PART II: SURVEY REPORT

In-Depth Evaluations

A. LIBRARY SYSTEMS SURVEY

1. Characteristics of Library Systems

Texas has 10 Library Systems. The Library Systems and the percent of their member libraries that primarily serve urban, suburban, and rural areas are presented in the table below. On average, about 70 percent of the member libraries serve rural areas, 18 percent serve urban areas, and 12 percent serve primarily suburban areas. More than 90 percent of the member libraries associated with TPLS, BCLS, and WTLS serve primarily rural areas. TTPLS, HALS, and NTRLS have the smallest percent of libraries that serve rural areas; NTRLS has the largest percent of libraries that serve suburban areas.

Table II.A.1


Percent of Member Libraries Primarily Serving Urban, Suburban, and Rural Areas

Library System

Urban Areas

Suburban Areas

Rural Areas

Big Country Library System (BCLS)

5%

--

95%

Texas Panhandle Library System (TPLS)

4%

--

96%

Central Texas Library System (CTLS)

7%

21%

72%

South Texas Library System (STLS)

38%

--

62%

Northeast Texas Library System (NETLS)

13%

19%

67%

Texas Trans-Pecos Library System (TTPLS)

69%

--

31%

North Texas Regional Library System (NTRLS)

6%

42%

53%

Houston Area Library System (HALS)

31%

23%

46%

West Texas Library System (WTLS)

9%

--

91%

Alamo Area Library System (AALS)

2%

20%

78%

Mean

18.4%

12.5%

69.1%

Between 10 percent and 45 percent of member libraries associated with the 10 Library Systems have librarians with American Library Association (ALA) Master's in Library Science (MLS) accredited degrees. On average, 26 percent of the member libraries have such degrees. NETLS, HALS, and NTRLS have the highest percent of libraries with such staff and BCLS, TPLS, CTLS, and WTLS have the lowest percent.

Table II.A.2

Library Systems

Percent of Member Libraries with ALA Accredited MLS Librarians

Big Country Library System (BCLS)

10%

Texas Panhandle Library System (TPLS)

14%

Central Texas Library System (CTLS)

15%

South Texas Library System (STLS)

27%

Northeast Texas Library System (NETLS)

45%

Texas Trans-Pecos Library System (TTPLS)

20%

North Texas Regional Library System (NTRLS)

42%

Houston Area Library System (HALS)

45%

West Texas Library System (WTLS)

15%

Alamo Area Library System (AALS)

26%

Mean

26%

Six out of the ten Library Systems reported that they have a long-range plan. The long-range plans of these six Systems address future library trends. These six Systems inform their member libraries of these future trends.

Table II.A.3

Long-range Plan

Number of Responding Systems

Number of Systems

Percent of Systems

System has long-range plan:

10

   

Yes

 

6

60.0%

No

 

4

40.0%

Plan addresses future library trends:

6

   

Yes

 

6

100.0%

No

 

--

--

Inform libraries of future trends:

6

   

Yes

 

6

100.0%

No

 

--

--

Library Systems identified the following future library trends that they addressed in their long-range plans.

  • Changing demographics. Population in service area is aging which will lead to a shrinking tax base. � Technology and its impact on service and on delivery of resources and training.
  • Integration of technology into all organizational activities of the System as the primary service delivery model. Technology includes continuing education courses offered via distance learning; basic consulting and information dissemination via upgraded web pages.
  • Training member libraries in technology to help libraries use equipment, hardware, software and electronic resources, and to help members market the use of electronic resources to patrons. � Increased Internet use by library patrons. Library patrons are using fewer traditional sources and relying more on Internet resources.
  • Staff training and recruitment.
  • Cooperation and resource sharing. Cooperation between and among libraries and with different types of libraries as well as with other agencies, including partnerships with community groups.
  • Youth services. Boost low literacy levels by enhancing youth services collections and providing higher quality workshops and other support for youth services programming.
  • Funding. Funding issues include low local funding and static System funding.

Library budgets are not increasing. Library Systems identified several recent library trends that have influenced the services that they provide to member libraries. The use of technology in library operations was identified by all Systems and reported to have had the most pervasive impact both on the Systems and on their member libraries. For example:

  • Continuing changes in technology have resulted in more technological training. In one of the Systems, three consultants train staff in the use of the Internet and the Texas State Library databases. These consultants/specialists have assigned areas of expertise (i.e. youth, adult, or development), but each is also expected to train staff directly on the use of the Internet and online databases.
  • Another System focuses on the implementation of technology in libraries of different sizes. The use of technology has affected the System's consulting, staffing and continuing education efforts and activities.
  • Technology, according to another System, has influenced a wide range of services to member libraries. These services include information dissemination via fax, design of web pages, use of electronic mailing lists and e-mail; hardware and software training for library staff; continuing education workshops; hardware and software consulting; and automation consulting. One System purchased fax machines for each member library, while others purchased them as needed.
  • The availability of grant funding to public libraries encouraged one System to hire a development officer to assist member libraries with grant research and writing. The development officer also co-wrote and administered a large TIF grant for member libraries.
  • Another System reported that the increase in the use of technology has motivated the System to offer more training. The System has also assisted member libraries with writing grant applications or actually wrote technology grants for them.
  • One system reported purchasing books on tape to serve both rural residents and seniors.
  • Another System recognized that low financial support means a high turnover of library directors and staff, resulting in an ongoing need for basic library training. Low financial support also means that these libraries need collection development funds.

The technology status of member libraries varies widely. For example, all ten Systems and nearly all their member libraries (98 percent) are connected to the Internet. Nine of the Systems report that, on average, more than 80 percent of their libraries provide access to online databases to their patrons. More than three-quarters of the member libraries have automated catalog and circulation systems. However, the automated catalog and circulation systems are available through the Internet in only a small percent of the member libraries. Only a small percent of the libraries (16 percent) also have long-range plans.

Table II.A.4

Libraries with:

Number of Systems

Mean Percent of Member Libraries

Long-range plans

9

16.0%

Automated catalog and circulation systems

10

76.7%

Automated catalog available through the Internet

9

28.8%

Automated circulation system available through the Internet

5

6.6%

Internet connection

10

98.2%

Providing access to online databases to their users/patrons

9

82.2%

According to eight of the Library Systems, only 28 percent of their member libraries are members of consortia. Most typically, these libraries participate in consortia of multi-type libraries.

Table II.A.5

Consortia

Number of Responding Systems

Number of Systems

Percent of Systems

Mean percent of libraries who are members of consortia

8

 

28.0%

Type of consortia:

8

   

Public libraries only

 

1

12.5%

Multi-type libraries

 

7

87.5%

2. Services Provided by Library Systems to Member Libraries

Library Systems reported that they used LSTA funds to assist libraries in three areas:

  • Expand services to populations underserved previously such as persons having difficulty using the library and underserved urban and rural communities.
  • Expand access to information through electronic networks.
  • Create and enhance linkages and cooperation, using electronic means or otherwise, with other and different types of libraries and with community organizations in order to share resources.
Table II.A.6

Library Systems' Use of LSTA Funds

Number (N=10)

Percent

Established and enhanced electronic linkages between or among libraries

7

70.0%

Linked libraries electronically with educational, social, and informational networks

7

70.0%

Assisted libraries in accessing information through electronic networks

9

90.0%

Encouraged libraries to establish consortia and share resources

6

60.0%

Encouraged libraries of different kinds (i.e., public, school, academic, professional) to collaborate and share resources

6

60.0%

Paid costs for libraries to acquire and share computer/telecom technologies

3

30.0%

Targeted services to persons having difficulty using the library and to underserved urban and rural communities

10

100.0%

Library Systems provided a wide range of services to member libraries, as shown in the table below. Among these, services provided by all Library Systems included:

  • Assistance with collection development. This service has been provided to all member libraries.
  • Training library staff in management and use of electronic resources and in grant preparation. These services benefited 72 to 96 percent of the member libraries.
  • Continuing education services for member libraries. This service benefited about 90 percent of the member libraries.
  • Consulting services. These services also benefited about 90 percent of the member libraries.

Four to nine of the Library Systems also assisted member libraries with providing services to specific populations such as bilingual/ESL, older adults, youth, and people with disabilities. These services were provided to between 40 and 70 percent of member libraries associated with the respective Systems.

Table II.A.7

Services Provided to Member Libraries by Library Systems

Mean Percent of Member Libraries Served

Number


Library Systems

Percent

Collection development: books and other materials

10

100.0%

100.0%

Funds for library video collection operation

8

80.0%

72.4%

Purchase of computers for member libraries

6

60.0%

41.8%

Funds for installing an Internet connection

5

50.0%

36.4%

Upgraded member libraries Internet connection

3

30.0%

40.7%

Training member library staff in the management and use of electronic resources

10

100.0%

95.8%

Training and helping library staff to write grants, assistance with grant writing

10

100.0%

71.8%

Training member library staff in the development of long-range plans

6

60.0%

44.0%

Purchasing for member libraries (or assisting with the purchasing of) video and teleconferencing/distance learning equipment

2

20.0%

40.0%

Purchasing and upgrading member libraries' hardware and software

6

60.0%

51.0%

Purchasing equipment for accessing electronic resources

5

50.0%

61.0%

Purchasing office and other equipment for member libraries

7

70.0%

53.8%

Fund bilingual/ESL and literacy projects

8

80.0%

41.8%

Fund projects serving youth

5

50.0%

67.0%

Develop long-range plan for System

6

60.0%

50.0%

Fund projects serving older adults

9

90.0%

69.1%

Fund projects to serve people with disabilities

4

40.0%

56.2%

Proving funds for planning projects

3

30.0%

15.2%

Providing funds for library automation projects

6

60.0%

24.1%

Assist member libraries with reference questions

7

70.0%

68.8%

Provide continuing education services for member libraries

10

100.0%

89.6%

Provide continuing education services to library advisory board

7

70.0%

42.5%

Provide consulting services to member libraries

10

100.0%

89.6%

According to information provided by the Library Systems, member libraries were highly satisfied with the services they had received from their respective System in 2000-01, as shown in the table below.

Table II.A.8

Member Libraries' Satisfaction with Services System Provided in 2000-01

Number of Systems Responding

Mean Satisfaction of Member Libraries

Collection development: books and other materials

9

8.67

Funds for library video collection operation

7

8.14

Purchase of computers for member libraries

6

8.67

Funds for installing an Internet connection

2

10.00

Upgraded member libraries Internet connection

3

9.33

Training member library staff in the management and use of electronic resources

9

8.44

Training and helping library staff to write grants, assistance with grant writing

8

9.25

Training member library staff in the development of long-range plans

5

7.00

Purchasing for member libraries (or assisting with the purchasing of) video and teleconferencing/distance learning equipment

3

8.67

Purchasing and upgrading member libraries' hardware and software

4

8.75

Purchasing equipment for accessing electronic resources

4

9.00

Purchasing office and other equipment for member libraries

7

8.86

Fund bilingual/ESL and literacy projects

6

8.83

Fund projects serving youth

4

8.75

Develop long-range plan for System

8

8.37

Fund projects serving older adults

4

8.00

Fund projects to serve people with disabilities

1

8.00

Proving funds for planning projects

4

9.00

Providing funds for library automation projects

7

9.00

Assist member libraries with reference questions

9

8.78

Provide continuing education services for member libraries

6

8.17

Provide continuing education services to library advisory board

8

8.75

Provide consulting services to member libraries

--

--

* Means were calculated based on a 10-point satisfaction scale , where "1" referred to "very dissatisfied" and "10" referred to "very satisfied."

One of the Library Systems reported that its member libraries were not satisfied with the assistance they had received in the area of collection development. Some members wanted more money put into collection development grant programs. Collection development grants have been shrinking each year as funds were used for consulting staff.

Seven of the Library Systems reported that as a result of the funds and services they provided, their member libraries improved "to a great extent." Two of the Library Systems assessed the improvement of their member libraries to be "moderate."

Table II.A.9

Extent to Which Member Libraries Improved As a Result of Library System's Services

Library Systems

Number (N=10)

Percent

To a great extent

7

70.0%

To a moderate extent

2

20.0%

To some extent

--

--

To a minor extent

--

--

Not at all

--

--

No answer

1

10.0%

Mean

1.20

 

Library Systems offered many examples demonstrating how services their member libraries provided improved to a great extent. What follows are narrative and summary statements, taken from the Library System staff surveys, which clearly illustrate the impact System servives had on the libraries they serve.

Improvements, according to one of the Systems, can be seen in the type, quantity, and quality of library services offered at local libraries. Five libraries, one in a formerly unserved county, have become members of the System in the last five years. The number of libraries offering full Internet service, automated catalogs, and story times during the school year (not just in the summer) has increased. The quality of reference service offered and the quality of the library collections have both improved. System sponsored workshops, collection evaluations, and general ongoing consulting by phone, email, and personal visits have all contributed to these improvements.

Some individual libraries have shown great improvement, others have fluctuated over the years, and one or two have decreased the services offered. The key factor is the attitude (more than the ability or training) of the local librarian. This is outside the control of Systems. Where improvements have been seen, the local librarian was willing to work with System staff to learn techniques, get ideas, and make changes. The System has also contributed to the quality of the collection and services by providing funds with which to purchase materials and equipment which the libraries could not afford with their limited local budgets, but that assistance does little for service if the librarian doesn't use it wisely. System assistance has made a difference by providing information, suggestions, training and sometimes, more importantly, by just providing someone knowledgeable with whom to talk things over. Until local libraries have budgets that allow them to hire professionally trained librarians, the availability of assistance from the Systems is critical in this rural area.

A second System indicated that, "System consultations have improved local collections, community and political relationships, professional skills, and aided the development of new facilities."

A third Library System based examples of improvement on the responses that member libraries provided on the Library Questionnaire:

Member libraries indicated that grant writing assistance was invaluable; numerous libraries mentioned specific grants they had received as a result of System staff assistance. Libraries also indicated an increased utilization of online databases subsequent to training provided by System staff. Member libraries indicated appreciation for System assistance in weeding and taking inventory of collections, as well as offering improved summer reading programs, large print book collections for older patrons, and youth programming as a result of System support.

Examples of improvement provided by other Library Systems stated that:

Spanish language and language learning material collections were developed. Enhanced spoken audio collections were being developed for visually impaired persons.

Grant research and writing assistance (TIF, Gates, Tocker, etc.) provided by the System improved member libraries' services through computer equipment, information access, and staff training.

Wrote grants (TIF, Tocker, Gates) for Internet access, automation, and library materials to update library collections gave libraries access to TSEL databases and enabled them to automate.

General and specialized consulting enhanced libraries' service through improved collections.

Continuing education to member libraries improved their services through management training.

All members benefited from the System providing Internet connection for all libraries.

Continuing education workshops and training the System sponsored were always needed and evaluated highly.

Age of collections of the member libraries improved through strong emphasis on collection development (e.g. workshops, required policies).

Without funding from the System, approximately 10 libraries would have no collection/material funds, according to one of the Systems.

The System's libraries were being automated with consulting help; approximately 14 have automated or were very close to completing their automation in FY2001.

The System provided extensive continuing education by many different, highly rated means.

In their survey comments, Library Systems staff also attributed some improvements in some of their member libraries to:

  • The attitude of local librarians who were unwilling to learn new techniques and make changes.
  • Changes in member library personnel.
  • High library director turnover, which meant that such libraries might not realize the extent of services their respective System could provide.
  • Lack of local support and commitment.

Library Systems identified several barriers they experienced in serving their member libraries. The most common cited barriers were:

  • Lack of or insufficient level of System resources, whether funds or staff, to support member libraries.
  • The wide geographical dispersion of libraries in the Systems' service areas.
Table II.A.10

Barriers Library Systems Experienced in Serving Member Libraries

Library Systems

Number (N=10)

Percent

Library System does not have enough funds

9

90.0%

Insufficient Library System staff

8

80.0%

Library System staff do not get/have appropriate training

2

20.0%

Member libraries are dispersed over a large geographic area

8

80.0%

Member libraries' staff do not have the appropriate knowledge and skills

4

40.0%

Member libraries lack appropriate level of technology

2

20.0%

Available training does not meet needs of member libraries

1

10.0%

Between one to five Library Systems identified special population groups their member libraries had served with special programs since 1997-98. The population groups are listed in the table below. Most commonly, member libraries served bilingual/ESL, older adults, low-income, and youth groups through targeted programs.

Table II.A.11

Populations Member Libraries Have Served Since 1997-98

Library Systems

Number (N=10)

Percent

Low-income

5

50.0%

Bilingual/ESL/LEP

6

60.0%

Older adults

5

50.0%

Early childhood, new mothers

1

10.0%

Youth

5

50.0%

People with disabilities

2

20.0%

Rural residents

4

40.0%

Urban, inner city residents

4

40.0%

Low literate adults

4

40.0%

Intergenerational groups

1

10.0%

Member libraries derived multiple benefits from being associated with Library Systems. Basically, these benefits have helped member libraries meet their community needs through better services provided in a more effective and efficient manner. All Library Systems agreed that the most common benefits their members derived included:

  • A quality collection that better meets the needs of their communities.
  • Better utilization of technology and resources to serve their communities.
  • Increased management and operations knowledge and competence.
Table II.A.12

Benefits Libraries Derive from Membership in Library System

Library Systems

Number (N=10)

Percent

Offer programs to meet the needs of special populations in their community

8

80.0%

Libraries have increased management and operations knowledge and competence

10

100.0%

Libraries have a materials collection that is current, broad in scope and can better meet the needs of their community

10

100.0%

Libraries are better able to utilize new technology and resources to serve their community

10

100.0%

Libraries offer enhanced access to a variety of information

9

90.0%

Libraries are able to obtain additional funding and other resources to improve library services

7

70.0%

Libraries are able to plan services to meet the future needs of their community

6

60.0%

Increased library staff knowledge and competence in library management and operations was identified as the most important benefit.

Table II.A.13

Ranking of Benefits to Libraries From membership in Library System

Most Important Benefit

Second Most Important Benefit

Third Most Important Benefit

Offer programs to meet the needs of special populations in their community

--

--

--

Libraries have increased management and operations knowledge and competence

5

--

3

Libraries have a materials collection that is current, broad in scope and can better meet the needs of their community

--

5

1

Libraries are better able to utilize new technology and resources to serve their community

2

3

3

Libraries offer enhanced access to a variety of information

2

--

2

Libraries are able to obtain additional funding and other resources to improve library services

1

2

--

Libraries are able to plan services to meet the future needs of their community

--

--

--

Part Two, Section Two | Part Two, Section Two B

Page last modified: March 2, 2011