TexShare Advisory Board/Library Systems Act Advisory Board/Library Stakeholders Meeting
Dialogue with the State Librarian
Friday, March 25, 2011
Thompson Conference Center
Austin, TX

Minutes (See Below forDialogue on Priorities Post-meeting Report

1. Convene Meeting
Candice Scott, Vice Chair, convened the meeting of the TexShare Advisory Board at 10:05 am.

2. Welcome and Introduction
Peggy Rudd welcomed the participants and thanked them for coming.

3. Review the Purpose and Objectives
Ms. Rudd reviewed the process and objectives for the questions for discussion, and gave an update of legislative activity and proposed losses to the TSLAC budget and the impact to TSLAC programs.

4. Discussion of Future Direction of Agency Services to Texas Libraries
Ms. Rudd led the discussion of the dialogue questions and the group discussed the possible future direction of the agency’s programs. See “Dialogue on Priorities Post-meeting Report” for a summary of the discussion.

5. Adjourn
The meeting was adjourned at approximately 3:00 pm.

Present:

TexShare Advisory Board Members:
Candice Scott, Schreiner University, Vice Chair
Cathy Dean, San Antonio
Kathy Fair, Kilgore College
Carol Herrington, Palestine Public Library
Tracey Mendoza, Northeast Lakeview College
Farzaneh Razzaghi, UT Pan American
Dana Rooks, University of Houston
Loriene Roy, School of Information, UT Austin
Alice Specht, Hardin-Simmons University
Laurie Thompson, UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas

Texas State Library and Archives Commission:
Derick Hackett, TSLAC Communications
Dawn Krause, Library Development Division
Tracy Lash, Executive Assistant
Deborah Littrell, Library Development Division Director
Stacey Malek, Library Development Division
Lynne Margolis, TSLAC Communications
Ann Mason, TexShare Program Administrator
Jennifer Peters, Library Development Division
Peggy Rudd, TSLAC Director and Librarian
Ed Seidenberg, TSLAC Assistant State Librarian
Beverley Shirley, Library Resource Sharing Division Director
Russlene Waukechon, TexShare Database Coordinator

Working Group Chairs/Representatives:
Deanna Frazee, Outreach and Instruction Working Group
Kam McEvoy, Texas Collections Working Group
Martha Rinn, Database Cost Sharing Working Group

Strategic Partners:
Susanna Garza, Education Service Center Region 20
Bonnie Juergens, Amigos Library Services
Marty Rossi, Education Service Center Region 20

Library Systems Act Advisory Board/Library Stakeholders:
Karen Baen, Southwest Texas Junior College
Carolyn Bogardus, Port Isabel Public Library
Ricki Brown, Abilene Public Library
Jane Clausen, Lubbock Public Library
Corinne Hill, Dallas Public Library
Jackie Icenhower, Atlanta Public Library
Donna Littlejohn, Harrington Library Consortium
Dionne Mack-Harvin, El Paso Public Library
Hollis McCright, Howard County Library
Kerry McGeath, Southlake Public Library
Gloria Meraz, Texas Library Association
Greg Mitchell, Texas A&M University – Commerce
Connie Moss, Northeast Texas Library System
John Pecoraro, Big Country Library System
Sandra Pickett, Texas State Library & Archives Commission
Linda Rees, Reagan County Library
Gleniece Robinson, Fort Worth Public Library
Pat Smith, Texas Library Association
Elizabeth Swan, Houston Area Library System
Cathy Threadgill, Brazoria City Library System
Pat Tuohy, Central Texas Library System, Inc.

 

Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Dialogue on Priorities Post-meeting Report

In response to questions and concerns arising from the funding crisis facing Texas libraries, library administrators and stakeholders from around Texas were invited to Austin to discuss service and programming priorities, considerations and future approaches. About 37 professionals, in addition to a dozen TSLAC staff members, attended the meeting, held March 25 at the University of Texas-Austin’s Thompson Conference Center. TSLAC Director and Librarian Peggy D. Rudd had provided a list of questions to attendees in advance, then reviewed them and asked for comments at the meeting.

The questions are listed below, followed by a compilation of responses, observations and a group consensus, if one was reached.

What is the best approach to sustaining support for the development of libraries statewide?

This question prompted much discussion about marketing libraries and their services more aggressively, to both the public and legislators. Among the suggestions:

  • Educate people about the value of libraries. Many people still think libraries are for women and children. The modern library offers so much more than story time and romance novels.
  • Market and promote ourselves via an awareness campaign.
  • Demonstrate the role of libraries in workforce development during tough economic times.
  • Position ourselves as educational institutions.
  • Make users understand that virtual services are part of the library.
  • Find studies and research that demonstrate the important role libraries play in communities.
  • Stay on top of Texas lawmakers and keep them informed of the value of libraries (be “loud and proud”). They think librarians are meek, mild women.
  • Focus on Return on Investment.
    Provide a service they can’t see doing without.
  • Create collaborations and partnerships with other community organizations.
  • Involve broader elements of the community (business leaders, museums, other libraries, etc). Be strategic about building community support.
  • Grow the consortia that already exist in the state(TexShare, CORAL, HALAN, Abilene Library Consortium, Harrington Library Consortium, Amigos Library Services, etc.).
  • Develop priorities; focus on the mission. Pinpoint our specialties and focus on them. Do we really need to do everything we do now? Use the business model – don’t try to do it all.
  • Convey the impact of general revenue funding. Provide some evidence; tie education into the library. Libraries ARE education.
  • Find champions to help us sustain funding. Chamber of Commerce, Realtors, others that have a stake in the community’s success.
  • Harness vendor energy to support libraries and their function to legislators and the public.
  • Add more fee-based services.
  • Quit paying for multiple libraries in a community (i.e.: multiple college libraries in one metropolitan area, plus public libraries). Close school libraries and move staff and collections to public libraries.
  • We need to make strategic changes on our own. Make ourselves indispensible to the community.
  • As we look at statewide initiatives, libraries need to be part of the solution.

What factors should be considered when prioritizing TexShare core databases?

“User-friendly” and “broad-based” were mentioned repeatedly. Other comments:

  • Don’t duplicate; find comprehensive solutions.
  • Study usage statistics and cost per use.
  • Consider vendor responsiveness.
  • Consider the needs of disparate audiences, but maintain consistency throughout the state.
  • Keep the central core intact.
  • Examine Wyoming’s pay-per-view model.

What other statewide programs and services are critical? At what basic level must they be maintained?

Everyone agreed that library accreditation and regional technology support need to continue. Reaction was mixed regarding the necessity of maintaining such services as interlibrary loan, couriers and staff training. Comments:

  • Pass interlibrary loan postage fees on to the borrower.
     
  • Continue funding Interlibrary Loan and resource-sharing for libraries that can’t afford it.
     
  • If the TANG program is cut, computers would be paperweights. Of our 39 member libraries, 37 have no IT support and can’t afford it. Having someone who can advise about hardware and software purchases and troubleshoot problems is crucial. Non-library IT workers in small communities don’t understand public computing/library issues.
  • Loan Star Libraries funding is critical to small libraries, many rely on it to fund tech support.
  • Legislators seem to believe local communities should figure out funding themselves or let the libraries go out of business. The taxpayers get what they pay for. The Legislature might come up with another way of fulfilling needs we identify.
  • Library closings are not always bad; some facilities we have need to close before we can get something better.
  • When you cut programs, there are risks involved, and difficult decisions. You have to think about how you are going to revive them. It’s an opportunity to reinvent ourselves.
  • TexShare embodies statewide impact – not just databases, but a broad range of services (Library of Texas, Texas Heritage Online, the card program). These should not die on the vine. The TexShare card program is important.
  • Quantify the state impact of resource sharing, and talk about it as a priority – maybe the rest goes away? Keep what has the greatest benefit across ALL libraries in the state.
  • Look at the multiplier for TexShare services – we can pick up some services (Interlibrary Loan and couriers), but the multiplier for the TexShare databases is 14:1. Relative costs are not the same.
  • Maybe some services could be handled another way; what can the state library do that no other entity can provide?
  • Ask library schools to pick up some of the training. The iSchool at UT is re-entering the continuing-education area.
  • Maintain training at the regional level.
  • Consider alternatives such as the Houston Area Library System use of list-serves for questions. The system developed list-serves for different groups and now all questions go through the list rather than the system office.
  • Develop measurement tools to determine impact of cutting these services now so we won’t be having this same conversation in two years.

What key areas should we consider for grants to foster innovation and best practices in the coming biennium?

There was some disagreement on the topic of grants. For example, one person said now is not a good time to seek grants for innovation and we should just provide survival grants to keep libraries open. Another countered that now is the time to foster innovation.

  • We need more technology training grants to build expertise. Technology in our lives is just going to increase.
  • Fund grants that show sustainability instead of one-time uses. Having less money forces us to be more creative.
  • Examine the impact of grants; show supporters how we make good decisions with the funds we’re given.
  • Look at the “San Jose Way” – by teaching the staff to think differently, they were able to empower patrons to do more for themselves.
  • Small libraries need to sustain the technology they have and receive more training.
  • Develop a new service model, then give grants that support the model.
  • What if we didn’t do grants at all? We could apply that money to something with a higher priority.

How do we determine and address the most critical continuing-education needs in order to enhance library staff skills? How is training best delivered?

Everyone recognized the importance of training and continuing education, and most advocated using online delivery methods such as webinars and video-conferencing, but one person said every available method should be used and that there is no one best way.

  • Take advantage of varied skills and let libraries mentor one another.
  • Self-paced, flexible training options are good.
  • Let the content drive the delivery medium.
     

How can we best use technology to assist libraries in the coming biennium?

Everyone agreed libraries do need continued technology assistance.

  • Make critical TexShare databases accessible via mobile technology (this is being piloted now).
  • Increase patron self-service; people want to do things for themselves. Train them with online tutorials, videos and similar methods.

As changes are made to library systems, what should be done about library accreditation?

Almost everyone agreed that accreditation is essential, though some suggested it could be handled by other organizations. Among the reasons:

  • Libraries use the standards with their funding bodies. Funders understand accreditation. They want to be able to say the community is “recognized.”
  • Public library standards address our core values.
  • They are used for the benefit of the library and community even if there is no financial or service incentive from the state.
  • It’s a marketing and quality-of-life issue.

How do we preserve a foundation from which to support future growth and development?

Most in attendance accepted the reality that hard decisions are ahead and some suggested we make radical operating changes so we can stay relevant now and in the future.

  • Develop a mission statement listing our core services.
  • Assess and evaluate library services so we can prove our value (ROI); tell our story.
  • Market ourselves and align the library as a central service to the community.
  • Decide what we’re going to give up and move forward.
  • Decide what to preserve and make sure to publicize it; we need brand recognition.
  • Retain a resource-sharing attitude and keep collaborative discussions alive.
  • Our users are changing dramatically; we must remain “fluid and flexible” with our eye to the future.
  • Future use is mostly online – we must keep the TexShare databases.
  • We need to do a complete overhaul – leave the library and talk to non-users. We need to make difficult decisions, and it’s a big job – like turning the Queen Mary around. But we must quit offering some services, and we have to figure out how to evolve.
  • Determine our core values and make sure we fund them.
  • Keep supporters informed and involved.

In addition, a few librarians emailed answers. Here is some of their input.

What is the best approach to sustaining support for the development of libraries statewide?

  • Maintain minimum accreditation standards. This will provide a firm basis for future development when funds again become available.
  • Some kind of consultancy function must survive, but could be peer-to-peer mentoring. Consultants could be volunteer library administrators or TSLAC or System coordinators. 
  • Communities that cannot maintain accreditation could function at some other sub-accreditation level, perhaps as a “reading room.” Mentors could assist in creating a plan for reaccreditation.
  • Focus on basics for individual libraries. Don’t pursue programs for a single library or group.
  • Keep this issue in the public’s mind, even after cuts are made. Remind them that legislators take cues from them, and if they want more library services, they have to advocate for them.

What factors should be taken into account when prioritizing TexShare core databases?

  • Amount of use and breadth of resources within the database. Keep Heritage Quest, EBSCO Masterfile Premier and WorldCat at the least.
     
  • One broad-scope general database for all public libraries, and one that is statistically most popular. Levels of core databases, to provide choice for libraries.

What other statewide programs and services are critical? At what level of maintenance?

  • Training

A.  Online; half general and aimed at small rural libraries, and half narrower in scope and of interest to medium and large libraries.

B.  Cut in-person consulting; switch to telephone and email. Don’t troll for people who need help in person; teach them to use Skype to save time and travel costs.

  • Collection and dissemination of use statistics:This will be a vital part of any attempt to regain funding. Interlibrary loan: Issue guidelines to help libraries form consortia to facilitate loans, and provide guidance on how to maintain loan services without state assistance. Continuing education for professionals:  If the state library cannot afford to provide CE, it could create a clearinghouse for opportunities.
     
  • There is a perception among smaller libraries that TSLAC needs to maintain responsibility for providing technology assistance to individual libraries, but it can’t in this funding climate. Responsibility should be shifted back to each library. Technology is a normal operating expense for all businesses and should be part of the standard operating budget of all libraries.

How do we determine the most critical continuing-education needs that must be addressed in order to enhance the skills of library staff? How best delivered?

  • Pay attention to news about libraries (this is what patrons will be asking us about) and poll member librarians.
     
  • TSLAC may need to delegate CE back to individual libraries or librarians. Other professional groups make continuing education an individual responsibility.
      
  • Groups of libraries might handle CE jointly. A schedule of free and paid CE opportunities could be maintained with minimal effort by Systems staff, who could serve as information facilitators or organizers, removing TSLAC from a direct CE role.

What are the best ways we can use technology to assist librarians in the coming biennium?

  • Provide CE electronically. Consider doing HALS and committee meetings electronically. Publicize new technology uses. If librarians know who is using a technology well, they can contact that library to get more info.
     
  • Point out resources for learning about new technologies. We must analyze technological innovations more closely to insure that they are actually going to positively impact our services, not just provide a cool factor. 

What key areas should we consider for grants to foster innovation and best practices in the coming biennium?

  • Low priority.
     
  • Integrating digital materials into the library collection. Streamlining workflows, concentrating on tech services and circulation practices. Any labor-saving technological innovations in any library area. Integrating free materials into collections.

As changes are made to library systems, what should be done about library accreditation?

  • Loan Star’s loss will likely mean nonresident fees. Unfunded mandates from the state will not be well-received by communities. You may provide more help to libraries by endorsing TLA’s standards for public libraries instead, and devising some sort of point scores.
     
  • Library standards are not about our wants or needs as library employees – the standards are meant to insure we provide adequate and consistent service to our communities. We owe this to our patrons. It will also be crucial in being able to hire competent professionals.
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