Texshare Electronic Information Working Group
Conference Call, October 16, 2009
Working Group members: Victoria Chiavetta; Kristen Cook; Eric Elmore; Kerry Keck (chair & recording); Sandra Munger; Sue Phillips; Susan Smith; John Weed; Russlene Waukechan, Guest: Gloria Meraz
Following attendance, Russlene Waukechan reviewed conversations between Gloria Meraz, Beverley Shirley and Russlene regarding the need for a telephone conference to discuss what electronic resources are needed in the state and the level of state funding necessary to meet those needs. Gloria Meraz, wants a clear picture of what TexShare libraries need in terms of electronic resources and how these resourced benefit libraries and their patrons before the next legislative session.
Gloria expressed appreciation for the work of the EIWG and the need to balance the constituencies of the members. Part of Gloria’s work is advocating for funding for TexShare. The last legislative session witnessed some success through granting of additional funding for library services in Texas, though not for resource sharing. TexShare has, however, excellent brand name recognition in the Legislature.
Gloria feels it is apparent that there is interest in supporting library funding even in these tough economic times, but that she wants to streamline her message and conversations regarding the benefit of library services. She has observed an interest in workforce-related issues among librarians, legislators, and Texas citizens during these economic times.
Gloria feels that it will be important for libraries to offer services that focus on areas of key interest and need in the state. The increasing state revenue problem in ‘11 (projected to be worse than in ‘09) will place increasing demands on demonstrating tangible benefits for expenditures, and she feels that databases that include resources to improve testing results (for example career licensing and certification practice tests) and that provide resume and job-hunting aids would address these areas of interest. Gloria hopes to be able to have end users (especially first responders or health professional) talk about how they have used Texshare databases for specific concrete developments of their careers.
The EIWG discussed the desirability of such testing and workforce tools as an addition to the databases suite. Issues discussed included: would Learning Express work with a statewide consortium (they are doing regional area consortia); alternate products including Gale Testing Center and Job View. Russlene described the constraints of the existing budget, leading to concerns about how could we include this in our budget. The group clarified that we would not be in a position to ask for separate funding for this new type of resource.
A critical factor from the view of this committee: keep Texshare the high priority in all requests from the TLA and State Library to the state legislature. Everyone agreed we have had great backing from specific legislators. Gloria stated TLA’s position: there are two big things that the state can do to improve library services: resource sharing and other library programs. Gloria reiterated the importance of being able to demonstrate very tangible ties between information resources and career success.
EIWG turned to the second part of Gloria’s request for assistance: help us to find individuals who can show there is a direct impact between Texshare databases and user groups/types: small business owners, health professionals, etc. She would like constituency-tailored presentations of how Texshare databases can be of value to be available for presentations to local chambers of commerce, professional association meeting, etc. Gloria is looking for librarians to work with her office to develop written and video presentations of the impact of these resources. Gloria will provide some more specific scenarios or examples of the groups she would like to involve; members of the EIWG will assist in trying to identify Texas librarians who can assist in crafting these tailored messages.
Sue Phillips asked about the next legislative session’s outlook, including the impact of tax income being down and no more stimulus money to balance the budget. Gloria concurred that budgets will be very tight. She pointed out that the Texas legislature hasn’t touched the “rainy day funds” – which they may still not be willing to expend. TLA will try to advocate for more funding, but the true work may prove be trying not to lose ground. Agencies may be looking at double-digit cuts.
The group also touched briefly on recently changes permitting Texshare membership expansion. Several members expressed concern that expansion be addressed with attention toward balancing new members’ fees against increased resource costs, to avoid eroding services to all.
Russlene reviewed plans for database renewals for 2010-2011. Beverley Shirley and Russlene conferred with the head of purchasing, and determined that we are not bound to issue a RFP and do another bid at this time. Russlene feels a new RFP/bid would not beneficial at this time due to no noticeable change in funding levels. Russlene was able to negotiate inflation caps from our existing vendors, which might not be reproduced with a total re-bidding of the databases. With no additional funding to offer vendors, we are unlikely to better our existing offerings.