Impact of Federal Statutes and Regulations
A. Historical Involvement of Federal Government
In the 1930s, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission became an affiliate of the Library of Congress' National Library Service (NLS) for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Today, the Talking Book Program serves almost 21,000 Texans, using cassette and Braille books, catalogs, and playback equipment supplied by NLS.
From 1956 through 1998, the Library and Archives Commission received federal funds under the Library Services Act and its successor, the Library Services and Construction Act (LSCA), to assist local public library development. During those years, the agency used federal funds to advance a statewide interlibrary loan system, fund the Texas Library System, provide public library construction projects, promote library services to the disadvantaged, and support other projects which demonstrated or fostered improved library service and the sharing of materials among libraries. LSCA funds are no longer available from the federal government.
In 1964, the Library and Archives Commission was designated as a regional depository for federal documents, in accordance with 44 United States Code 1912. This agency is one of only two regional depositories in the state, and serves the 70 Texas libraries that are selective depositories. Selective depositories are libraries which receive only a portion of documents distributed by the U.S. Government Printing Office's Depository Library Program and retain the documents for a limited period of time. Regional depositories receive all publication distributed through the Program and retain them permanently.
In 1996, the Library Services and Construction Act was replaced by Public Law 104-208, the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). The Act moved library funding out of the U.S. Department of Education to a newly reorganized Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). While several projects funded under LSCA continued with LSTA funds, the new Act places greater emphasis on programs that support technology in libraries and promote cooperative efforts between libraries, including school, academic, and research libraries. LSTA funding also supports library services to people of diverse geographic, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds.
B. Description of Current Federal Activities
Under the Library Services and Technology Act, federal dollars can fund only 66 percent of program costs, and require a 34 percent matching investment. Administrative costs are limited to four percent of federal funds received; the remaining 96 percent must be used for direct projects or grants. In FY2000, agency staff participated in training to learn outcome-based evaluation methodologies and will begin applying those methods to selected grant projects during FY2001.
The Federal Financial Assistance Management Improvement Act of 1999 allows the agency the opportunity to provide timely input for changes to the federal grant process.
The Schools and Libraries Universal Service Program (commonly called E-Rate) was established as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 with the express purpose of providing affordable access to telecommunications services for all eligible schools and libraries, particularly those in rural and inner-city areas. This federal program provides discounts of 20-90 percent on telecommunications services, Internet access, and internal connections. Since 1997, Texas public libraries have been required to submit a technology plan to the Library and Archives Commission for approval in order to be eligible to receive the federal discount. Agency staff provide assistance to public libraries in developing, revising, and certifying the technology plans, and ensuring that libraries are aware of the available discounts. In FY1999, 124 public libraries received $1.5 million in discounted services. In FY2000, 143 public libraries received $1.9 million in federal discounts.
As one of 53 regional depositories for federal government publications, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission permanently maintains and provides free access to more than 1.4 million items produced by the U.S. Government Printing Office. These items are distributed by the federal Superintendent of Documents under the authority of the Depository Library Act. The Superintendent also sets minimum standards for maintaining these documents and makes periodic on-site reviews of the agency's collection and services.
Electronic technology is changing the role of government depository libraries. Regulations and amendments to the Paperwork Reduction Act, Printing Act, Depository Library Act, and the Government Printing Office Electronic Information Access Enhancement Act of 1993 (Public Law 103-40) have extended the definition of government publications beyond paper formats. The federal government is now providing an increasing amount of information in electronic formats, and often publishes exclusively in electronic form.
In December 1996, the Government Printing Office (GPO) issued their Study to Identify Measures Necessary for a Successful Transition to a More Electronic Federal Depository Library Program as required by legislation. In this document, GPO outlined several principles fundamental to a depository library system, regardless of format. These principles include:
- The government has an obligation to guarantee the authenticity and integrity of its information.
- The government has an obligation to preserve its information.
The study set a number of goals to ensure that electronic government resources receive treatment similar to other formats. The study also called for an increased investment in federal depository libraries to guarantee continuing public access to electronic resources.
The migration to electronic resources has skyrocketed in Texas government. Almost all state agencies have Web sites, and many publications are issued on the Internet instead of in print. Some agencies are dropping print publication altogether in favor of online distribution to reduce publication costs and increase access to the information.
The agency's Texas Records and Information Locator service (trAIL) (http://www.tsl.texas.gov/trail), provides one of the fundamental principles of a depository system regarding electronic resources; that of public access. However, effective methods of authenticity, integrity, and preservation of these electronic resources have not been secured. The Government Printing Office has developed a pilot digital storage facility for electronic resources and is poised to begin deploying this repository. The Library and Archives Commission will examine this and other efforts for digital preservation and authenticity, and develop an effective strategy to address these issues in partnership with depository libraries. Digital preservation will afford Texans permanent and comprehensive access to government resources.
C. Anticipated Impact of Future Federal Actions
Passage of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) removed a great deal of uncertainty about future federal assistance for libraries. LSTA offers more program flexibility and requires less paperwork and reporting than previous programs. However, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has been slow to develop guidelines and rules for regulating use of LSTA funds. IMLS also now requires libraries to report on program activity by populations served, and in accordance with LSTA priorities. In response, agency staff substantially retooled grant administration procedures. Staff are also preparing for a five-year evaluation of LSTA activities, due in 2002.
The Government Printing Office continues to move toward a more electronic federal depository library program; the number of paper products will continue to diminish. Libraries will increasingly be required to purchase robust telecommunications and Internet access services, and provide more computer hardware and software to meet public demand for access to networked government information.
Depository libraries continue to serve as centers for access to federal government information. The Federal Documents Library Program provides access to both tangible and electronic publications not freely available.
The Government Printing Office (GPO) has recently begun developing a system for providing permanent public access to electronic versions of federal government information. Participants involved in the development include government agencies, the National Archives, and the depository library community.
GPO will continue to distribute electronic items through the depository program. The Library and Archives Commission currently owns more than 2,000 such items. Besides storage requirements to provide the service, the agency must also provide adequate computer workstations for the public to use while accessing the information. The minimum requirements for public workstations issued by GPO continue to reflect the cutting edge of technology and will require the agency to upgrade hardware and software periodically to meet the requirements.