PART II: SURVEY REPORT

In-Depth Evaluations

I. SUMMARY

Three programs were evaluated in-depth: the Texas Library System, the Technical Assistance Negotiated Grants (TANG), and the Special Projects Grant program. As part of the in-depth evaluation, EGS Research & Consulting conducted surveys of the ten Texas Library Systems, the 517 member libraries, the 17 Special Projects Grants, and participants in Special Projects Grants. The surveys were conducted in November and December 2001. Data were provided by the ten Library Systems, 422 member libraries, all Special Projects Grants, and 62 participants in the Special Projects Grants.

1. Texas Library System

The Texas Library System, composed of ten Library Systems, supports a diverse population of libraries, a large percent of which serve predominantly rural areas (70 percent). According to the member libraries, the Library Systems , are highly responsive to their member's characteristics and needs, even though they provide a range of similar services. The Library Systems provide a wide range of services to their member libraries. Most commonly, the Library Systems assist their member libraries with programs targeting underserved or unserved populations, accessing information through electronic networks, the establishment and enhancement of electronic linkages between and among libraries and between libraries and other organizations, and the sharing of resources among different kinds of libraries. Most of the member libraries have Internet access (98 percent) and automated catalog and circulation systems (77 percent). The Texas Library Systems developed a comprehensive assistance infrastructure in areas such as collection development, equipment, technology, operations and management training, training in the use and maintenance of technology, continuing education, and special programs for underserved or unserved groups. The largest percent of member libraries, according to the Systems, receive assistance in:

  • Collection development (100 percent).
  • Training library staff in the management and use of electronic resources (96 percent).
  • Continuing education and consulting services (90 percent).

The assistance the Texas Library System provides to member libraries led to significant improvements in all aspects of member libraries' operations, management, and service and to better service to the community. According to Library Systems, the assistance changed the library map:

  • Library staff increased their operations and management knowledge and competence.
  • Libraries are better able to serve their communities because their collections are current and broad.
  • Libraries make better use of technology and resources.

1.1 Member Libraries

Member libraries confirmed the data provided by the Texas Library Systems with regard to the scope of services and assistance the Systems provided to them and the significant positive impact these services had on their libraries. Member libraries portrayed the Systems as being highly responsive and helpful.

Most frequently, member libraries reported that they had received from their respective Library System:

  • Funds for collection development (98 percent).
  • Continuing education services (97 percent).
  • Staff training in the management and use of electronic resources (88 percent).
  • Consulting services (77 percent).
  • Assistance with reference questions (74 percent).
  • Training and help with grant writing (70 percent).

Member libraries expressed a high level of satisfaction with all services that the Systems provided to them. More than two-thirds of the member libraries considered the Systems' services and assistance "very helpful" in meeting their needs. Moreover, 33 to 61 percent of the libraries reported that the Systems' services and assistance helped improve "to a great extent" all aspects of their library. These aspects included their collection (61 percent), quality of service (43 percent), technology (43 percent), management (42 percent), operations (40 percent), planning (39 percent), range of services (37 percent), and ability to serve previously unserved populations (33 percent).

Member libraries reported multiple benefits that they received through their membership in the Texas Library System. Seventy or more percent of the libraries identified benefits such as:

  • Increasing their staff's knowledge and competence in the areas of library management and operations (85 percent).
  • Having a materials collection that was current, broad in scope and able to better meet community needs (77 percent).
  • Better utilization of new technology and resources to service the community (74 percent).
  • Enabling the library to offer enhanced access to a variety of information (73 percent).
  • Helping the library to obtain additional funding and other resources to improve services (69 percent).

Libraries' level of need for specific services and assistance and the extent of benefits they derived from the Library System was associated with:

  • The size of the legal service population.
  • The library's operating expenditures.
  • Urban, suburban, or rural character of their area of service.

Size of Legal Service Population. Fifty-eight percent of the libraries have small legal service populations (less than 10,000), 31 percent have medium legal service populations (10,000 to 49,999), and 11 percent have large legal service populations (50,000 or more). The size of the legal service population was significantly associated with:

  • Libraries' level of automation. Overall libraries with large legal service populations were more automated than libraries with medium and with small legal service populations.
  • Services received from the Library Systems. More libraries with small and medium legal service populations than libraries with large legal service populations received funds to train their advisory boards, assistance with grant writing, consulting and funds for special projects (bilingual/ESL, youth).
  • Perceived helpfulness of the Library System. Libraries with small legal service populations considered the Library Systems to be more helpful in meeting their needs than libraries with medium and large legal service populations.
  • Degree of library improvement. A significantly larger percent of libraries with small legal service populations than libraries with medium or large legal service populations reported improvements in their libraries.
Table I.1


Services Provided by Library System Helped Improve to a Great Extent Library's*

 

Size of Legal Service Population

Small (N=235)

Medium (N=128)

Large (N=45)

#

%

#

%

#

%

Collection

175

74.5%

73

57.0%

8

17.8%

Technology

116

52.3%

57

45.2%

6

13.3%

Operations

125

55.8%

39

31.2%

1

2.3%

Management

129

56.8%

46

36.5%

1

2.3%

Planning

112

50.2%

46

38.3%

5

11.9%

Range of service

104

47.1%

46

37.1%

5

11.6%

Quality of services

121

54.3%

54

43.2%

5

11.6%

Ability to serve individuals not served before

96

42.9%

39

31.7%

4

9.3%

Libraries' Total Operating Expenditures. Thirty-one percent of the libraries have operating expenditures of less than $50,000 (small); 35 percent have operating expenditures of $50,000 up to $150,000 (medium), and 34 percent have operating expenditures of $150,000 or more (large). Like the size of the population in the service area, libraries' operating expenditures were significantly associated with:

  • Libraries' level of automation. Libraries with larger operating expenditures were more automated than libraries with small and medium operating expenditures.
  • Services received from the Library Systems. More libraries with small operating expenditures received funds to install or upgrade their Internet connection, training their advisory boards, and assistance with grant writing.
  • Perceived helpfulness of the Library System. Libraries with small operating expenditures considered the Library Systems very helpful in meeting their needs (77 percent), than libraries with medium (71 percent) and large (59 percent) operating expenditures .
  • Degree of library improvement. A significantly larger percent of libraries with small operating expenditures than libraries with medium or large operating expenditures reported improvements in their libraries.
Table I.2


Services Provided by Library System Helped Improve to a Great Extent Library's...

 

Operating Expenditures

Small (N=130)

Medium (N=147)

Large (N=140)

#

%

#

%

#

%

Collection

99

76.1%

101

68.7%

56

40.0%

Technology

68

52.3%

67

45.6%

44

31.4%

Operations

75

57.7%

62

42.2%

28

20.0%

Management

75

57.7%

66

44.9%

35

25.0%

Planning

65

50.0%

57

38.8%

41

29.3%

Range of service

59

45.4%

58

39.4%

38

27.1%

Quality of services

67

51.5%

67

45.6%

46

32.8%

Ability to serve individuals not served before

57

43.8%

54

36.7%

28

20.0%

Urban, Suburban, Rural Area of Service. Seventy-two percent of the libraries serve primarily rural areas, nine percent serve urban areas, and 18 percent serve suburban areas. Overall, libraries that serve primarily rural areas have greater need of services, consider the services more beneficial, and improve their libraries to a greater extent as a result of Systems' services and assistance than libraries that primarily serve urban or suburban areas. Libraries that serve primarily rural areas are less technologically advanced, fewer have long-range plans, and fewer are members of consortia. While libraries in all types of service areas serve a wide range of population groups, the populations the rural libraries serve reported a higher level of satisfaction than the populations served by libraries in urban and suburban areas. Library Systems provide a wide range of services to all libraries; however, more libraries serving primarily rural areas receive assistance in grant writing, reference questions, and consulting services.

Libraries serving primarily rural areas are also more satisfied with funds for collection development and automation, training of library staff in use and management of electronic resources, training and assistance with grant writing, training in the development of long-range plans, continuing education, and consulting services. Libraries serving primarily rural areas consider their Systems to be significantly more helpful in meeting their needs and in helping them improve all aspects of their libraries.

Table I.3


Services Provided by Library System Helped Improve to a Great Extent Library's...

 

Urban

Suburban

Rural

# (38)

%

# (76)

%

# (297)

%

Collection

18

47.4%

31

40.8%

203

68.3%

Technology

9

23.7%

19

25.0%

146

49.1%

Operations

8

21.0%

15

19.7%

139

46.8%

Management

8

21.0%

18

23.7%

147

49.5%

Planning

11

28.9%

16

21.0%

131

44.1%

Range of service

9

23.7%

15

19.7%

127

42.8%

Quality of services

16

42.1%

16

21.0%

145

48.8%

Ability to serve individuals not served before

8

21.0%

16

21.0%

111

37.4%

2. Technical Assistance Negotiated Grants (TANG)

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission awarded Technical Assistance Negotiated Grants (TANG) to the ten Library Systems to assist their libraries in using and maintaining information resource technologies. Typically, the Library Systems use the grant to hire a technician to educate, support, and assist libraries with the use and maintenance of their technology. According to both the Library Systems and the libraries, TANG grants have changed the technology map of Texas libraries. The grants produce not only libraries that are technologically equipped but also libraries that are moving in significant steps toward technological self-sufficiency.

2.1 Library Systems

Through TANG, Library Systems provide a wide range of technology-related training, consulting and assistance to member libraries. Library Systems estimate that between 21 and 95 percent of the libraries receive these technology-related services. Most frequently TANG staff provide training, consulting and assistance on:

  • Security
  • Networking
  • Troubleshooting
  • Servers
  • Operating systems
  • Application and implementation of technology grants

Member libraries find these services to be either "very helpful" or "helpful" in meeting their needs. Library staff appreciate most the TANG technicians' knowledge and experience and the training being tailored to library staff knowledge and skills.

Prior to TANG-funded services, Library Systems estimated that only 15 percent of the libraries were technologically self-sufficient. As a result of the TANG training, consulting, and assistance, 47 percent of the libraries became technologically self-sufficient "to a great extent;" a three-fold increase. According to seven of the Systems, libraries offered significantly greater access to electronic resources to their patrons as a result of the TANG activities.

2.2 Member Libraries

Member libraries confirmed the data provided by the Library Systems. About 90 percent received technology-related training, consulting or assistance. Eighty-five percent regarded these services to be "very helpful" (59 percent) or "helpful" (26 percent). Member libraries valued the hands-on training, the technicians' knowledge and experience, and that training was tailored to staff knowledge and skills.

The TANG-funded technology-related training, consulting, and assistance created a dramatic shift in the technological self-sufficiency of Texas public libraries. The percent of libraries that emerged as technologically self-sufficient to a great extent grew nearly five-fold. Nearly 40 percent of the libraries reported that as a result of the TANG services they were able to use and maintain information resource technology to a great extent.

Table I.4


Extent to which Libraries Were Technologically Self Sufficient

 

Before Library System Provided Training

As a Result of Training Library System Provided

#

%

#

%

To a great extent

33

7.8%

154

36.5%

To a moderate extent

58

13.7%

161

38.2%

To some extent

137

32.5%

43

10.2%

To a minor extent

106

25.1%

13

3.1%

Not at all

48

11.4%

2

0.5%

No answer

40

9.5%

49

11.6%

Mean

3.20

 

1.79

 

Libraries' primary areas of service, size of legal service population, and operating expenditures were significantly associated with the benefits derived from the TANG services.

  • A smaller percent of libraries with large legal service populations (34 percent) than libraries with medium legal service populations (58 percent) or small legal service populations (64 percent) considered the TANG services to be "very helpful."
  • Libraries with small and medium legal service populations made significantly greater gains in becoming technologically self-sufficient to a great extent than libraries with large legal service populations.
  • A smaller percent of libraries with large operating expenditures (51 percent) than libraries with medium (62 percent) or small operating expenditures (65 percent) considered the TANG services to be "very helpful."
  • Libraries with small and medium operating expenditures made significantly greater gains in becoming technologically self-sufficient to a great extent than libraries with large operating expenditures.
  • A larger percent of libraries that serve primarily rural areas (63 percent) found the TANG-services to be "very helpful" compared with libraries that serve primarily urban (54 percent) or suburban (42 percent) areas.
  • Libraries serving primarily rural areas made the greatest leap in becoming technologically self-sufficient to a great extent (from three percent to 43 percent).
Table I.5

Library Characteristics

TANG Services Were Very Helpful

Technologically Self-sufficient Before TANG

Technologically Self-sufficient As a Result of TANG

Legal Service Population Size:

Small

64.5%

3.2%

42.6%

Medium

57.6%

10.3%

40.2%

Large

34.2%

31.7%

37.5%

Primary Areas of Service:

Urban

54.5%

29.4%

42.4%

Suburban

41.8%

19.4%

31.3%

Rural

63.0%

3.3%

43.2%

Operating Expenditures:

Small

64.9%

0.9%

44.7%

Medium

61.7%

5.9%

43.4%

Large

51.2%

18.3%

36.0%

3. Special Projects Grants

TSLAC awarded 17 grants to 15 libraries. The grants most commonly involved :

  • Development of special programs for bilingual or limited English proficiency groups (nine grants).
  • Expansion of non-English collections (seven grants).
  • Job assistance (one grant).

Libraries served a wide range of populations through the grants. Most commonly, projects addressed children, youth, elderly, bilingual/ESL, low-income, low-literate adults, childcare centers, and families.

According to grant project directors, individuals who participated in the projects were highly satisfied with the services they had received. This was also confirmed by the 62 participants who responded to the Patron Questionnaire.

Four of the 17 grants are still being funded . Twelve of the 13 projects no longer funded continue to provide the services they had provided under the grant. In most cases, the libraries continue to offer these services in a more limited fashion.

The Special Projects Grants had a significant impact on the respective communities and on the individuals that received services.

Table I.6

Impact of Services Provided Through the Special Projects Grant

Number of Libraries (N=17)

Percent of Libraries

Recruited new groups as patrons (e.g. bilingual, limited English proficiency, older adults, people with disabilities)

15

88.2%

Increased the number of patrons/users

14

82.3%

Increased number of preschool children exposed to reading

10

58.8%

Increased recognition on the part of parents or caregivers of preschool children of the importance of reading

10

58.8%

Increased literacy rate in community

8

47.0%

Increased English proficiency of community members

6

35.3%

Increased employment opportunities

5

29.4%

Improved job search skills

4

23.5%

Increased computer skills

4

23.5%

Grant participants provided similar testimony regarding the impact of the grant programs. Participants credited the programs with improving their reading and language skills, recognizing the importance of reading to their children, learning library skills and increasing library use, and learning computer, Internet and job search skills, which resulted in a job or better job acquisition.

Table I.7

Special Projects Grant Program Impact on Participants

Number (N=62)

Percent

Read more with child(ren)

28

45.2%

Check out books and other materials from the library

23

37.1%

Know more about available library services

22

35.5%

Learned how to use a computer or improved computer skills

14

22.6%

Learned how to use the Internet

12

19.3%

Learned how to look for a job

9

14.5%

Can read better

9

14.5%

Can understand English better

6

9.7%

Got a job or a better job

4

6.4%

4. Key Conclusions

The Texas Library System infrastructure provides a comprehensive set of services and support to Texas libraries in all areas of operations. While the Texas Library System is an important building block for all public libraries in the State, it is a lifeline for the libraries in rural areas. These libraries constitute more than 70 percent of all public libraries in the state.

Public libraries receive a wide range of services from their respective Library Systems, and a high percent consider these services to be very helpful. Moreover, a large percent of the libraries indicate that the services the Library Systems provide to them help improve their collections, management, operations, range and quality of service, and patron base allowing them to reach groups previously underserved or unserved.

The rural libraries, libraries serving small populations, and libraries with small budgets have a greater dependence on the services and assistance that the Library Systems provide to them. These types of libraries often express greater appreciation of the services and indicate that the services have a greater impact on their libraries.

Technology-related training, consulting, and assistance that Library Systems provide under the TANG grants have made a significant difference in libraries' self-sufficiency. The TANG-services not only increased the technological self-sufficiency of a large percent of the libraries, but also reduced the number of libraries lacking the minimum competencies in this area. The TANG program can be considered a "roaring success."

The Special Projects Grants, according to both grant project managers and service recipients (participants), provided valuable services that had a significant impact both on the direct participants as well as on their children and families, and subsequently on the community at large.

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