Beyond 2000: Books, Bytes, and Beginnings


Technological Developments

A. Impact of Technology on Current Operations

Automated and networked applications continue to be essential elements in the delivery of services to clients.

Access to information

Advances in technology have vastly improved the ability of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission to provide services to the public.

The agency has taken advantage of the Internet and Web-based services to provide information to more customers. The agency provides an increasing number of its documents on its Web site (www.tsl.texas.gov), including the Texas Public Library Statistics and the Texas Library Jobline. The number of electronic documents received by the Federal Documents Depository continues to increase, and the federal government intends to make an increasing number of documents available only in electronic format. Texas documents are available increasingly online. In response to a mandate from the 74th (1995) Legislature to index and make available all electronic state government publications, the agency launched the Texas Records and Information Locator, or TRAIL, which provides one-stop access to electronic state publications (http://www.tsl.texas.gov/trail).

Talking Book Program patrons can access and download almost 3,000 Braille titles in electronic format through a password-protected Internet connection, thanks to the National Library Service's (NLS) Web-Braille system. NLS launched the Web-Braille system late in 1999. NLS hopes to expand the service to also include the current selection of national magazines available in embossed Braille format.

In 1997, the 75th Legislature transferred the TexShare program from the Higher Education Coordinating Board to this agency. TexShare's Web site (www.texshare.edu) supports TexShare programs with services such as grant applications available for downloading, along with lists of TexShare program participants. There is extensive text information on the TexShare Web site as well.

TexShare also provides four online databases, which offer more than 1,000 full-text titles. TexShare databases are loaded on a server at the University of Texas at Austin. The University also delivers technical support for TexShare, under contract with the agency.

To complement TexShare's databases for academic libraries, the State Library provides 80 databases to public libraries and Texas state agencies via TSEL, the Texas State Electronic Library. TSEL offers full-text articles from 2,000 journals, as well as eleven Texas newspapers.

TexShare and TSEL databases are available even in the most remote, rural locations across Texas. Students, consumers, and researchers rely on these services for current, accurate information on health, technology, business, and a host of other topics.

The agency's ongoing efforts to provide increasing amounts of information in electronic format on the agency Web site have enabled thousands of teachers, school children, and other citizens to instantly find the information they need, with less direct intervention by agency reference staff. In October 1998, staff created an intermediary Web page featuring answers to "Frequently Asked Questions," links to other internal pages with value-added census and legislative data, and links to outside sources providing commonly requested information. Since its creation, hits to this intermediary page have increased more than ten-fold.

Staff is also using improved automation information technology to locate additional information resources outside the agency, which in turn allows them to answer an increasing number of reference questions by referring clients directly to those readily available electronic resources.

The complexity of the Internet continues to grow, and more information is becoming available electronically; hence, efforts have been made to organize and index resources for easier reference. TRAIL indexes and provides searching of more than 5,000 Texas state electronic publications, allowing state agency staff to find information produced by other agencies. TRAIL also helps the general public find information about state government.

TRAIL currently provides centralized access to electronic information for over 150 state agencies and academic institutions.

Another way the agency has organized electronic information is the Library Catalog of Texas State Agencies, an automated catalog of the Library and Archives Commission and participating state agencies. All state agency libraries can add their records to this shared resource of government information made available worldwide through this agency's Internet servers.

Agency staff is also making improvements to the search capabilities of the Library and Archives Commission's most in-demand online archival and reference materials. The outreach to libraries and state and local governments also increases due to improved online registration methods for statewide training events. Other changes include improved Web site design and navigational elements that focus on the agency's customers and on the services the agency provides.

Because the agency recognized the value of providing information and services via the Internet, it created a full-time Webmaster position to oversee Web development. The Webmaster and members of a cross-divisional Web team have collaborated to analyze, design, restructure and build a new agency Web site launched in April 2000.

The Library and Archives Commission's increased Web presence has raised new security, maintenance, and training issues agency-wide. The rapid pace of technological change requires frequent software upgrades to maintain functionality. Information Resources Technologies staff must continue to address new issues in security, as new software and services create new possibilities for abuse of the systems.

The Texas Legislature recognized the importance of the Internet in providing services to Texas citizens, and passed more than 30 initiatives in the last session for organizing, securing and improving state Web sites and for improving customer service. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission continues to address and comply with these legislative initiatives.

Efficiency of operation

The Library and Archives Commission uses technological advances to streamline and automate many of its services, saving both time and money for the organization and its patrons.

The automation of many of the agency's functions provides patrons another method by which to access its services. The agency Web site offers incredible amounts of information 24 hours a day. Patrons may e-mail questions or requests for service to any of the program divisions. The agency has seen a shift in reference requests from primarily mail requests to e-mail requests. E-mail requests increased 45.6 percent in FY1999 over FY1998, while U.S. postal service requests decreased 2.3 percent. This shift has enabled more reference questions to be answered successfully with less direct staff involvement. Staff time conserved in this way will continue to be devoted to compiling and mounting additional online information resources on the agency's Web site. In this way, the agency is using Internet technology to accomplish more of its goals.

The automation of services has also created easier reporting procedures for both patrons and staff. This fiscal year, public librarians will, for the first time, be able to complete and submit their annual reports via the Web. It is hoped that this will make the process easier for the librarians and decrease mathematical errors. Within the last biennium, reporting capabilities between the Talking Book Program and its parent organization, the National Library Service at the Library of Congress, have shifted from paper to electronic means, saving time and improving accuracy.

Over 55 percent of the records in storage at the State and Local Records Center are now managed in an automated system, and clients are able to enter information about their records from their own computers and submit the information by way of the Internet.

The agency utilizes technology to efficiently automate and manage many of its functions, streamlining agency procedures. Staff throughout the Talking Book Program (TBP) division rely on ACCESS, its automated bibliographic and circulation system, to track the status and location of materials and access patron account information. Reader Consultants in TBP's public service unit search Web-BLND, the Library of Congress' Web-based catalog of books available in braille and audio formats, and use other reference resources via the Internet to assist patrons quickly.

The Library Catalog of Texas State Agencies is one part of an integrated library system that enables users to efficiently search and locate library materials. It automates the search, purchase, cataloging, and circulation of materials, as well as patron registration and report generation, while allowing the libraries to maintain their standardized search vocabulary electronically.

All major library materials jobbers are accessed electronically so that library materials are ordered and confirmed, and missing items claimed online. With the automation by the General Services Commission of its procurement tools and databases, many areas of procurement are now automated. Cataloging, already highly automated, continues to see an increase in the amount of electronic documentation available.

The Federal Documents Depository Program uses password protected areas of the Texas State Electronic Library to handle administrative activities, particularly the distribution of disposal lists for federal publications.

The agency is moving a number of its current applications and services to the Linux open-source operating system. The move to this environment has reduced the cost of operating systems, development tools, and hardware by reducing the number of vendor-specific operating systems.

New services

Technological advances within the agency create new opportunities for service that benefit Texas citizens, state and local governments, and Texas libraries and librarians. The access to service through the Internet on the Library and Archives Commission's Web site, as well as e-mail access to the agency's divisions, has been a tremendous benefit to customers. With the launch of the new agency Web-site in April 2000, users found the interface easier to use and navigate.

In 1999, staff migrated the Library Catalog of Texas State Agencies to a Web-based system that supports links to actual documents. The catalog is now available worldwide.

The Texas Records and Information Locator service (TRAIL) has been enhanced so that it will:

  • Identify public information resources in state government,
  • Describe the information available in those resources,
  • Provide a direct link to that information,
  • Be available from a Z39.50 server.

As more agency clientele use electronic mail and the Internet, the number of requests for information and consulting services through these media grows. Web-based registration for in-person workshops has been a welcome service for clientele. In addition to online registration, clients automatically receive a confirmation notice and are able to see who is registered for each event.

As Internet and electronic services become more prevalent in the library community, the need for adequate technology training also grows. All of the staff in the Continuing Education and Consulting (CE/C) Department aid in training Texas librarians in the use of various online and database resources. This department now includes three staff members well-versed in various aspects of technology. One and one-half consultants help librarians in the areas of telecommunications, integrated library systems, and Web-based services. The third consultant specifically deals with various distance learning opportunities and technologies.

The CE/C Department already provides statewide access to library-related satellite videoconferences, and is beginning to create customized training using the Web. For their Small Library Management Program, the group is currently creating online training sessions to be taken before and after the two-day in-person workshop.

CE/C staff is also continuing to investigate the possibility of creating a receive site for satellite and network-based videoconferencing. The Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund Board is providing initial funding for Texas libraries to implement distance learning capabilities. Many libraries already have or will take advantage of this opportunity. With the availability of this service within the agency, divisions could have face-to-face meetings with clients, provide continuing education to targeted audiences, provide consulting on a one-on-one basis, and provide monthly updates to their clients.

The 76th Legislature authorized public libraries to join TexShare, so the agency's next challenge is to integrate TexShare and Texas State Electronic Library database offerings. This integration will make comparable databases available for all Texans who use academic and public libraries statewide. The agency is also researching ways to make all of these online databases available to authorized library customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In addition to improving Web-based information and services to the agency's external clients, the agency is also laying the groundwork to improve its internal Web-based information and communications for its employees. By establishing a networked intranet environment, employees will be able to post, maintain, and access policy and procedural information with just a few clicks of a mouse. Plans for building and maintaining an agency intranet are in progress within the agency.

Partnerships

The Library and Archives Commission utilizes partnerships and collaborations with other entities to strengthen its technology-based services and assist other state agencies.

The development and growth of agency services, such as TRAIL and the Library Catalog of Texas State Agencies, continue to increase the Library and Archives Commission's liaison and collaboration with other state agencies.

TRAIL organizes the wealth of electronic information produced by state agencies and academic institutions and enables users to efficiently find information about state government.

The Library Catalog of Texas is a shared resource of government information, and all state agency libraries are eligible to participate by adding their records to the catalog. The State Law Library, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission Library, Department of Information Resources Library, the Comptroller of Public Accounts Technical Library, the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission, and the Legislative Reference Library add their records to this catalog, which allows users to quickly search and locate library materials.

The agency is also participating as a founding member in the Texas Archival Resources Online Project (TARO). Funded by the Texas Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund at a cost of over $200,000, the 18-month Phase I will convert approximately 46,000 pages of archival finding aids from participating archival repositories into a format meant especially for the Internet. The project will establish an online repository of archival resources for use by every Texan who has access to the Internet. The initial content of the repository will be a database consisting of collection descriptions, or "finding aids," that the member archives and libraries create to assist users in locating information in their holdings. In cooperation with the Library of Congress, the archival community has developed a standard method of creating online finding aids; libraries, archives, and museums around the world are adopting this standard. Initially, this database will reside on a server at the University of Texas at Austin campus. Over 12,000 of the 46,000 pages of finding aids will be from the Texas State Archives.

The Library and Archives Commission also works with the Records Management Interagency Coordinating Council to study the technological aspects of records management.

Partnerships allow the agency to accomplish more of its technology-based goals, and strengthen the effectiveness of state government.

B. Degree of Agency Automation and Telecommunications

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission supports fourteen applications and services, 35 servers (including six minicomputers), over 250 desktop computers, a TCP/IP-based Ethernet local area network (LAN), and full service connectivity to the LAN, TEX-AN, and Internet. The agency router in the Lorenzo de Zavala Building is connected to CAPnet via a fiber optic line which is currently providing 10 megabits-per-second access. The State and Local Records Management Center and Talking Book facilities at 4400 Shoal Creek Boulevard are each connected to the Lorenzo de Zavala Building by T-1 lines.

The agency maintains database applications to:

  • support the management of the Talking Book Program;
  • support the management of the flow of records to and from state agencies;
  • provide detailed financial information required to manage the agency's financial resources; and
  • track the use of collections in the Archives and Information Services Division.

The agency also uses the unified state systems provided by the Comptroller, including:

  • Uniform State Personnel System for the management of personnel and payroll;
  • Uniform State Accounting System for accounting and management of funds; and
  • Uniform State Resources/Property Management for inventory control.

Consortium services include the Integrated Library System and the cataloging and Interlibrary Loan service.

The Integrated Library System is a non-profit consortium using SIRSI, Inc. Unicorn Library System to provide a bibliographic database for acquiring, cataloging, searching, and circulating books, documents, and other materials. The agency makes this application, the Library Catalog of Texas State Agencies, available to other state agencies at a minimal cost. The agency encourages the creation of a single catalog that would include all library collections maintained by state agencies.

Cataloging and Interlibrary Loan services are purchased from OCLC and provide cataloging and other related library services for the agency and state agency partners.

LAN and Internet services include:

  • the Texas State Electronic Library (TSEL) and the agency Web site that make available collections of information from a growing number of libraries, state agencies, and commercial sources, as well as extensive indexes to the holdings in the agency's various collections and value-added data compiled by staff;
  • the Texas Records and Information Locator service (TRAIL), a commercial application to gather and index the electronic documents of all state agencies that are made available via electronic networks;
  • electronic mail and network services; and
  • desktop backup services for online backups of all systems on the network.

C. Impact of Anticipated Technological Advances

Over the next five to ten years, all of the current services of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission will increasingly be performed and delivered electronically. These changes will affect not only how the agency does business, but will also affect the agency's client groups, their environments, and how they do business. For many organizations, information is a tool, and the shift from paper to electronic information is merely an improvement in their access to the tool. For libraries and archives, whose business is obtaining, organizing, storing, and providing information, the shift from paper to electronic information is both significant and crucial.

Access to information

Technological advances will continue to create new opportunities and challenges for the Library and Archives Commission in providing information to Texas citizens, state and local government, and Texas libraries and librarians.

Commercial, state and federal government publishing, and government record-keeping at all levels, will continue to move to online, network-accessible formats. Pricing and licensing agreements with publishers will remain unstable and difficult to negotiate for a number of years, until authors, publishers, etc., have established procedures and standards for online market behavior.

As more people access the agency's holdings electronically, requests for photocopies and reference assistance - by mail, phone, e-mail, and personal visits - will increase until all materials are available for printing online. Users accustomed to accessing current materials in electronic format will expect similar access to the older materials.

The Texas State Library and Archive Commission's acceptance of electronic records as archival materials continues to be an issue. Currently, agencies choosing to create archival records electronically must themselves also provide continuing maintenance and access to the records unless the records can be reformatted to paper or microfilm.

Other approaches to electronic records are under development. For example, the Electronic Records Research Committee of the Records Management Interagency Coordinating Council has published recommendations for creating and maintaining electronic records for as long as they have value.

Commercial, networked information providers are challenging the public libraries' information provider roles. Information needed for children's schoolwork, along with medical, legal, financial, and home maintenance information for adults, traditionally provided by public libraries, is already being provided by Internet businesses. Public libraries continue to develop their electronic roles. These roles include electronic publishing of community resources, providing support for distance learning, subsidized access to online information resources, continuing education, providing a place for people to do teleconferencing, and computer-based training. Assuring information access to Texans who currently don't have access to these resources at home or work continues to be a basic responsibility of public libraries.

Efficiency of operation

Improvements in Web-based technologies offer limitless opportunities to increase cost avoidance while streamlining agency procedures and maintaining a high level of customer service. As more services are moved to automated systems, and the business environment continues to shift to Web-based systems, the agency's human resources must also adapt to maintain effectiveness.

A pilot project explored the feasibility of digitally imaging historical documents and providing the information online. Imaging documents not only potentially saves the agency money, but also helps preserve historic documents by reducing handling by staff and patrons. Both agency staff and patrons received the project favorably. The agency received limited funding in FY 2000-2001 for some additional equipment needed to begin the project. However, a large-scale implementation of such a project is not feasible without additional staff resources. Because of the forecast cost avoidance in the long-term, the agency plans to implement portions of the scanning project, relying primarily on volunteer labor.

Over 90 percent of the public libraries in Texas have Internet connections, but increased bandwidth and sophistication of those connections is needed. As more people use the Internet to access services, the need for electronic services, training, and support increases, thus straining the agency's technical and human resources. Widespread connectivity will allow new methods of communicating among libraries and create opportunities for increased resource sharing, such as more effective interlibrary lending of paper materials, substitution of electronic for paper materials, and sharing human resources (to answer reference questions on a distributed basis statewide, for example).

New services

Technology also offers the Library and Archives Commission new and improved opportunities for service to the agency's clientele.

Connectivity of client groups continues to increase, and transactions with client groups are expected to increasingly shift from paper mail, telephone, and personal contacts to electronic transactions. Electronic discussion groups, online training, computer-based training, and, eventually, teleconferencing, will replace some meetings and workshops.

The Talking Book Program is planning to make direct access to its in-house ACCESS system possible through the Internet so that patrons can select books and review account information on their own.

Within this biennium, Continuing Education and Consulting staff hopes to use the Web to provide additional information and learning experiences that would enhance current in-person workshops. Stand alone Web-based continuing education opportunities will also be created. Currently, Web-based courseware software packages are being investigated and evaluated; it is hoped that the agency will be able to implement a server to support this type of software.

Partnerships

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission will continue to embrace partnerships as tools to enhance its services to the citizens of Texas. Technological advances have enabled more productive collaborations between entities due to improved communications systems and software developments.

Network technology has opened up possibilities of shared services for client groups who where once served by separate agencies such as the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and Texas Education Agency. These collaborations are expected to continue to flourish.

Partnerships will continue to play an important role in the conversion of documents to an electronic or Internet format. The agency anticipates continued involvement with initiatives like the Texas Archival Resources Online Project (TARO).

The University of North Texas Library has formed a partnership with the Office of the Secretary of State to preserve and make permanently available back issues of the Texas Register. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission supports this partnership as an exemplary model of interagency collaboration.

D. Direction of Agency Automation and Telecommunications

The information resources strategy for the next five years will address the following:

  • Adopt a Windows-based desktop as an agency standard;
  • Increase user direct access to services via Web-based applications;
  • Increase telecommunication bandwidth to support user direct access;
  • Adopt the open-source Linux operating system as an agency standard;
  • Continue implementation of security technologies and standards;
  • Implement teleconferencing capabilities; and
  • Adopt planning and training standards and technologies to maximize staff productivity.

Adopt a Windows-based desktop as an agency standard

The agency made the decision to adopt the Windows-based desktop as an agency standard to reduce the range of hardware, address problems in acquiring basic software and hardware components, and reduce the workload on the 1.75 FTEs who support the 250 desktop systems. The agency successfully used Macintosh computers for years. Growing problems in obtaining basic software and maintaining compatibility with Windows-based software contributed to the agency's decision to standardize to a Windows-based desktop. Standardization is expected to decrease the workload on the staff who support the desktop systems.

Increase user direct access to services via Web-based applications

The State and Local Records Management application currently allows state agency users to enter information related to the storage of their records over Internet-based e-mail. Moving applications such as this to Web-based systems will provide more and better services to users without increasing staff resources. External customers access the agency's networked services via the Internet; therefore, the Library and Archives Commission's emphasis on Web functionality as an effective delivery method will continue to be a primary strategy.

Increase telecommunication bandwidth to support user direct access

The growth of commercial activities on the Internet results in users demanding more functionality through online services, creating a need for faster, larger networked servers and increased network bandwidth. The agency currently receives telecommunications services (voice, data, and Internet) from the General Services Commission, Southwestern Bell, and Time Warner Cable. Due to the implementation of TRAIL, the publication of more of the agency's collections on the Internet, and the increased number of Internet users, the need for bandwidth to TEX-AN and the Internet has increased. The initial installation of fiber optic access to these services included three fibers, but only one fiber is currently activated. The activation of the remaining two fibers will provide three times the current 10 megabit access. If additional capacity is required, each of the three fibers can be expanded to 100 megabits, depending on the vendor's capacity to support this expansion.

Given the nature of the documents in the State Archives, digital versions of these documents will be exceptionally large files. For example, one new State Archives service under discussion would require online access to a database exceeding 18 gigabytes of data. The movement of these files over internal networks and onto the Internet for customer use will require continued expansion of the network bandwidth.

Adopt the open-source Linux operating system as an agency standard

The agency is moving away from vendor-specific UNIX and SCO and has adopted the open-source Linux operating system as an agency standard. The Linux operating system is more cost efficient and provides more hardware independence than UNIX and SCO. This move will reduce the hardware variations which the technical staff must support.

Continue implementation of security technologies and standards

The divisions of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission continue to expand their use of the Internet to provide access to a growing number of applications and materials to external customers. The external access to applications and services and increased electronic government transactions pose potential security threats to the integrity of the agency's information resources. Although most of the agency's information is public information, effective methods of preventing unauthorized access or modification of agency information are required. The agency will continue to implement appropriate and effective security standards as provided by the Texas Department of Information Resources and implement effective technologies to ensure the safety of the agency's information resources.

Implement teleconferencing capabilities

As connectivity of client groups increases, more transactions with client groups will shift from paper mail, telephone, and personal contacts to electronic transactions. Electronic discussion groups, online training, computer-based training, and, eventually, teleconferencing will replace some meetings and workshops. Teleconferencing will potentially become a key method of delivering client group training for some of the agency's programs. The agency will continue to research its options and position itself to maximize the benefit from this technology through individual as well as cooperative efforts with other organizations.

Adopt planning and training standards and technologies to maximize staff productivity

Between 1990 and 2000, the agency increased its number of desktop computer systems by over 525 percent. The number of applications accessed through these systems has also significantly increased. The number of authorized FTEs in the Information Resources Technologies Division, however, has increased by only 19 percent over the same period (from 11 to 13).

The agency's client groups are increasing in number, as well as their level of technical and Internet sophistication; therefore, expectations for expansion of Web-based services are high and continue to increase. Equipment upgrades and increased staff resources are needed to address the changing and growing needs of the agency's customers.

Networked technology has become a necessity for doing business. The reliability of that service is now essential. The agency is at a critical point for envisioning and developing more effective uses of networked services. To effectively manage the shift to Web-based services, the agency's Information Resources Technologies Division will implement standards and technologies to maximize productivity. Effective communication with customers will also promote a better understanding of the realistic limitations of the agency's resources to address technology growth. The adoption and implementation of standards and related technologies will maximize productivity; however, the agency priorities will require additional funding for equipment upgrades, staff, and technical training.

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Agency Strategic Plan Table of Contents


Economic Variables

Page last modified: July 1, 2011