PART II: SURVEY REPORT

In-Depth Evaluations

III. TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE NEGOTIATED GRANTS (TANG)

"Training on technology issues is increasing self-sufficiency." (Library System Coordinator)

The Technical Assistance Negotiated Grants (TANG) is a subgrant program that addresses the LSTA priority of "establishing and enhancing electronic linkages and assisting libraries to acquire and share computer systems and telecommunications technologies." TSLAC allocated $600,000 of LSTA funds in 1999, 2000 and 2001 for this grant program in recognition that libraries need specialized technical training and consulting to assist their staff in maintaining their technology equipment. TSLAC gives priority in this grant to the Texas Library Systems. The grant is being implemented by the Library Systems to help their member libraries through technical training and assistance. Beginning in 1999, grants were awarded to each of the ten regional Library Systems for activities such as training staff in computer maintenance, and hiring additional staff with computer repair and maintenance skills who also train other staff and provide technical assistance.

For purposes of the in-depth evaluation, Library Systems and member libraries were asked about the use of TANG funds and the impact the services funded through TANG had on library operations and services.

A. LIBRARY SYSTEMS RESPONSES

The increased use of technology in library operations and service delivery requires increased knowledge and competence on the part of library staff in the use, management, and maintenance of these technological tools. Library Systems provided a wide range of technology training and assistance to their member libraries through the Technical Assistance Negotiated Grants (TANG) program. The table below lists the services that Library Systems provided to their member libraries in this area and the percent of the member libraries that received these services. As shown in the table, a large percent of member libraries received a wide range of technology-related services.

Table III.A.1

Library System Used TANG Funds To Provide Following Services

Number of Systems Providing Services

Mean Percent of Member Libraries Served*

Hire a technician to train staff of member libraries

7

79.1%

Inventory libraries' hardware, software, staff computer skills

8

67.4%

Train individual library staff, provide tailored training

8

61.7%

Train groups of member libraries' staff through workshops

8

59.5%

Provide training using TANG-funded laptops

4

47.7%

Develop technical training materials for libraries

4

85.0%

Purchase computer hardware, software, security software, tool kits, cleaning kits, and replacement parts for libraries

7

85.7%

Provide network testing using TANG-funded equipment

6

61.2%

Maintain small parts inventory for hands-on assistance

5

64.2%

Consult and assist libraries in person, by phone or online with technology issues

8

84.6%

Contract for in-depth consulting as needed

3

21.0%

Provide information from a technical information subscription service

3

95.0%

Provide hands-on assistance to library staff

8

80.4%

Provide information through newsletters or online on technology issues

6

98.3%

Assist libraries with technical grants

7

52.4%

Arrange for training by vendors through classes, workshops, Internet-based or video-based instruction

9

53.8%

Purchase technical manuals or other technical materials for libraries

9

78.4%

* As reported by Library Systems.

Member libraries that received technology-related services funded under TANG found most of these services either "very helpful" or "helpful" (mean rating between 1 and 2). Among the large range of services, member libraries found most helpful the different training that the TANG staff provided.

Table III.A.2

Helpfulness of TANG-Funded Services to Member Libraries

Number of Systems Rating Helpfulness of Services

Mean Helpfulness*

Hire a technician to train staff of member libraries

7

1.29

Inventory libraries' hardware, software, staff computer skills

7

2.86

Train individual library staff, provide tailored training

8

1.37

Train groups of member libraries' staff through workshops

9

1.44

Provide training using TANG-funded laptops

4

1.50

Develop technical training materials for libraries

5

2.60

Purchase computer hardware, software, security software, tool kits, cleaning kits, and replacement parts for libraries

7

2.00

Provide network testing sing TANG-funded equipment (e.g. Fluke)

5

1.80

Maintain small parts inventory for hands-on assistance

5

2.20

Consult and assist libraries in person, by phone or online with technology issues

8

1.37

Contract for in-depth consulting as needed

2

1.50

Provide information from a technical information subscription service

3

2.00

Provide hands-on assistance to library staff

8

1.37

Provide information though newsletters or online on technology issues

6

2.00

Assist libraries with technical grants

7

1.86

Arrange for training by vendors through classes, workshops, Internet-based or video-based

9

1.55

Purchase technical manuals or other technical materials for libraries

9

2.22

* Means were calculated based on a 5-point helpfulness scale, where "1" referred to "very helpful" and "5" referred to "not at all helpful."

The scope and breadth of TANG assistance to member libraries was also represented in the wide range of topics that TANG staff presented to member libraries and the frequency with which they addressed these topics, as shown in the table below. Most often, TANG staff addressed the following topics:

  • Security
  • Networking
  • Troubleshooting
  • Servers
  • Operating systems
  • Application and implementation of Gates, Tocker, and TIF grants
Table III.A.3

Topics Addressed Through TANG Training, Consulting or Other Assistance

Library Systems' Frequency of Addressing TANG Topics

Never

Rarely

Sometimes

Often

Wireless

2

1

5

2

Assist library staff in working with vendors

2

--

6

2

Wiring and testing

3

1

2

4

Automation software upgrades and conversions

3

1

3

3

Installations

2

--

2

6

Security

--

--

3

7

Servers

2

--

2

6

Operating systems

1

--

3

6

Networking

--

--

3

7

Network maintenance

1

1

3

5

Web site set-up/development

5

1

3

1

Videoconferencing

8

1

1

--

Hardware maintenance

1

--

4

5

Cleaning

1

--

5

4

Troubleshooting

1

--

2

7

Gates, Tocker, TIF, other grant application and implementation

3

--

1

6

A+ certification

4

2

1

3

Microsoft Certified Professional

8

1

--

1

Certified Novell Administrator

8

2

--

--

Introduction to PCs

5

--

2

3

Windows 98

3

1

3

3

Windows 2000

2

1

3

4

Windows NT

1

1

4

4

Internetworking with TCP/IP

2

1

5

2

Overall, member libraries, according to data provided by eight Library Systems, found the TANG services highly helpful in meeting their needs. Seven of the Library Systems rated these services as "very helpful" to their member libraries and one System rated it as "helpful."

Table III.A.4

Overall Helpfulness of TANG Strategies in Meeting Needs of Member Libraries

Number of Systems

Percent of Systems

Very helpful 7 70.0%
Helpful 1 10.0%
Moderately helpful -- --
Of little help -- --
Not at all helpful -- --
No answer 2 20.0%
Mean helpfulness* 1.12  

* Mean was calculated based on a 5-point scale where "1" referred to "very helpful" and "5" referred to "not at all helpful."

Library Systems provided several examples demonstrating how their TANG strategies helped their member libraries. The following are several of the examples offered by Library Systems:

Availability of the TANG technician via phone, on-site visits, and e-mail has encouraged libraries to acquire and manage computer equipment that they might not have previously acquired, due to the lack of availability of technical expertise in our rural areas. (Having to get a technician from a town 30 miles away who will charge extra because of the distance tends to discourage a desire to automate or provide Internet access.) Knowing that low-cost technical help is available has encouraged libraries to apply for TIF, Gates, and other grants that they might not have previously sought. In the process, they have increased their own abilities and broadened the type of requests for assistance made from the TANG technician from simply troubleshooting, repair, and installation to a broader role in planning, consultation, and implementation.

TANG has assisted member libraries in establishing and implementing sound security and anti-virus policies within their system. For example, the TANG technician has assisted numerous libraries in setting up security on their networks and workstations. Due to the technical nature of this type of configuration, the librarians would not have been able to perform such tasks, and therefore would have ended up with less secure systems and more problems. An emphasis has also been placed on educating librarians about computer virus prevention through sound policies regarding e-mail, and by assisting with the installation and updates of anti-virus software.

Training on technology issues is increasing self-sufficiency. System staff serve as the "technician" and are able to help solve minor problems.

Member libraries indicated that TANG strategies (i.e. the TANG-funded technician) enabled libraries to set up, edit and improve their own web pages; and led to increased self-sufficiency in network wiring. The TANG technician also provided valuable assistance in TIF grant writing. Members had increased knowledge prior to Gates and TIF grant processes. This assisted in preparing and implementing those grants.

Since the TANG grant, all member libraries have Internet access and e-mail. Members have technical assistance they need to apply for grant funding, such as TIF, E-rate, and Gates Foundation grants.

The TANG-funded technician provided on-site assistance and training and also arranged for computer vendor training.

Networking classes were very helpful because the TANG staff person was knowledgeable.

According to one of the Library Systems, all libraries associated with the System will be automated by the end of FY2002, and 100 percent of libraries and branches have public Internet access. Member libraries were excited about new technologies; and the quality and availability of assistance has been invaluable (cannot be measured).

Library Systems agreed that a wide range of factors contributed to the success of their TANG strategies. Nine of the ten Library Systems concluded that the most important factors included:

  • Experience and knowledge of the TANG technician or other provider (i.e. vendor, consultant), and
  • Ability to tailor the training to the level of knowledge and skills of member library staff.

Library Systems also appreciated the value of providing training on-site and hands-on and following-up with member libraries subsequent to the training.

Table III.A.5

Factors That Contributed To Success of Library System TANG Strategies

Number of Systems

Percent of Systems

Technician's experience and knowledge

9

90.0%

Technician has experience in working with libraries

7

70.0%

Training was tailored to the level of knowledge/skills of staff

9

90.0%

Training was hands-on

8

80.0%

Technician provided training on-site

8

80.0%

Technician provided follow-up training where needed

8

80.0%

Materials were user friendly

3

30.0%

Technician has a 1-800 line for technical assistance

7

70.0%

Technician established a relationship of trust with the library staff

8

80.0%

Technician's communication abilities

8

80.0%

A users' needs survey

3

30.0%

The success of the TANG strategies that the Library Systems employed was also manifested in the increased level of technological self-sufficiency of member libraries. Prior to the TANG-funded training, only 15 percent of libraries, according to the Library Systems, were considered technologically self-sufficient. The percent of technologically self-sufficient libraries increased more than three-fold to 47 percent, as a result of the TANG strategies.

Table III.A.6

Percent of Technological Self-sufficiency of Member Libraries

Number of Systems

Mean Percent of Libraries

Before TANG-funded training

9

15.4%

After TANG implementation

9

47.3%

Percent change

 

31.9%

The increased technological self-sufficiency of libraries had an impact on the types of assistance or training that member libraries requested in the past two years. Three of the Library Systems reported that libraries' requests for training or assistance has changed a lot between 1999 and 2001; six Library Systems saw some change in the types of requests.

Table III.A.7

Extent of Change From FY99 to FY01 in Types of Assistance or Training Member Libraries Request

Number of Systems

Percent

A lot of change

3

30.0%

Some change

6

60.0%

No change

--

--

Unsure/Don't know

1

10.0%

Library Systems offered a number of examples of the changes in the types of requests for training or assistance on the part of member libraries.

  • One Library System saw an increase in the number of requests for assistance as the libraries' trust level increased. This System also experienced an increased number of calls for staff training, especially tailored training, and for assistance with grants for purchasing equipment.

At the same time, this Library System got fewer calls concerning minor problems because library staff have learned basic troubleshooting skills and can do preliminary work before calling.

  • According to another Library System, most of the requests involved troubleshooting for Windows 2000, servers, and LANs.
  • Members were asking more sophisticated questions about networks, operating systems, firewalls, etc. One of the emerging areas included requests for more advanced network training from specific vendor groups.
  • The requests from member libraries have become more sophisticated and typically involved networks rather than individual PCs.
  • As a result of the TANG-funded training and assistance, libraries were able to better articulate needs concerning technology. Libraries were also able to prepare clearer and better-defined grant applications.
  • Library staff have a greater knowledge of their technical/computer needs and were able to do some troubleshooting locally. Libraries were requesting further software training.
  • More willingness by library directors and staff to take ownership of technology; resistance to technology was lowering; importance of databases was increasing.

The TANG strategies that Library Systems employed benefited member libraries, and ultimately library patrons. According to eight of the Library Systems, member libraries offered more access to electronic resources to their patrons.

Table III.A.8

Member Libraries Which Received TANG Training Offer More Access to Electronic Resources to Their Patrons

Number of Systems

Percent

Yes

8

80.0%

No

1

10.0%

Unsure/Don't know

1

10.0%

Five of the Library Systems reported that their member libraries offered significantly greater access to electronic resources to their patrons. Two Library Systems assessed that the access to electronic resources that their member libraries offered to patrons increased to a moderate extent, as shown in the table below.

Table III.A.9

Extent to Which Member Libraries That Received TANG Assistance Offer More Access to Electronic Resources to Their Patrons

Number of Systems

Percent of Systems

To a great extent

5

50.0%

To a moderate extent

2

20.0%

To some extent

1

10.0%

To a minor extent

--

--

Not at all

--

--

No answer

2

20.0%

Mean*

1.50

 

* Mean was calculated based on a 5-point scale where "1" referred to "to a great extent" and "5" referred to "not at all."

Library Systems offered multiple examples demonstrating that their member libraries offered greater access to electronic resources to their patrons.

A Library System reported that, through assistance via the TANG program, one small rural library was able to get a TIF grant for three computers to be used for public Internet access. The TANG technician assisted with advising the library with regard to computer specifications, Internet connections, installation of the machines and software, and configuration of the units. Subsequent problems with crashed hard drives were promptly resolved by the TANG technician. Without TANG assistance, this small rural library would not have been able to obtain, install, and maintain public Internet computers which, among other things, allow patrons access to the State Library's TexShare databases.

Another county library was able to increase the number of public access Internet computers and also reduce their monthly ISP costs with the assistance of the TANG technician. With TANG assistance, the library applied for and obtained five new computers, a printer, and a router from the Gates Foundation. The specifications and arrangements for the cabling and Internet connections were provided by the TANG technician, who traveled to the library both before and after the arrival of the Gates Foundation computers to assist with the planning, installation and configuration of their network. This library is now planning to automate and will be calling the TANG technician to help develop specifications for grant applications and equipment purchases.

  • According to another Library System, a number of libraries have switched to the more stable wireless technology. Greater technical knowledge means the computers are 'down' less with improved performance of public computers.
  • Member libraries indicated that staff people were better able to utilize online databases after training provided by the System's staff. The library web pages have also improved.
  • Gates/ TIF computers and installation and training labs now attract more users of Internet and databases at all sites.
  • Member libraries put their catalogs on the web and added networks.
  • A Library System reported that all its member libraries have Internet access and that all library catalogs will be online by the end of 2002.
  • The TANG staff person explained TexShare databases to member libraries and set the home page to TexShare. This staff member also set up a small network to allow two computers to access the Internet with one phone line.

As a result of TANG-funded training and assistance, member library staff were better able to use and maintain information resource technology, according to Library System coordinators. For example:

  • According to a Library System coordinator, through several workshops, a regular newsletter, e-mails, phone calls, and on-site visits from the TANG technician, librarians and staff have been able to receive free advice and training on using and maintaining their computers. This has resulted in the shift away from troubleshooting and repair requests to more questions regarding future technology plans. Although the TANG technician is still used for such tasks as replacing cards, hard drives, or installing brand new systems, many librarians are now able to do routine maintenance tasks themselves. In fact, after receiving training from the TANG technician, the librarians at some libraries have been able to perform such non-routine tasks as replacing power supplies, video cards, etc. Librarians with limited skills have also been able to call the TANG technician and perform tasks they would have previously not even attempted. For example, the librarian in one of the libraries reinstalled a program that had become corrupted by having the technician patiently walk her through the steps over the phone, even though it took several hours and several phone calls to finish the task. This both reduced her computer downtime and saved the technician a round trip of 208 miles and allowed him to work on another project in between calls. Increased skills have saved these libraries money, reduced down time, and allowed the TANG technician to accomplish more.
  • Member libraries, according to another Library System coordinator, have less down time, are better able to repair hardware through help lines, and increased their community contacts.
  • Member library staff people are constantly praising support given by the TANG technician. Many testimonials came from libraries that could not afford to continue their service contracts after the completion of the TIF grant. As the TIF grants end, libraries rely on TANG to help keep their systems up.
  • A Library System coordinator reported that they have seen great change. However, this was not necessarily the result of TANG only. During this same time period many members received Gates Foundation and TIF grants and training. The original TANG A+ services helped lay a foundation for many members to build on.
  • All library staff use Internet and online resources for reference services. Many libraries offer computer use classes for the public.
  • Computer technician and computer vendor training have empowered public library staff.
  • Library staff are no longer afraid to install new parts or try to troubleshoot problems.
  • Staff have become dependent on the technology for providing services- answering questions and gathering information- in the course of their everyday workload.
  • Staff are better able to communicate with vendors (example- TIF vendors). Staff expanded the ways in which they used online databases and Internet. Member library staff have a higher level of "comfort" with e-mail, the System's web page, and the newsletter offered on the web page.

Library System coordinators were asked to add any comments or suggestions. Comments made by Library System coordinators addressed the benefits of TANG to their member libraries. These comments included the following

  • A major value of both the System and TANG grants is that they provide a way for area librarians to get personalized, friendly, professional assistance whenever it is needed. This is not something that can be quantified. Trust is built over time, and contacts fluctuate in number and type of request depending on how new a librarian is and what type of activities the library is involved in at the time. (For example, at Annual Report time, calls to the System Office increase markedly. If a library is beginning the process of automating, the number of calls, e-mails, and visits for that library increases. When new untrained staff are hired at area libraries, System staff are called on to provide assistance and training.
  • The TANG grant has enabled us to provide specialized assistance that had been needed for a long time, but which System staff could not adequately provide in addition to their other responsibilities. The System had discussed the need for System sponsored technical/ technological assistance by a knowledgeable individual since the early 1980s, but the System was not able to afford to add a staff member in the System grant. Having the TANG grant as a separate entity not tied to the System funding formula has enabled our area librarians to receive a desperately needed service.
  • TANG fills a critical need for hand holding with technology problems. Without TANG assistance a lot of computer screens would go dark and stay that way.
  • Because TANG is not part of the System grant, we have had to outsource our TANG offerings. Because of the firm we have used this has worked well to this point.
  • Received great benefits from TANG grants- training component.
  • Libraries in small towns have so many responsibilities that they will always need technical help from someone they can trust to look after their best interests.

Library System coordinators also suggested that:

  • TANG should have a more coordinated approach statewide.
  • Software support could be a further step for TANG.

Part Two, Section Two D | Part Two, Section Three B

Page last modified: March 2, 2011