leadership and in-house counsel to review these requirements and determine the best way to proceed.

We do not have all the answers yet but hope to have a plan that we can share with you by the end of the summer. We have your concerns in mind and will be working on providing some concrete information as soon as we can. Be assured that we will work on a broad solution to help libraries the best way possible.

There have been many questions about the 2020 Annual Report and accreditation. Here is where we stand on those issues at present: If this FAQ does not answer your question, contact us at accreditation@tsl.texas.gov.

Q:  Our expenditures this year will not meet the library’s maintenance of effort (MOE). How can the library stay accredited?

A:  This issue is in discussion with staff here at TSLAC. Rules for accreditation are in Texas Administrative Code, so we must weigh in with in-house counsel as well as our commission. We hope to develop solutions and guidance over the next few months, including review by the Library Systems Act (LSA) Advisory Board in the fall.

Q:  We are facing budget cuts for the coming fiscal year or years, due to loss of tax revenue during the pandemic. How can the library stay accredited?

A:  Continue to submit the Annual Report. There may be indirect costs that can make up the difference. Alternatively, city- or county-wide cuts can form the basis of an appeal to the LSA Board.

Q:  Our library is closed for an indefinite time. Should we still submit an Annual Report?

A:  YES! The annual communication from your library to ours is vital for so many reasons. Outside of accreditation, the statistics we generate form a state- and nationwide picture of the role and value of libraries that should not be lost, even if our facilities are closed.

Q:  Our facility is not open to the public, but staff are working. Is the library open?

A:  Yes and… We expect to see fewer open hours on the 2020 report. Everyone is aware of the impact the pandemic has had on businesses, government, recreation, the economy, etc., so this will be reflected in the Annual Report. When reporting “hours open,” this is the number of hours the building is open to the public. You will have the opportunity to report the actual service hours–the hours that the staff has been answering questions, providing curbside delivery, cleaning, and weeding–at another place in the Report.

Q: How do we count library visits?

A:  Follow the current definition. These will be down since the library building is not open to the public. Curbside service will be reflected in the library’s circulation numbers, staff responses to questions will be reported in reference transactions, programs and attendance counts will be reported, as well.

Q:  All of our programs are now virtual. Will this be counted differently?

A:  Yes! For live programs that are held online count total or peak views. Recorded programs do not follow the existing definition but should be tracked and tallied for the library’s stakeholders. More information on this will be published on the Annual Report webpage, https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/annualreport.

Q:  We now leave our Wi-Fi on 24 hour and have expanded its range. How do we report this?

A:  Wi-Fi sessions must be tracked using software on the library’s router. More information on how to do this can be found here:  Count Your Wi-Fi Usage.

IMLS Releases 2017 Public Libraries Survey Data

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has published the dataset from the 2017 Public Libraries Survey. This provides a look at public library use, financial health, staffing, and resources from reporting year 2017.

Cover of 2017 Public Libraries Survey

For over 30 years, IMLS has published this information collected from over 9,000 public library systems representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and US territories.

According to IMLS Director Crosby Kemper, “Libraries continue to connect with their communities and provide services that support the needs and interests of their patrons, including access to digital materials. We are pleased to share the latest version of IMLS’s annual survey, which shows that attendance at library events is up, indicating an understanding of what the community wants from their library.”

Highlights in this report:

  • There were over 1.3 billion visits to libraries by 55% of those who lived in an area serviced by a public library.
  • Programs and program attendance increased significantly over 2016. There were 5.6 million programs attended by 118 million children, young adults and adults.
  • Electronic resources continue to grow, and their popularity has increased. Public libraries offered over 463.5 million e-books to their patrons.

Texas State Library staff truly appreciate the librarians and library directors who contributed to these findings, through their submission of the Texas Public Libraries Annual Report.  This information is vital to policymakers, researchers, journalists and the general public, to help evaluate and plan for libraries now and in the future.

2019 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report Portal Locks on April 30

Thank you and congratulations! to the two-thirds of Texas public librarians who have locked their Annual Report for 2019!  And if you are one of the nearly 50% who have submitted the signed Application for Accreditation, then give yourself an pat on the back!

This report does more than accredit Texas public libraries.  It provides the information that represents Texas libraries to the rest of the nation and beyond.  It allows stakeholders to have access to the data that tells every library’s story and to demonstrate the library’s value to the community.

However, there are still nearly 200 public libraries that need to get their report in by Thursday, April 30th!  For those of you who have completed the process, reach out to the library in the next town or county and make certain they have submitted everything that is needed.

Known issue:  question 3.9b will not always calculate and this will prevent report submission.  Valicia Greenwood can force the calculation on the back end.  Send an email to vgreenwood@tsl.texas.gov if you encounter this problem.  Other issues have been addressed here.

Libraries that submit an Annual Report are eligible to order Summer Reading Program materials at no cost, through this agency and CSLP.  Libraries that are accredited can benefit from the TexShare Card and TexShare Databases programs, from statewide interlibrary loan, from the competitive grants and other funding opportunities that come through this agency, and from E-rate, the federal telecommunications program that can provide up to a 90% discount for telecommunications.

Questions?  Submission Issues?  Accreditation concerns?  Visit the Annual Report webpage, or contact Valicia Greenwood by email.

Thank you, again, for your participation! Your library’s voice strengthens libraries everywhere.

It’s Time! Submit the 2019 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report!

As we all “spring forward,” it’s time for Texas public library directors to get all of the library statistics collected over the last local fiscal year and enter them into Texas LibPAS.  This report is due no later than Thursday, April 30, 2020, a due date which cannot be extended.  We recommend that libraries complete the report before the end of this month, to allow staff enough time to review the reports from over 550 Texas public libraries!

Log-in information was emailed to public library directors in early January.  If there has been a change in leadership at your library, or if the information is no longer available, contact us at your earliest convenience (information below).

Answers to Frequent Questions

The new question, 7.9:  Successful Retrieval of Electronic Information. This question intends to capture use of databases (also called electronic collections) that cannot be included in the item and circulation count easily. If the library has databases either on its own or through a consortium, report the usage statistics from the vendor.  Report only sessions or full text items that your patrons have viewed. Report “0” (zero) in 7.9 if your library has ONLY TexShare databases.  A database that is freely available in the public domain should not be included.

Edit check on question 3.11:  Total Operating Expenditures, which states,

The ratio of TOTAL OPERATING EXPENDITURES to TOTAL STAFF EXPENDITURES is higher/lower than expected. Please check for possible errors or explain why the correct data are out of range.”

This is an edit check we have carried from our federal report that pops up when staff expenditures exceed half to two-thirds of the total operating expenditures.  There is no judgement here:  it is a mathematical check.  To resolve it, please add a note explaining that staff and total operating expenditures have been checked and verified. 

Printing the report:  clicking on the word “Print” at the top of the page will pop up a dialogue box with the following choices:

  • Template – this is the entire workbook, with question definitions and responses.
  • Screen – this is just the questions and responses, much as what is seen on the screen.
  • Cancel – if you don’t want to print, click on this.

If you print the report before it is locked, you will see a watermark of the word “Draft” on every page.  That no longer appears once the report is locked, even though you can still print the report.

Much more information is found on the Annual Report webpage:  https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/annualreport, including

Don’t forget to submit the signed Application for Accreditation, once your report is locked.

Email (accreditation@tsl.texas.gov) or call (800-252-9386 or 512-463-5466) if additional clarification is needed. 

Your participation helps give a voice to libraries nationwide.  Thank you for all your time and effort!

2019 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report: Issues and Explanations

Reminders and log-in information for the 2019 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report were sent out in early January.  If your library has not received this information, or if there have been staff changes recently, send an email to accreditation@tsl.texas.gov.

Over 20 percent of reporting libraries were represented at the Introduction to the 2019 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report webinar.  If you missed it, click on the title to watch the recorded event and click herefor the slides.

New Question, 7.9:  Successful Retrieval of Electronic Information. This question intends to capture use of resources such as Hoopla, Freegal, and the like. If your library has ONLY TexShare databases, report “0” (zero) in 7.9.  Do not report TexShare database usage. If the library has databases either on its own or through a consortium, report the usage statistics from the vendor.  Report only sessions or full text items that your patrons have viewed. Any database that is freely available in the public domain should not be included. Do not report OverDrive or participation in a consortium.

More information is found here: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/annualreport. Email or call if clarification is needed. Here is a sample of what is there:

Reminder:  submitting the report by the end of March allows staff enough time to work through calculation and accreditation issues.  The Report and signed Application for Accreditation are due to the State Library no later than Thursday, April 30.  That deadline cannot be extended without possible loss of accreditation.

For additional information, contact Valicia Greenwood, Library Statistics Specialist at vgreenwood@tsl.texas.gov or 512-463-5466.  Questions can also be sent to accreditation@tsl.texas.gov, or 1-800-252-9386 (toll-free in Texas).

Ready for Input: 2019 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report

Texas LibPAS, https://tx.countingopinions.com/, the data collection portal for the Texas Public Libraries Annual Report, is now open for reporting local fiscal year 2019 information.   Public libraries are encouraged to submit their information by March 31 to allow staff time to review the reports and work through accreditation issues.

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission participates in a national public library data collection system and the data is used for the creation of a composite report on the public libraries of the United States, and for state-to-state comparisons by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  Additionally, some data elements in this report are used to accredit public libraries in the state of Texas.

Accredited libraries can participate in statewide interlibrary loan and E-rate–the federal telecommunications discount program.  They are also eligible to apply for the agency’s competitive grants and other funding opportunities, and to participate in the TexShare Card and TexShare Database programs.

Information on preliminary population assignment and the library’s maintenance of effort (MOE) is available on the portal login page or the Annual Report webpage, under Tips and Tools, Population & MOE Planning Toolhttps://www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/annualreport.

Emails were sent out last week reminding library directors of their Texas LibPAS log-in information. If you have not received the email, or you have questions about the Texas Public Libraries Annual Report, please contact Valicia Greenwood by email or call within Texas toll-free 800-252-9386.

Webinar This Week! Introduction to the 2019 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report

On Thursday, January 9, at 2 p.m., Library Statistics Specialist Valicia Greenwood will present an Introduction to the 2019 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report.

This webinar contains all you need to know about the Texas Public Libraries Annual Report and public library accreditation.  Whether this is your first time through, or have been doing it for years, it will be worth your time to participate.

You’ll learn tips for successful completion and what changes have been made in report questions.  There will be time spent on the financial reporting sections and details about maintenance of effort (MOE).  There will be links to tools that will help you understand the questions, from reporting downloadable materials to program statistics.  Each section of the report will be discussed and you will see a live demonstration of how to work your way around Texas LibPAS, the data collection portal. This is a great time to ask the questions you may have about reporting and accreditation.

This webinar provides 1 TSLAC CE hour of credit with the live viewing.  Join us!  Register at Introduction to the 2019 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report.

Prepare for the 2019 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report

Now is the time to prepare for the 2019 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report! Putting the information together now will reduce the aggravation, anxiety and frustration of pulling it together next year!

Join LSTA/Accreditation Program Coordinator Stacey Malek and Library Statistics Specialist Valicia Greenwood on Tuesday, November 12, 2019, 2:00-3:00 p.m., to learn about the information needed to complete the 2019 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report. Check out our new AR Prep Excel workbook and learn how to calculate the library’s maintenance of effort (MOE). Register here:
Preparing for the 2019 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report:  https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/765988369853380867.

Aren’t available that afternoon? Register now and receive an email when the recording is available, so that you can watch when it is convenient for you.

Questions? Contact us at accreditation@tsl.texas.gov.

Using Texas Public Library Statistics in Reports and Presentations

As the saying goes, “Without data, all you have is another opinion.” However the challenges many librarians face are, (a) where to find appropriate data, and (b) how to present it effectively.

In a free webinar on Thursday, October 10, 2:00-3:00 p.m., join TSLAC Horizontal bar graphLibrary Statistics Specialist Valicia Greenwood and Program Coordinator Stacey Malek as they explore national, statewide and local statistical resources. They will also demonstrate how to create custom reports in Texas LibPAS, the Texas public library data collection portal (https://tx.countingopinions.com/). Discover what to do with the information you collect in the Texas Public Libraries Annual Report, and learn a few tips on how to showcase the library in a new way.

Checkout the handout and the slides in advance. Register here:  https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1353745504620421891.

2018 Texas Public Library Statistics Available

Thank You! once again, to the 542 Texas public librarians and library directors who submitted their library’s 2018 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report. Collected data has been reviewed, analyzed, and submitted to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for national publication. Formal letters confirming accreditation were sent by email a week ago.  If you believe your library should have received one, and did not, please let us know!

The statistics for 2018, including statewide trend information,  can be found on the Texas Public Library Statistics page, https://tsl.texas.gov/ldn/pubs/texaspubliclibrarystatistics.  The collected information from all Texas public libraries is displayed in reports through Texas LibPAS, which can be downloaded into Excel files.

Check out the 2018 Individual Library Statistics and Comparison Charts.This workbook has separate tabs that allow a library to view individual library information; averages within its population group and the state as a whole.  There are also comparison charts with up to four other libraries on a variety of measures.

For tips and directions on using these statistics, register now for the Using Texas Public Library Statistics in Reports and Presentations webinar on Thursday October 10, 2:00-3:00 p.m.

If you need any information for presentations, please contact Library Statistics Specialist Valicia Greenwood (vgreenwood@tsl.texas.gov) or Program Coordinator Stacey Malek (smalek@tsl.texas.gov).  We will be happy to assist you!