Two key variables drive the Texas State Library and Archives Commission's efforts to effectively serve Texans: the state's high poverty rate and rapid population growth. The high poverty rate, coupled with a low per capita income, translate into sparse local support for archives, libraries, and records management services. Texas has the tenth-highest poverty rate in the U.S. In per capita income, Texas ranks 29th nationally, and is 46th in terms of per capita support for public libraries. Rapid population growth and low levels of local support intensify the pressure for archivists, librarians, and records managers to do more with less.
Between 1990 and 1999, Texas was the second fastest-growing state in the nation, with a 14 percent total population increase. The state's population is expected to continue this rapid growth over the next five years, with a total projected population of 22.3 million by the year 2005. An estimated 2.2 million Texans will be over the age of 65 in 2005. This growth will result from an increase in the number of Texans reaching retirement age and an influx of older adults retiring to Texas. The agency anticipates an increased demand for services from the Talking Book Program due to the growth of this population.
These trends underscore the need for the agency's specialized training and consulting services. Considering the state's vast distances and rural demographics, these factors also highlight the need for innovative delivery strategies, such as teleconferencing, and make Texas ideally-suited for collaborative solutions. One such collaborative solution is the agency's State Records Center. Use of this low cost, high density storage facility enables state agencies to achieve almost $50 million in cost avoidance. Another collaborative solution is the statewide database service, which puts vast storehouses of knowledge on the patron's desktop -- even in the most remote Texas locales. This service erases distance barriers and levels the playing field, so all Texans have access to the same resources.
Moreover, buying databases at the state level enables the Library and Archives Commission to serve Texans at a much lower cost than local communities would pay if they purchased these products on their own. In FY1999, these online database subscriptions would have cost individual libraries more than $20 million, 10 times their actual cost to the State. So for every dollar spent, the State received a $10 return on investment.
These innovative approaches exemplify the agency's continuing efforts to partner with archivists, librarians, and records managers statewide to provide the best, most cost-effective services for all Texans.