Texas State Library and Archives Commission
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Table of Contents:
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The mission of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) is to provide Texans access to the information needed to be informed, productive citizens by preserving the archival record of Texas; enhancing the service capacity of public, academic, and school libraries; assisting public agencies in the maintenance of their records; and meeting the reading needs of Texans with disabilities.
Several sources were used to assess Texas’ key statewide needs and inform the development of the plan goals and activities. These sources include: the evaluation of the agency’s current LSTA five-year plan; a survey sent to all types of libraries to assess needs and goals; a statewide resource sharing summit; and conversations with the agency’s commission, the TexShare Advisory Board, the Library Systems Act Advisory Board, and librarians at the Texas Library Association annual conference. In addition, state trend information from the state demographer, the plans and goals of other closely related state agencies, and the Governor’s priorities were consulted.
Texas is a growing and very diverse state across many dimensions. There are strong regional differences across the state in terms of population trends, economic challenges, and demographic characteristics. Texas is a majority minority state. About 80% of the state’s population (and population growth) is east of I-35, framed by the triangle formed by the Dallas-Ft.Worth metroplex, the Houston area, and the Austin-San Antonio corridor, along with growth in urban centers in west and south Texas. In contrast, many rural areas in west and east Texas having declining populations. The levels of educational attainment by demographic group varies, some having low levels of post-secondary education. This characteristic has long-term implications for economic development. The Governor has identified as priorities education and economic development. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) has a new strategic plan called “60x30TX” with the goal of 60% of young adults having some type of postsecondary credential by 2030 (currently only about 38% meet this goal) to support the economic future of the state. A report to the Governor from the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Workforce Commission, and the THECB speaks to the need to integrate education and workforce efforts, and a need for lifelong learning. Overall, challenges with educational attainment, workforce development, and regional economic development are the primary statewide issues identified from these sources.
The feedback from the library community reinforce these themes. The evaluation of the current LSTA five-year plan shows that the agency set aspirational, outcome focused goals that were largely achieved, but were also goals that require on-going efforts. Libraries overall ranked (in terms of impact) the statewide services of TexShare, TexQuest, Interlibrary Loan, the Summer Reading Program, and Community/Continuing Education related programs and services the highest. The evaluators found that other programs, such as the competitive grants, also contributed significantly to meeting the plan goals, but as these programs do not reach as many libraries, were not as highly ranked. Comments from the evaluators and the libraries especially noted the importance of statewide cost efficiencies and resource sharing to helping all libraries, and the need to have a community based focus.
The commission and the agency advisory boards discussed the need to provide a structure to help support libraries of all types, to assist in improving digital inclusion and literacy, to promote cooperation and partnerships among libraries and community organizations, to help all libraries show their value and relevancy to their communities, and to assist with diverse community needs, especially education and workforce issues.
The agency’s Statewide Resource Sharing Summit in December 2015 brought together librarians of all types with other stakeholders to discuss the future of resource sharing in Texas. The summit participants recommended five themes: sharing expertise; sharing infrastructure; improving access; leveraging resources; and marketing/outreach. Each theme had one or more goals that included partnerships to provide broadband across Texas, providing Texans with access to innovative library services and information resources, increasing the awareness of the value of libraries, and maximizing shared resources.
The survey showed that libraries of all types aspire to be major contributors to their communities, valuing their role in digital inclusion, providing access to broadband and a rich array of internet connected resources, with contributing to educational attainment almost equally strong. While early childhood literacy ranked third, library contributions to a number of literacies (early childhood, family, digital, and others) were woven throughout the comments for all needs. Having a role in economic development was ranked fourth, although again, comments on libraries linking people to job and educational resources were also woven throughout the other strands. Following from the needs, the goals of providing access to shared library resources and services to build a strong foundation for early literacy and success in school were ranked almost equally, with providing access to Internet connected resources and services to meet community and personal goals a close third. Meeting the LSTA purpose of expanding services for learning and access to information and educational resources to support education, lifelong learning, workforce development, and digital literacy skills was overwhelmingly the top choice of survey respondents. Community engagement, innovation, and showing value were also frequently mentioned, in the context of libraries of all types being engaged with and meeting the needs of their individual communities.
Nationally, Texas public libraries rank at or near the bottom compared to libraries in other states on most input/output metrics collected by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, such as total support per capita, paid staff, and several other metrics. These metrics indicate that generally Texas public libraries do not have adequate resources to provide the level of services that the public expects in libraries today. Texas has about 520 accredited public libraries that show a strong urban-rural disparity. Forty-five large urban libraries serve about 68% of the population, while about 400 small libraries serve about 13% of the population. In 2016 the agency conducted a test of Texas public libraries’ broadband speed. The test showed that only 6% of public libraries meet current standards for broadband connections. While this standard is a high bar, only 40% of libraries meet the much lower standard of 25 Mbs download, 3 Mbs upload. A Federal Communications Commission report on Internet access released in April 2017 shows that while Internet connectivity overall continues to slowly rise, in part due to mobile access, many people continue to lack Internet connectivity or sufficiently robust connectivity, with rural areas especially lagging.
Together the range of sources used to identify key state needs for library services indicate that the basic structure of needs and goals from the current five-year plan are still relevant and need continuing effort, but with some revision to more closely link libraries and their communities.
As we undertake the activities described in the plan in the next five years, we have several ways to make sure the needs we have identified remain the needs that should be addressed. We will have regular meetings with agency advisory boards and other groups to ensure we keep current on trends and changing needs in the state. In addition, we will carefully monitor demographic and economic conditions in the state, as well as progress on key initiatives of other state agencies, and will use data to evaluate the status of Texas libraries to determine whether or not any of the trends or conditions indicates that we should change the needs or goals in the plan.
The following key state needs for library services are derived from the needs assessment:
- Digital Inclusion – All Texans and Texas communities need access to Internet connected resources and services and the support they need to use them to meet individual and community needs.
- Literacy and Educational attainment – Texans of all ages need access to services and resources that promote and enhance literacy and further formal and informal learning.
- Workforce and economic development – Texans need access to resources and services for workforce development in order to prosper and enhance the economic development of their communities.
Goals (in priority order):
- Texans will have access to shared library resources to meet their educational and informational needs.
- Texans and Texas communities will have access to Internet connected resources and services through Texas libraries to meet community and personal goals and the support needed to use the resources and service successfully.
- Texans will have access to library services that support literacy and educational attainment, especially early childhood and family literacy, digital literacy, and lifelong learning.
- Texans will enhance their workforce readiness, including business and entrepreneurial endeavors, through use of materials and services at their libraries.
- Texans will receive library services that effectively respond to community needs.
Criteria for prioritization:
The goals were prioritized using the following criteria:
- Has statewide impact;
- Leverages the agency’s comparative advantages in statewide cost savings and expertise;
- Responds to stakeholder input.
Note: full program descriptions, program timelines, and program output and outcome targets will be added to the final document.
Goal 1: Texans will have access to shared library resources to meet their educational and informational needs.
- TexShare E-resources
- TexShare Card program
- TexShare Courier program
- TexQuest E-resources
- Statewide Library Collaboration – leverage the national platforms to improve discovery of materials and cooperation among libraries
- Interlibrary Loan
- Access to Texas and local history - Support activities that provide online access to Texas and local history through digitization including grants, training, and resources from the Library Development and Networking and Archives and Information Services Divisions
Goal 2: Texans and Texas communities will have access to Internet connected resources and services through Texas libraries to meet community and personal goals and the support needed to use the resources and services successfully.
- Access to Internet connected resources and services - Support activities that provide enhanced patron access to Internet connected resources and services – programs include projects to enhance library broadband connectivity, Ploud (content management based library websites), e-rate application support, library technology consulting and training with a focus on small libraries, grants that support new library technology to meet community needs.
- Talking Book Program - Support the Texas State Library and Archives Commission’s Talking Book Program in providing enhanced access to digital content for blind and visually handicapped patrons, including outreach and training, production of digital materials, and access systems.
- Support activities that promote cooperation among libraries to support shared networks and services, including grants and training.
- Support activities that promote the adoption of community engagement initiatives that promote the value of libraries such as the Edge Public Access Technology Program
Goal 3: Texans will have access to library services that support literacy and educational attainment, especially early childhood and family literacy, digital literacy, and lifelong learning.
- Collaborative Summer Library Program
- Support activities that promote early childhood and family literacy and reading programs in libraries through grants, model programs such as Family Place Libraries, the Texas Center for the Book, and training.
- Support initiatives that enhance the ability of libraries to engage with their communities and with other agencies and organizations to address literacy and related needs
Goal 4: Texans will enhance their workforce readiness, including business and entrepreneurial endeavors, through use of materials and services at their libraries.
- Support activities that enhance the ability of libraries to offer job, workforce, and business development services through grants, training, model programs, and cooperation with related agencies such as the Texas Workforce Commission.
Goal 5: Texans will receive library services that effectively respond to community needs.
- Support activities that enhance the ability of libraries to provide responsive community service, through continuing education, management training with a focus on small public libraries, specialized library consultations, and activities that strengthen coordination and cooperation among libraries, and with libraries and other agencies or community organizations.
Coordination Efforts With Other State Agencies
The agency has worked with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), including an active partnership using TWC grant funds, the Texas Veteran’s Commission, and other state agencies on projects and initiatives. As projects unfold for the priorities under this new plan we will continue to work actively with these partners and others to most effectively and efficiently achieve our goals.
Crosswalk with Measuring for Success focal areas and intents
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The evaluation of funded projects will have two components:
(1) Output measures and financial performance
TSLAC is required to report output measures and financial information on its programs. The output targets for the agency are developed for each biennium and reported annually. Targets will be set in this plan for those projects for which funding is known to be available. Additional targets will be added in later years if other possible initiatives outlined in this plan are funded. Grant programs must report the following information quarterly or semi-annually, with an annual report:
- Financial Status - reports of grant and program encumbrances and/or disbursements;
- Performance Measure Reports that list the output measure targets to be reached by each project.
(2) Outcome Based Evaluation (OBE)
The agency continues to collect outcome information on its programs as appropriate. We recognize the value of this information to the agency, to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and to the library and broader community to understand the impact of the programs on the people of Texas. The agency will work with each grant recipient to determine appropriate outcomes, where appropriate, for their projects and will provide training on outcomes during the next five years. The agency also reports on outcomes as defined by IMLS’ Measuring Success project.
Texas librarians and other interested persons have had several opportunities to have input into the development of the plan. Stakeholders had numerous opportunities to provide comments on LSTA programs and services through the evaluation of the current five-year plan, as outlined in that document. The agency held a resource sharing summit with librarians representing all types of libraries as well as other stakeholders. This summit helped define key statewide resource sharing goals. We also conducted another online survey to gather information on key needs and goals for the next five-year plan, provided an opportunity for librarians to participate in a conversation at the Texas Library Association annual conference, addressed our two official advisory boards (Library Systems Act Advisory Board and TexShare Advisory Board), and discussed needs and goals with the agency’s commission in an open meeting. The draft plan was made available to the Texas library community for final comment. After the comment period a final draft version of the plan was created and submitted to the agency’s commission for discussion and approval. Information about participating in these opportunities was widely disseminated through electronic lists, our blog, and meetings.
The agency has a section on its website dedicated to information on its LSTA five-year plan, including the text of the current and proposed plan, previous plans, the five-year evaluations, and any related documents and information. We inform the Texas library community about the availability of this information through email lists, our blog, and meetings.
We monitor the performance of LSTA funded activities through contracts, reports of output and outcome targets, site visits as appropriate, internal audits, and regular contact with subrecipients, contractors, and program staff.
TSLAC has formal processes for monitoring its sub-grant and contract programs. The evaluation section of this plan describes the output measures and financial information that are required of the agency. These are used to monitor the progress of subrecipients and contractors in completing their projects or services. Both program managers and grants accounting staff are involved in this review. Quarterly or semi-annual narrative reports augment the statistical and financial information for grants and service contracts. Program managers are also in close contact with project staff throughout the year. Contacts may be by telephone, email, or site visits. Site visits are also used to more closely work with projects that appear to be having difficulty, to document projects that have been very successful, and to gather more detailed information about grant projects and processes through discussion with selected project staff.
Information gathered through these methods is used by all grant program staff at the agency to improve agency projects and sub-grant programs. Program managers also meet regularly to exchange information and incorporate findings into the agency planning processes.
Agency projects also report quarterly output measures. Staff receive training and are regularly reviewed through performance evaluations.