Opportunities for Improvement
A. Meeting Legal Requirements and Serving Critical Populations
Audits, program evaluations, and performance reviews of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by state and federal oversight agencies have been generally favorable. Identified problems are addressed promptly with particular attention given to improving systems for reporting program performance.
A major change in the agency's client populations occurred with the passage of House Bill 2721 by the 75th Legislature (1997), which established the TexShare academic library resource sharing consortium under the administration of this agency. While the agency has always provided some services to the academic community, the passage of House Bill 2721 means that academic library customers are officially included in the list of constituent groups served by the Library and Archives Commission.
Passage of House Bill 1433 by the 76th Legislature (1999) further expanded TexShare to include public libraries. The expansion of TexShare services to public libraries has been a significant challenge to agency staff. Effectively meeting this challenge will require additional staff resources in the future.
The Library and Archives Commission is responsible for providing library service to Texans with disabilities, and those who qualify for service due to a visual, physical, or reading disability comprise a critical population that is underserved. The Talking Book Program can serve about nine percent of the population estimated as being eligible for service with current levels of staffing and funding. Increased funding for travel and outreach is necessary to promote the service throughout the state. Additionally, more staff members are needed to assist patrons and duplicate cassette materials on demand, in order to improve response times and expand the scope of the service.
The 74th Legislature (1995) mandated that the Library and Archives Commission develop new standards for school library services. The agency was not appropriated additional staff or other resources to carry out this directive; however, the agency was able - through collaboration with educators, parents, and librarians - to develop and adopt Standards and Guidelines for School Library Programs in July 1997.
Standards provide guidance to school administrators on how to best structure and manage their school library programs. The goal is to maximize a school's effectiveness in teaching students the skills needed to become competent seekers and users of information, and to become dedicated lifelong learners. In order to ensure the effectiveness and utility of these standards for the schools, the agency needs additional staff resources to provide the same level of consulting, continuing education, and data collection support services to the school libraries that are now provided to the public libraries. These services are specific and distinct from the support that educators - including school librarians - receive from the Texas Education Agency.
While school librarians have always been clients under the agency's general mission, more school librarians and administrators are looking first to the Library and Archives Commission for guidance, assistance, and referral. Small improvements in school libraries are being reported, but there is need for much greater improvement.
The 76th Legislature (1999) passed the first-ever funding for school library materials. The funds for this program are included in the Texas Education Agency budget, which provides matching grants of 25 cents for every dollar spent by local districts for school library materials, for a total possible match of 25 cents per pupil. Funding to the local district is contingent on compliance with some aspects of the school library standards established by the Library and Archives Commission.
B. Agency Characteristics Requiring Improvement
Need for human resources development
The agency does not have adequate human resources to carry out its programs and to meet its goals and objectives. However, the problem is not merely one of inadequate authorized staffing levels. It has also been increasingly difficult to recruit and to retain qualified staff for the agency's authorized positions. Low staff morale caused by meager incentives and inadequate opportunities for professional development contributes to a high level of turnover. Recruitment is hampered by the agency's inability to offer competitive salaries in an increasingly tight labor market, particularly in positions requiring skills and experience related to information technology. Many agency positions that were previously clerk positions now require staff to operate sophisticated computerized inventory systems. However, there are currently no state classifications for these duties, and as a result, salaries have remained static, while required skill levels have increased.
The cap on funds for travel also impacts the agency's ability to provide training to staff. More resources are needed so that management can place a greater emphasis on career development opportunities. The increase in the Library Assistant and Librarian Salary Classification Schedule in 1999 has helped the agency stay more competitive in this market, but the entry-level salary for professional librarians is still less than that recommended by the Texas Library Association ($25,932 vs. $28,000).
Need for improved technological resources
To identify, index, and provide printed and electronic information resources to the public, increased investment in technology is necessary. Improved computing and telecommunication capabilities are essential to the management of the explosion of information resources, in both printed and electronic media, and for the agency to maximize the use and sharing of its existing information resources. State or grant funds must be procured to provide the installation of high-speed data lines at the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center in Liberty, Texas. This will allow each staff member, as well as the general public, on-site access to the Internet.
Technological resources are needed to improve the agency's ability to deliver assistance and training through distance education. The agency is currently limited to Web-based courses, telephone-delivered courses, and satellite courses purchased from third parties. The ability to provide interactive training to multiple locations at one time maximizes the effectiveness of the agency's training resources.
Need for effective collaboration with constituent groups
The Library and Archives Commission enjoys effective communication with most of its client groups. A continued effort to build upon improved communications with citizens groups, professional associations, client groups, and advisory committees will help form ties and alliances for support of agency initiatives. This collaborative process has been enhanced by productive working relations with such groups as the Texas Library Association, library system coordinators, public library directors, and others to develop support for agency programs. In developing the Standards and Guidelines for School Library Programs, the agency also developed relationships within the education community, especially the Association of Texas Professional Educators and Texas Education Agency, and regional Education Service Centers. Further collaboration with these groups is paramount in shaping the development of agency policies and programs during the coming years.
Additional opportunities for collaboration are being pursued with public and private organizations that also serve the agency's constituent groups. Examples include partnerships with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund Board, and Libraries for the Future. Each of these organizations provides funding for public libraries but looks to this agency for major support of their projects.
C. Key obstacles
The growth, value, and use of the agency's collections are restricted by the lack of stack space in existing buildings. Due to a lack of secure storage space in the State Archives and Library Building, approximately 11,000 cubic feet of archival records are now stored at the State Records Center - and the figure increases monthly. Given the current rate of accessioning records of known or potential archival value, within a few years the allocation of space for archival records will begin hindering the ability of the Records Center to carry out one of its primary objectives, providing low-cost storage of semi-active records for state agencies.
Moreover, with the transition of method of finance for the State Records Center entirely to self-generated revenue, the State Archives must pay the State and Local Records Management Program for the space it is using to store archival records. These charges currently amount to almost $35,000 per year, a figure that will continue to grow, further vitiating an already inadequate budget for the Archives and Information Services Program.
The steadily declining volume of secure storage space at the Sam Houston Center is also a growing concern. The short-term problem is a lack of shelving which is an expensive commodity.
Three archivists were reassigned in 1996 to thoroughly analyze and appraise existing records housed at the individual agencies and offices. The records of only 39 of 155 agencies had been appraised by the end of FY1999. At the rate of 185 series appraised per year, it will take at least 20 years to complete the initial appraisals of the remaining agencies. If additional space and appraisal staff are not allocated soon, the agency may require that state agencies retain such records themselves, and bear the costs of their ongoing maintenance, preservation, and access. In addition to imposing a serious financial burden on government agencies, such a situation could easily result in information of enduring value being lost due to accidental or deliberate destruction.
Lack of space is also an obstacle in the Talking Book Program. The staff members employed at the Shoal Creek location, as well as active community volunteers, vie for work space and restroom facilities. Inadequate accommodations result in less scheduling flexibility for both staff and volunteers and inhibit the growth of the volunteer program. The volunteers are critical to the program meeting its goals.
The volume of demand for services in some operations exceeds the agency's ability to deliver them, in spite of significant productivity improvements in recent years.
The historic understaffing of the Archives and Information Services Program undermines the fulfillment of core responsibilities. Staff assignments are prioritized to meet the most pressing demands. Unfortunately, descriptive work on archival holdings is extremely limited, and preservation treatments have ceased altogether. The consequences of delaying description and preservation are inconvenient to researchers, and can increase the ultimate cost of preservation in most cases.
Understaffing endangers the very existence of archival documentation of electronic records. Agencies continue to create complex relational database systems, geographic information systems, and other increasingly sophisticated electronic records systems. In order to assure the preservation of electronic records of long-term value, records retention requirements must be addressed in the planning and design stages of new information systems. Agencies need assistance to determine which systems have archival value and should be transferred to the State Archives for permanent retention, and which should be retained permanently in the agency, in accordance with requirements for their storage and access to be determined by the Library and Archives Commission. The Archives and Information Services Division does not possess a sufficient number of trained professional archivists to identify and appraise those systems. Further, the Library and Archives Commission does not presently possess the necessary hardware and software to permit the transfer of and access to those information systems.
The Records Management Interagency Coordinating Council (RMICC), in its 1997-1998 Biennial Report, recommended that the complex issues of retaining electronic records of enduring value for historical and research purposes be further studied to identify available options and associated costs. The costs will be substantial; but, necessary for the appropriate preservation of significant records in electronic format - records currently at risk of being lost.
Understaffing in the Archives and Information Services Division also limits the level of customer service that can be provided. The number of requests received via e-mail continues to grow at an alarming rate. Rapid technological advances, coupled with increased public familiarity with the Internet, has also increased user expectations for an immediate electronic response.
In the Library Development Division, the agency's ability to deliver services at a level that meets client needs is also limited by staffing levels. The use of distance learning technology has not reduced the level of staffing needed; if anything, it has had the opposite effect. For example, when the department provides access to video conferences purchased from third party vendors at multiple sites around the state, the participants in distant sites require additional support, not only in the form of coordination and instructional materials, but also with subsequent information, advice and guidance. The program currently supports 12-20 video conference sites, but as the technology becomes available in more locations, clients expect the agency to offer the programs at those locations as well. Staff is also coordinating more training opportunities for the Library Resource Sharing Division to support programs for public and academic libraries and is expected to support training provided through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grants. These grants will bring an estimated $12 million to Texas public libraries, but require the support of this agency. The Library and Archives Commission simply lacks the staff to provide these services at a level that meets customer demand.
The Talking Book Program is also having difficulty in meeting client needs because of inadequate staffing levels. The program experienced a drastic increase in circulation between FY1991 and FY1999-a staggering 72 percent. However, staffing for the program remained static throughout that period. The increase in circulation can be attributed to automation enhancements and extensive use of volunteers, which have enabled staff to accomplish work more efficiently.
In FY1999, the Talking Book Program succeeded in serving less than 10 percent of the population eligible for service, and 76 percent of the calls from patrons attempting to reach a Reader Consultant received a busy signal. The number of staff members available to interact with patrons, duplicate copies of high-demand cassette materials, and coordinate circulation of books and magazines limits service growth. Patrons often go unserved, or discontinue use of the program, because they are unable to communicate with Talking Book staff. Technology has streamlined workflow, but the human element is essential in the customer service equation.
Understaffing of the State and Local Records Management Program has not been as acute as that in other agency programs - until FY2000. Two activities of the program, records storage services and imaging services, operate on a cost-recovery basis. The agency has long made considerable use of temporary labor as camera operators and document preparation clerks to undertake and complete microfilming projects for state agencies. The enactment of Section 9-6.14 of Senate Bill 1 by the 76th Legislature (1999) forced the agency to curtail the use of temporary labor in imaging services to such an extent that the agency anticipates a loss in revenue of approximately $300,000 in FY2000 - a reduction of about 33 percent from FY1999. The imaging services activity cannot generate projected revenues in FY2000 and FY2001 without accepting imaging projects that require supplemental temporary staff on a long-term basis.
Reliance on automated information resources
The Library and Archives Commission has become increasingly reliant on computing and telecommunications technologies; some service delivery cannot function adequately without this technology. The investment in information technology and networks has improved internal communication and enhanced productivity. When staff members are delivering services in distant sites, they can respond to some client needs before returning to the central office. They are also able to participate in staff dialogs on policies and procedures while away from the office. This reliance on a "virtual office" has had a noticeable impact on the way the agency does business.
These trends magnify the importance of further investments to sustain the services and maintain the availability of all key systems at or above 98 percent of the requested hours. Increased resources are needed to support continuing education of staff and upgrade current hardware and software technology.
Planning and budgeting
The agency continues to seek the most effective way to allocate existing resources. In some cases, formula-funded grant programs have created stakeholder groups that influence continued funding through their advocacy. While sensitivity to constituent needs is valuable, it can produce stagnation or a failure to address new needs when new revenue is not available. Because of their tendency to evolve into entitlement programs, formula programs tend to be incompatible with effective program evaluation.
Dramatic changes have taken place in the basic federal structure for supporting library services. The 40-year-old Library Services and Construction Act expired and was replaced by new legislation, the Library Services and Technology Act. The new Act shifts the emphasis to using technology to provide networked and collaborative services, and to develop services for underserved populations - especially children and people living in poverty. These priorities are appropriate, and the agency must dramatically adapt its own traditional programs for assisting most public libraries to effectively administer these funds. The expansion of the federal program from exclusively public libraries to all libraries reinforces the recent direction of state programs. As a result, the agency has become increasingly active with the academic and school library communities. In short, the Library and Archives Commission is in a transitional period that will require careful planning as the agency expands its client base and restructures its programs accordingly.
Although faced with many obstacles, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission also may avail itself of numerous opportunities to provide an expanded array of services to its various client groups, to enhance and improve the effectiveness of its operations, and to play a more active role in state government in general.
Enhance statewide sharing of library resources
House Bill 2721, which shifted administrative responsibility for the TexShare library consortium to this agency, prompted the Library and Archives Commission to establish a new division to coordinate and manage statewide library resource sharing activities. The agency now operates networked resource sharing initiatives for two distinct constituencies: public libraries and academic libraries. The Texas Education Agency operates similar programs for school libraries. As the sole state agency concerned predominantly with library issues, resources and services, the Library and Archives Commission is involved in joint planning efforts to better coordinate and develop these separate programs and to ensure the most effective use of limited state resources.
It is not only in the arena of high-technology programs that resource sharing is important. The agency can now utilize the features of online catalogs and communications systems already in place to organize the statewide interlibrary loan network to operate at a lower cost, while maintaining or improving the level of service. With these savings, the agency can increase the level of resource sharing by reimbursing libraries for direct services to persons from other libraries. Similarly, the TexShare courier provides faster interlibrary loan service statewide, and yields cost savings for academic and public libraries across Texas.
Ensure that libraries have the telecommunications infrastructure they need
It is increasingly difficult for libraries of all kinds to provide the range of information products and services that their clients demand, without reliable and affordable access to broadband telecommunications services. The Library and Archives Commission has worked closely with the Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund Board (TIF) to advance programs of support for the development of information infrastructure for libraries. To date, TIF has provided $14 million for 592 public library locations, both for initial funding of technical infrastructure and to enhance existing infrastructure. Approximately 90-95 percent of the public libraries in Texas will have Internet access by June 30, 2001. By the end of the current grant cycle, every public library who desires Internet access will have been provided an opportunity for TIF to provide the initial investment.
Similarly, grant programs for community college connectivity have provided more robust Internet access and technical infrastructure for each community college, college or university in the state. Agency staff played an active role in working with TIF staff and the TIF Advisory Committee to develop these programs.
Since 1998, agency staff have also worked with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to bring an estimated $12 million in grants to Texas public libraries. These grants will add additional public access workstations and training labs throughout the state. The Library and Archives Commission advocates for all libraries to have the telecommunications infrastructure they need to carry out their programs of service.
The Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 established a Federal Universal Service Fund (USF), an important new program of support for discounted telecommunications rates for schools and libraries. Agency staff have worked hard to provide information and assistance to libraries seeking to benefit from this new program by providing workshops and information on the complex application process. The agency also formally accepted responsibility for approving the technology plans that are required for every applicant under the USF program. The further development of this program will require consistent agency involvement to assist libraries in maximizing the benefits of these discounts.
Provide information through the Internet
Since 1994, the Library and Archives Commission has provided an effective public gateway to electronic information, including federal and state government information and commercial database services. A good example of the agency's effective online services is the Texas State Electronic Library. Since FY1994, this service has provided one-stop access to commercial full-text databases and other resources that enable public and state agency librarians to better serve their clients. It also provides access to 80 general and specific databases, with articles from 2,000 full-text journals and eleven Texas newspapers. The availability of these storehouses of knowledge in even the smallest, most remote communities enables rural Texans to use resources that were formerly available only in large, urban libraries.
Another example of effective electronic library service delivery is the Texas Records and Information Locator service (TRAIL). Launched in response to a legislative mandate to index and enhance access to state agency publications, TRAIL is a comprehensive source for state government information, regardless of format. TRAIL indexes and provides searching of more than 5,000 Texas state electronic resources, from more than 150 state agencies and 30 state colleges and universities.
Through TexShare, the agency has an opportunity to expand and integrate electronic services, including TRAIL, the Texas State Electronic Library, and nearly one hundred electronic information databases. Coordination with other libraries and electronic information providers across the state will help build a comprehensive electronic library all Texans can use effectively - anytime or anywhere.
Use of technology to improve access and preservation
Continuing advancements in information technologies, particularly in the area of digital imagery, offer libraries and archives new preservation and access opportunities. The ability to transmit digital images of unique and valuable archival resources over communications networks to users- on-site as well as at distant locations - without any wear or possible damage to the original items will contribute significantly to their long-term preservation and availability. Unpublished finding aids are already on the agency's Internet server, making them available to multiple users at the same time, both on-site and throughout the world. These systems should be fully developed to provide enhanced access to the wealth of resources that have been relatively inaccessible in the storage stacks of the State Archives. Additional resources are needed to organize these materials, create digital images, and develop the access and retrieval systems to make them available electronically on the patron's desktop.
Improve service delivery through advanced technology
Advances in technology, primarily the viability of the Internet and the development of the agency's network capabilities, will allow the agency to expand services currently being provided through conventional means. An example is the opportunity for teleconferencing, distance learning, and other network-based consulting and continuing education programs for librarians, government records managers, and others. A second example is the opportunity to streamline the agency's publishing operations by converting some of our own publications to electronic format, thus reducing production and distribution costs. The agency's Web site continues to become an important information gateway to information about the agency, its resources, and services. In addition to a home page highlighting important developments within the agency, this Web site provides Internet users with immediate access to the programs, services, and collection holdings of the agency, as well as other important news from the Texas information community and other Internet resources.
Increase earned revenues, grants, and gifts
Other opportunities exist for the Library and Archives Commission to advocate for foundation funding for the historical projects of the State Archives and Regional Historical Resource Depositories. The major unsolved obstacle to this opportunity is staff time to develop proposals for foundation grants.
Ongoing efforts to attract gifts for special projects to enhance services provided by the Talking Book Program (TBP) can be intensified. Additional staff resources would facilitate this effort. TBP has benefited from the receipt of several substantial bequests during the past biennium. Funds will be used to enhance outreach efforts and services to patrons, and to address some unmet needs at the TBP Circulation facility. Because the agency cannot depend on regular contributions of this kind, however, and because of various restrictions in using this funding, the agency is somewhat limited in the ways these funds can be used to support direct service to patrons.
The Friends of the Talking Book Program Volunteer Recording Studio, Inc. is a support group formed in FY1996. This group has achieved success in raising funds for purchases that assist in the production of audio books, including reel-to-reel master tapes, book weights, headphones, and other production tools.
The Library Development Division received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for staff to attend training and receive technical support for development of Outcomes Based Evaluation of projects.
House Bill 1227 in the 76th Legislature (1999) provides for the issuance of a New Millennium license plate for passenger cars and light trucks. The proceeds from the sale of these plates will be used to fund grants for reading programs in public libraries. The project has the potential to raise additional revenues for the agency to grant to libraries; however, it also requires a substantial amount of planning and promotion work on the part of agency staff. Staff are working to coordinate the effort with other organizations, such as the Texas Library Association, and have secured a donor to make the $15,000 deposit with the Texas Department of Transportation to begin production and sale of the plates.
The 76th Legislature also passed Senate Bill 691, which authorizes the creation of a permanent, non-expendable fund which would, if funded, provide direct aid to Texas public libraries.
Increase support for agency programs
Libraries and archives provide valuable services to the citizens of Texas and enjoy broadbased community support. Increased public participation through advisory groups, in efforts like the long-range planning process and sunset review, has helped form ties and alliances for support of agency initiatives. The recent creation of an Archives Committee within the Texas State Historical Association offers another opportunity for support of the agency's archival activities. This support will come from the state's sizable community of professional and amateur historians that use the agency's archival services extensively. The agency must increase its outreach to all groups who receive its services, either directly or indirectly, and improve its ability to market its programs and services. The agency also needs to build better lines of communication with other constituent groups in local communities.
Explore alternatives for serving unserved populations
The Library and Archives Commission awarded three grants in FY1999 and four grants in FY2000 to establish library service in unserved areas of the state. The Establishment Grant Program, along with legislation that permits the creation of library tax districts, has helped to increase the availability of library service. The agency expects to provide one new grant in FY2001.
The 1.4 million persons without library services represent an opportunity for the agency to partner with local libraries to extend services to this population. This opportunity carries the challenge of overcoming geographical, administrative, and political obstacles, including the frequent lack of a local entity with which to work. Alternative methods of service delivery, such as electronic information networks, electronic document delivery, and resource sharing, are services that can be extended to the unserved, especially in isolated rural areas.
Formation of state information policy
The agency must continue to take a leadership role in working with other state agencies, through the Records Management Interagency Coordinating Council and other bodies, to establish sound state information policies and programs. Policies must be adopted that will ensure the development and implementation of recordkeeping systems that use information technology to manage the state's electronic records as effectively as its paper records have been managed. Effective policies will ensure that electronic records are preserved as long as they are needed. The agency can play a key role in this arena because of its specialized staff skills in organizing information, its advocacy for equitable public access to government information, and its relationship with government records management programs, state agency libraries, university libraries, and public libraries.
Improve cost-effectiveness and efficiency in government recordkeeping
At a time when an expanding demand for government services is challenged by limited public resources, the agency can assist in the development of records management programs in state agencies and local governments that will provide cost savings of millions of tax dollars. Cost avoidance for government recordkeeping can be dramatically improved through the use of retention schedules to dispose of obsolete government records, the low-cost storage of inactive records, the organization of active records for easy retrieval, and the appropriate use of recordkeeping technologies. Dependable, time-sensitive accessibility to records is critical for sustaining services to Texans and improving accountability of government operations.
E. Relationship with Local, State, and Federal Entities
The Library has a statutory advisory structure to coordinate its work with local governments and state agencies.
The Local Government Records Committee is comprised of ten local government and two state agency officials to advise and approve rules affecting local government records and review all other policy matters concerning local government records.
The 76th Legislature (1999) created the Electronic Recording Advisory Committee to recommend rules to the Library and Archives Commission that would permit county clerks to receive and record documents, especially in county real property records, by electronic means. The nineteen-member committee is comprised of a mixture of state officials, county clerks and judges, and representatives from the title industry.
The Records Management Interagency Coordinating Council is composed of the elected or appointed heads of seven state agencies or their designees. The Council reviews the activities of each member agency that affects the state's management of records, studies other records management issues, and reports its findings and any recommended legislation to the governor and legislature every two years. The Council is not technically an advisory committee to the agency; however, the Library and Archives Commission carries out many of the Council's recommendations through its existing rulemaking authority.
The Library Systems Act Advisory Board has a membership of five librarians to advise on operation of the Library Systems Act. The Library Services and Technology Act Grant Review Panel has ten members representing different types of libraries and their customers, and advises on library development policy issues and the use of federal funds to improve library services. Agency staff also meets with representatives of library systems several times a year to coordinate the delivery of services to local public libraries.
The TexShare Advisory Board is comprised of eleven individuals, two each representing the state-supported colleges and universities, the community and junior colleges, and the private universities and colleges; two members of the general public; two public library representatives; and one member at large. This Board advises the agency on all aspects of the operation of the TexShare consortium.
The Texas Historical Records Advisory Board (THRAB) works to ensure the comprehensive and efficient preservation of the state's unique documentary heritage, including state records, local government records, and historical manuscripts. The governor appoints two citizen members.
The state archivist serves as THRAB coordinator. Six remaining members - with demonstrated experience in the administration of government records, historical records, or archives - are appointed by the Director and Librarian of the Library and Archives Commission.
The Talking Book Program cooperates with a nationwide network of libraries providing library service to persons with disabilities. Coordinated at the national level by the Library of Congress, this network provides thousands of books that would otherwise be unavailable to Texas readers with disabilities.
The agency continues to work closely with other state agencies to promote a number of initiatives and activities. For example, agency staff provides expertise and information to assist the staff of the Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund Board as it develops programs relevant to libraries. The agency also maintains a high level of cooperative interaction with the staff of the Department of Information Resources in developing standards and guidelines, and in addressing information technology issues.
The agency also works proactively with various client groups to turn opportunity into achievement. A group of Texas librarians, including agency staff, created the "Z Texas Profile" or Z39.50. This profile provides standardization among client-server platforms and provides for searching a variety of online databases using the same interface. Vendors of library systems continue to re-configure their systems to meet the profile.
The Library and Archives Commission also works with a range of non-governmental entities. The agency takes a leading role in endeavors such as the Texas Book Festival. Agency staff provides consulting services for funding entities, such as the Tocker Foundation and the Seawell-Elam Foundation, to assist them in developing guidelines for grants programs, scoring grant proposals, and supporting libraries in carrying out grant-funded projects. Over the next year, agency staff will also be working directly with the Gates Library Foundation to plan and implement Foundation grants to Texas communities.
F. Available Key Technological, Capital, Human, and Community Resources
- The agency's most important resource is an educated and motivated staff, led by effective division-level managers.
- The library and archival collections that the agency maintains are a key resource, without which the agency would be unable to achieve its mission. These include the State Archives, the U.S. and State Documents collections, the Library Science Collection, and the Talking Book Program collection.
- The micrographics and digital imaging facilities in the State and Local Records Management Division are an important resource for carrying out the work of that division, as is the storage capacity of the State Records Center.
- Volunteers are a vital resource and are critical to meeting the program goals of the Talking Book Program and the Archives and Information Services Division. In 1999, volunteer hours worked in these two divisions would be equivalent to an additional 16.5 FTEs.
- In achieving many agency goals, staff must rely on the cooperation and collaboration of numerous state, local and federal officials and staff. Among these are records management officers in state agencies; local government records management officers; the librarians of state agencies libraries; the directors and staffs of the public, academic and school libraries in the state; and network division staff at the National Library Service.
- In promoting resource sharing among all types of libraries, the agency must rely heavily on the rich collections of the public, academic and school libraries of the state.
- Agency staff cannot do their work without access to a robust local area network connected with broadband access to the Internet.
- Staff must also have access to the OCLC Library Network, through the AMIGOS Bibliographic Council, which provides a massive database of bibliographic records.
- The members of the Texas Library Association are an indispensable resource in assisting the agency in developing programs of service that meet the needs of their clients, the residents of Texas.
G. Employee Perception
To assess our employees' opinions, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission participates in the Survey of Organizational Excellence, conducted every two years by the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work.
On average, the data shows employees rated the agency on average higher in 18 of 20 construct categories than they did in 1998. The greatest gains were in the constructs: Employment Development (+6.0 percent), Adequacy of Physical Environment (+4.9 percent), and Job Satisfaction (+3.3 percent). The construct Employment Development measures staff "perceptions of the priority given to the career and personal development of employees by the organization." The increase in this area may be the result of management's conscious efforts to respond to the staff's concerns in the previous surveys. Efforts in this area include a higher emphasis on staff development training and an emphasis on promoting from within.
The least improved constructs were Benefits (+0.3 percent), Goal Oriented (-1.1 percent), and Team Effectiveness (-1.9 percent). The Team Effectiveness construct assesses staff opinion of "the effectiveness of their work group and the extent to which the organizational environment supports teamwork among employees."
Overall, the highest rated constructs in the current survey are Strategic Orientation (407 points), Quality (377 points), and External Communication (374 points). The lowest rated constructs are Fairness (294 points), Supervisor Effectiveness (290 points), and Fair Pay (278 points). These were also the agency's lowest constructs in both the 1998 and the 1996 surveys; they also tend to be at the bottom of all agencies that participated in the survey.
In response to the survey, agency management appointed an Organizational Excellence Task Force (OETF) to examine agency strengths and weaknesses in greater detail. Comprised of staff members from each agency division, the OETF's mission is to distribute information about, collect feedback on, and develop recommendations for improvement in agency performance. During the coming biennium, agency management will work closely with the OETF to address employee concerns.