Texas Public Library Standards
In January 1998, the TLA ad hoc Committee on Public Library Standards was created by the TLA Executive Board and charged with the creation of qualitative and quantitative standards for public libraries in Texas. The Texas Library Association (TLA) Council approved those standards on April 24, 2002 and were accepted by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) on May 14, 2002.
In 2003, the State Library and Archives Commission (Peggy D. Rudd, Director and Librarian) and the Texas Library Association (Eva Poole, President) established the Joint TSLAC/TLA Task Force on Public Library Standards and Accreditation. Its charge included evaluation of the 2002 Texas Public Library Standards for their timeliness, comprehensiveness, and appropriateness and to recommend any needed changes.
The purpose of these standards is to promote quality library service to all Texans, to raise the expectations of library clientele, and to provide an authoritative document to which library administrators and supporters may refer when justifying requests for funds. Standards are a way to measure and growth whereas Minimum Criteria are required for System Membership.
The Joint TSLAC/TLA Task Force on Public Library Standards and Accreditation has affirmed the following imperatives:
- Value libraries as a sign of a civilized society.
- Value all public libraries and their importance as community resources and as a reflection of our cultural heritage.
- Value the diversity and uniqueness of libraries across the state.
- Value the needs of our communities.
- Value intellectual freedom and access to information.
- Value the skills, talents, and contributions of library staff.
Some standards may be applied across the board; however most vary by population groupings and levels of service in order to make the standards relevant and meaningful for all public libraries. These standards should be implemented at the local level.
There are no separate standards relating to branches or separate service outlets. Library systems with multiple outlets, taxing district libraries, and joint school/public libraries are encouraged to use the standards to evaluate individually each facility and its services, keeping in mind the uniqueness of the population served from that location.
Levels of Service
The Task Force elected to recognize three levels of service: basic, enhanced, and comprehensive. The enhanced level builds upon the basic and the comprehensive upon the enhanced. Libraries that achieve the enhanced or comprehensive level will be those where improvement is a proactive rather than reactive process.
To support progress and improved performance, the Task Force has recommended that Loan Star Libraries Grant allocations be directed at initiatives that will improve public library achievement in meeting standards.
As an aid in planning for evaluation, a checklist of standards is included, as Appendix A. The checklist will allow libraries to estimate their status at a glance and will provide a concise overview for presentation to advisory boards, city councils, and other interested parties.
To remain effective, this document must evolve to mirror the vitality of good public library service and to continue to raise the bar for improving Texas libraries. Accordingly, the Task Force recommends that the TSLAC, Library Development Division evaluate this set of standards at two-year intervals. If revision is deemed necessary, a Joint Task Force should be appointed to conduct a review and revision process and to recommend changes to TSLAC and TLA.