Library Services and Technology Act
Five Year Plan for Texas
2008 – 2012
Steve Murdoch, the State Demographer at the Texas State Data Center, University of Texas/San Antonio, released an analysis of the 2000 census and its implications for the state in The Population of Texas: Historical Patterns and Future Trends Affecting Education (Steve H. Murdock, Texas A&M University). Some key findings in this study were:
- The population of Texas is likely to continue to grow rapidly
- The ethnic/racial and age compositions of the state, already significantly different from earlier decades, will continue to diversify. The proportion of Hispanic and other current minority populations to the total population will grow and these populations will become a majority in the coming decades
- The average age of the Anglo population base, and overall population base of Texas, will rise, although this pattern is not as true of the minority populations
- The patterns of population change are not the same for the various regions of the state. Texas, which is already an urbanized state (approximately 84 percent of the population in metropolitan areas according to Texas Economic Development, http://www.bidc.state.tx.us/overview/2-2te.htm), will have its largest rate of growth in these areas. The population of the area of the state along the border with Mexico will increase dramatically. Although most areas of Texas will show some growth, in general west and northeast Texas will have the smallest rate of growth (especially rural counties)
- In general, the household income and educational attainment of minority populations are currently lower than for the Anglo population. Texas continues to fall below the national median in household and per capita income, and ranks among the lowest in percent of persons 25 years or older with a high school diploma
- Without changes in educational attainment, the socio-economic implications for the state are significant
These findings are echoed in Murdoch’s 2006 Summary of Trends in Texas. The major trends continue to be dramatic population growth, rapid diversification, and an aging population. As before, there are significant regional differences, with some regions having slower growth, or declines in population, and other regions, especially the eastern urban areas, growing. Texas is now less than 50 percent Anglo and is projected to become a majority Hispanic population in the next two to three decades. The percent of “other” (other than Anglo, Black, or Hispanic) is also growing. The trends based on the 2000 census are happening more quickly than projected. Texas has fallen farther behind the national medians in household and per capita incomes since the previous report and is now 50th in percent of the population 25 years or older with a high school degree. If these trends hold, over the next three to four decades Texas will have decreasing levels of educational attainment, leading to the same serious socio-economic implications for the state projected earlier.
The Online Computer Library Center, Inc. (OCLC) has published several reports on trends in library technology, how libraries are perceived, and other factors. Two reports cited in the previous plan, How Academic Librarians Can Influence Students’ Web-Based Information Choices (OCLC White Paper on the Information Habits of College Students, June 2002) and Trends and Issues for Public Libraries: A Report from the Field (March 2002) showed that people continue to depend on the library for traditional resources, but want web-based information services. They want easier access to library resources, to have more materials available, and a better customer experience. Customers are more diverse, cooperation and partnerships are key for libraries and communities, and libraries face challenges securing adequate funding, recruiting staff, and providing continuous staff training.
The issues identified in those reports are reinforced in the 2003 OCLC Environmental Scan: Pattern Recognition, which identified the following areas and their related trends:
- The social landscape (information consumers frequently choose the Web over the library, are self-sufficient in the use of online resources/services, satisfied with what they find online, and want a seamless world aided by nomadic devices – especially the young)
- The economic landscape (library has funding challenges while user expectations increase, increased emphasis on return on investment, assessment/accountability, these drive collaboration/creating shared efficiencies, finding a place in the larger network of learning resources)
- The technology landscape (many factors driving changes in connectivity/how technology is used)
- The research and learning landscape (growth of e-learning, lifelong learning, many changes in ways faculty/students access/create/use information)
- The library landscape (new roles for libraries, user-centered, funding, accountability, increasingly interconnected environment)
The 2005 OCLC report Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources looked at the habits of information consumers. The report concluded most people begin their information seeking with a search engine, not library sites or library online resources (students may differ), people like to “self-serve,” and they are satisfied with what they find online. Information consumers use the library, but less since they began using the Internet, and anticipate their future use will be flat. People associate libraries with books (this is the library brand), they agree the library is a place to learn, and want a pleasant customer experience.
These trends are reflected in the recent Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) list of the Top Ten Assumptions for the Future of Academic Libraries and Librarians. These assumptions include needing evolving skill sets for librarians to respond to the needs of the changing populations they serve, a demand for faster and greater access to services through technology, changes in how information is delivered, growing use of distance education, an increased emphasis on digitizing collections/digital archives/improved methods of data storage and retrieval, and accountability as the institution is increasingly seen as a business and students increasingly see themselves as customers and consumers.
The Public Library Association Service Responses are evolving as well. The new responses reflect library roles in literacy, education and economic development, electronic access, being a community resource, and providing targeted information/special services.
Another recent report, Long Overdue, A Fresh Look at Public and Leadership Attitudes About Libraries in the 21st Century, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, points to a continuing expectation that public libraries will provide vital information free of charge to anyone who needs it, to have current books, reference materials, knowledgeable staff, programming for children, and facilities to provide gathering places. People consider that computers and Internet access are priorities, and libraries are viewed as key players in our digitized future. Libraries of the future will be challenged to provide more convenient hours, better electronic access to materials, better customer service, and innovative programming.
The Pew Charitable Trust has funded studies of American society, technology, and the Internet (Pew Internet and American Life Project). A 2006 survey showed that about 73 percent of adults are Internet users, and the adoption of high-speed Internet connections at home continues to grow – now at about 42 percent of Americans. However, the percent of Latinos online, especially those with lower educational levels/English proficiency, lags significantly. Other studies point to the growing, newer, and diverse ways Americans are using digital and Internet based products and services. At the same time, there is a large segment that still relies on traditional media for information services and either chooses to not utilize or limits participation in online activities. Libraries are faced with the challenge of providing services to the range of users identified in the various Pew studies.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has a plan, Closing the Gaps, to help address the issues raised by the demographic data. There are four goals to be achieved by 2015:
- Close the Gaps in Participation (in enrollment rates across Texas to add 500,000 more students)
- Close the Gaps in Success (increase by 50 percent the number of identifiable student successes – specifically the number of degrees and certificates – achieved from high quality programs)
- Close the Gaps in Excellence (substantially increase the number of nationally recognized programs and services at colleges and universities in Texas
- Close the Gaps in Research (increase level of federal science and engineering research funding to Texas institutions)
Libraries especially may help prepare students for college, have a role in student success in college, and supply the resources needed for nationally recognized programs.
In FY2001 TSLAC conducted a study of Texas school libraries, Texas School Libraries: Standards, Resources, Services, and Students’ Performance. The study found that students in schools with librarians demonstrate higher performance on the state’s standardized test, Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS), at all educational levels than in schools without librarians. Other library variables were also found to be important for student performance on TAAS and reveal gaps in recommended library funding levels, staffing levels, library resources, and curriculum integration. These findings have been replicated in other states.
In FY2003 TSLAC conducted a study of the future of public library development in Texas. The study has the following recommendations:
- A need to increase efficiencies through larger units of service and options for system structure/governance
- Greater collaboration in a number of ways (encourage joint use libraries where feasible, among systems, among continuing education providers)
- Help libraries maximize funding through state contracts, explore non-traditional sources of funding, and help all libraries take advantage of gifts/grants
- A need to implement standards for libraries – help them achieve standards/link funding to standards
- Ensure statewide access to a significant selection of online resources
Texas continues to rank well below most states in key public library measures (National Center for Educational Statistics). In the 2003 report, Texas ranked 45th in print and audio materials per capita, 44th in circulations per capita, 46th in total operating revenue and 47th in total operating expenditures per capita, 49th in paid staff/librarians per 25,000 population, and 49th in library visits per capita. These measures are at the same level or worse than reported in the last needs assessment.
Using the sources cited above, the following needs that are consistent with the purposes of LSTA were selected for inclusion in the five-year plan:
- Texans need high quality, reliable information to meet their educational and informational needs.
- Texans need enhanced literacy and educational attainment.
- Texas’ diverse populations need a wide variety of responsive, high quality library services.
- Texans need technology based library services to help them achieve economic, educational, and other personal goals.
The overarching purpose of these goals is to build capacity in libraries and to enhance the view of libraries as community/institutional assets.
The criteria for prioritization of the goals are:
- First priority: maintenance of critical programs and services
- Second priority: programs and services to keep libraries viable in the 21st century
- Third priority: enriching programs and services
Based on these needs, the following goals have been identified.
- Provide Texans with access to a broad range of library materials.
- Provide assistance to libraries to support literacy and educational attainment in their communities.
- Assist libraries in providing programs and services to meet the needs of their populations.
- Assist libraries with technology to serve the information needs of Texans.