A Proposal to Conduct a Study of Public Library Development in Texas

Himmel & Wilson Library Consultants

October 26, 2002

Response to RFP 306-03-8117

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It is our understanding that the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) is seeking the assistance of a team of consultants who are highly knowledgeable in all aspects of public library services to work with them to develop a comprehensive plan for the improvement of public library services in the State of Texas. The work of the consultants is to be based on a thorough understanding of the demographic, political, and societal factors that influence library use in Texas.

The consultants must gain a keen awareness of the current status of library services in the State and an understanding of the programs and initiatives, as well as the governance and funding structures, which are now in place. The plan for library development must address these issues and should outline the appropriate roles that the state library agency, regional library systems, and individual libraries will play in bringing about the improvement of library and information services.

The process used to develop the plan must engage stakeholders throughout the State of Texas and must engender a high level of “buy-in” from the library community. Furthermore, the plan must provide more than general guidance toward achieving enhanced library services. It must offer specific strategies to be used to achieve the goals set forth in the plan and must offer justifiable cost estimates for specific plan elements.

The plan must make explicit recommendations regarding existing grant and aid programs as well as about any new initiatives deemed necessary to bring about the improvement of the level and quality of public library service in Texas.

Both the staff of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and the Library Development Study Steering Committee are expected to play an active role throughout the course of the study. The consultants are expected to keep both the staff and the Committee well informed of the progress that is being made and should actively seek their guidance and counsel throughout the study.


Himmel & Wilson is proposing to carry out the Library Development study in a manner that will involve and engage a large percentage of the Texas library community. We recognize the considerable challenge that accomplishing this task in a relatively short time presents. In order to ensure our ability to conduct a quality study within the timeframe provided, Himmel & Wilson has assembled an outstanding team of experienced consultants and practitioners to participate in the effort.

Team members bring diverse and complementary skills to the project. Together, the seven team members have worked in public libraries in no fewer than ten different states and have been involved in consulting assignments in forty-eight of the fifty states. Team members have worked in public libraries both in large and small communities. Several have front-line experience working in Texas libraries; several have practical experience working in regional library systems. The project manager brings experience as a public library director, as an administrator in a rural public library system, an urban public library system, and as the head of a state library agency to the study. Finally, the team is diverse from the standpoints of gender, race, and ethnicity.

The TSLAC has outlined the work it expects the consultants to perform in considerable detail. The following paragraphs will describe the way in which we intend to meet and, in many cases, to exceed TSLAC’s expectations in conducting this important study.

We envision this study as having five separate phases. They are:

  • Phase I - Discovery
  • Phase II - Data Gathering
  • Phase III - Data Analysis
  • Phase IV - Synthesis
  • Phase V - Refinement

Phase I – Discovery

Phase I will provide the entire consulting team with the opportunity to gain a basic understanding of the Texas library landscape. While our team includes individuals with a good knowledge of Texas library history, we understand that we must have a thorough knowledge of the current situation and of initiatives, plans, and programs that are already in progress. During this phase, the consultants will review background information provided by the TSLAC staff and will generate a series of questions intended to clarify our understanding of what is and what is in the process of unfolding in Texas libraries. This study comes at an excellent time in that there has been a recent evaluation of the implementation of the Federal Library Services and Technology Act program in Texas and that a new five-year plan has recently been developed. While the consultants will go well beyond an examination of these documents and will be reviewing information at the individual program level, the LSTA documents will prove invaluable to the consultants in gaining a basic understanding of existing conditions.

After the consultants review background documentation (written documents, websites, etc.), the set of questions mentioned above will be generated and presented to the TSLAC Director. All seven consultants will contribute to the list of questions; however, the co-principal consultants will eliminate duplicate questions and will refine the document. We would ask that these questions be reviewed by TSLAC staff and that they respond with a list of individuals who might offer additional information and clarification on the questions/issues raised. This list will be reviewed and refined in consultation with the TSLAC Director to eliminate needless duplication and to enhance the consultants’ opportunity to gain a thorough knowledge of the current and emerging environment in which library services are offered. The co-principal consultants will then conduct a series of personal interviews with the individuals who are identified. Some of these interviews will be conducted in person and others will take place over the telephone.

Following this series of interviews, the consultants will use demographic data and library statistics provided by TSLAC to generate a series of chart, graphs, and geographic information system maps that illustrate existing conditions. We have found that new insights often emerge when demographic and library input and output measures are overlaid. We will also make use of Federal State Cooperative System data to generate peer comparisons, which will be presented in both graphic and tabular formats. Based on a draft report showing these comparisons, the consultants will work with TSLAC staff to identify four states for follow-up interviews with state librarians and/or senior library development staff to garner more information about factors that influence their relative placement in relation to Texas. We typically encourage state library agencies to include the two top performing states on specific measures of interest in addition to regional and/or demographic peers. This is because we believe that the primary purpose of the peer analysis process is to identify factors that allow certain states to excel.

The final element of the discovery phase of the project will be the consultants’ first meeting with the Library Development Study Steering Committee. We envision this meeting to be a full-day meeting with the majority of the consulting team, key TSLAC staff, and the entire Steering Committee in attendance. The consultants will start the session by presenting what we think we know at this early stage of the process. We will draw on the background review, the individual interviews, and on the demographic/library statistics analysis to develop this presentation. The primary purpose of the day will be to further clarify and enhance the consultants’ understanding of the library landscape before proceeding to the field.

The meeting will also be used to discuss and refine the specific data collection efforts that are envisioned as Phase II activities.

Phase II – Data Gathering

The data-gathering phase will involve all seven consultants and will utilize several different information-gathering techniques. We propose to hold a total of approximately forty focus groups in twenty different locations throughout the State. The purpose of presenting the list below is simply to demonstrate the fact that we intend to talk to members of the library community in every corner of the State. We propose the following list of locations as tentative sites; however, we are more than willing to consider alternatives.

  • Abilene
  • Amarillo
  • Austin
  • Corpus Christi
  • Dallas/Garland
  • El Paso
  • Ft. Worth/Denton
  • Harlingen
  • Houston
  • Laredo
  • Lubbock
  • Lufkin/Nacogdoches
  • Midland/Odessa
  • Mt. Pleasant/Paris
  • San Antonio
  • Sherman/Denison
  • Texarkana
  • Tyler/Longview
  • Waco
  • Wichita Falls

Approximately half of the focus groups will involve public library directors. The balance of the sessions will target other library stakeholders including library trustees, members of library “Friends” organizations, and a few targeted public groups. The consultants will determine the exact distribution of focus groups in consultation with the project Steering Committee. Noticeably absent from the list above are public officials and staff members of individual libraries and regional public library systems. We intend to gather information from these individuals using alternative methods. We propose to make a site visit to each of the ten regional library system headquarters locations. Appropriate system staff will be interviewed individually or in small groups at this time. A sample of local officials such as city managers and elected representatives of library funding entities will be interviewed during these site visits as well.

We will ask TSLAC to assist us in finding suitable locations for focus group sessions. We expect that most will be held in public libraries and we will make the final arrangements for the sessions. Our expectation of TSLAC will be to help us identify good potential sites (locations with meeting rooms and adequate parking) and to make an initial contact with the library to lend credibility to our request when we follow-up to make meeting arrangements.

Each of the seven consultants will be assigned to visit between four and six public libraries in the area of the State in which they are conducting focus group sessions. A total of approximately 35 libraries will be visited. Libraries of all different sizes will be identified for these site visits. The purpose of the visits is to provide the consultants with a reasonable sample of the range of facilities, services, technology and overall conditions that exist in the Texas library community. The consultants will work with TSLAC and with the Steering Committee members to identify libraries for site visits. We intend to make it clear to the library community that these visits are not for the purpose of evaluating individual libraries. Rather, the purpose is to better understand the challenges faced by Texas libraries.

Mr. Waters will develop a simple checklist assessment tool to be used by the consultants in assessing facilities. Mr. Wilson will develop a similar brief survey regarding technology. Dr. Himmel will do the same in regard to library services. Each of the seven consultants will complete all three of these assessment sheets during their library site visits. Consultants will also shoot approximately six digital photos at each of the libraries that illustrate specific findings. The photographs of the libraries (a total of approximately 200) will be burned on CDs. The consultants will provide copies of the CD to TSLAC and to each of the Steering Committee members.

Public library staff members will also have an opportunity to share their thoughts on how library services might be improved as part of the data-gathering process. The primary method that will be used to gather this information will be a series of web-based surveys; each targeting specific groups. For example, separate surveys will be developed for children’s/youth services staff and for reference/information staff. Two somewhat more “generic” staff surveys will also be developed to provide a vehicle for gathering the ideas and opinions of “all-purpose” library staff members (often from smaller libraries) and from support staff. A total of approximately six web surveys are envisioned. Himmel & Wilson will host the surveys on our web site so the results can be fed directly into a database in our offices; however, we will require the cooperation of TSLAC and of the regional library systems in advertising the availability of the surveys through listservs, newsletter announcements, etc. Himmel & Wilson has conducted well over 100 web-based surveys in the past. Print-on-paper versions of the surveys will be available for those who prefer not to use the electronic means of submitting their responses, although our experience shows that the vast majority of responses will be submitted on the web.

Phase III – Data Analysis

The co-principal consultants, Bill Wilson and Ethel Himmel, will be responsible for most of the data analysis. While the individual consultants will submit notes of focus groups meetings and reports on site visits, Mr. Wilson and Dr. Himmel will compile this information into a summary report that will be shared with the TSLAC and the project steering committee electronically. Each of the consultants will also receive copies of these materials for their review and comments.

Dr. Himmel and Mr. Wilson will also compile summary reports of individual interviews and will analyze and generate statistical and narrative summaries of the survey findings. These reports will also be shared with TSLAC and with Steering Committee members. Again, each of the consultants will review and provide comments on the summary reports.

Phase IV – Synthesis

We recognize that data gathering is only a small portion of this project. The “meat” of the study is the development of a plan for improving and enhancing library and information services in the State. We propose to involve the Texas library community in a significant way during the synthesis phase of the project.

The synthesis phase will begin with a second meeting between with the project steering committee. The meeting will be used to review the results of the data-gathering phase and to begin the development of a plan of action. The consultants will use a variety of techniques ranging from scenario building to “forced choice” exercises to identify both directions and to prioritize goals. The scenario building process creates exaggerated frameworks within which to consider decisions and actions. Creating these alternate scenarios often provides insights into appropriate courses of action in spite of an uncertain future. The goal of scenario building is the identification directions that will perform well under a variety of different circumstances.

The results of this important meeting with the Steering Committee will form the basis of a series of meetings with members of the library community to be held in four locations in the State.

Four of the meetings will be regional replicas of the meeting with the Steering Committee. The consultants will use the scenario building technique as well as other methods to determine whether members of the library community in all regions of the State reach the same kind of conclusions that were reached by the Steering Committee, which represents a statewide point of view. In addition to involving stakeholders in the process, the purpose of these sessions is to determine whether there are important regionally based needs and concerns that have not been addressed.

Reports of these sessions will be shared with TSLAC, the Steering Committee and the full consulting team for comments.

Based on the comments received, the entire consultant team will collaborate in preparing the first set of draft recommendations. These recommendations will be shared electronically with TSLAC and with the Steering Committee.

After receiving input from TSLAC and the Steering Committee on the first draft, the consultants will facilitate a series of “town-hall” meetings. These sessions, like the scenario building sessions will be held in four different sections of the State. One of the sites for the “town-hall” meetings will be at the Texas Library Association meeting in Houston in April, 2003. The consultants will present a set of draft recommendations based on all of the work conducted to date at these sessions. Anyone with interest in the future of public libraries in Texas will be invited to attend these sessions and to offer their opinions and ideas regarding the draft recommendations.

Phase V – Refinement

A second draft of the findings and recommendations document will be developed and shared with the TSLAC and the Steering Committee after the completion of the “town-hall” meetings. Comments, opinions, and ideas shared in the “town-hall” sessions will be reflected in this draft. After review and comment by the Steering Committee, the consultants will begin the development of the draft of the final report.

Mr. Waters will work closely with Dr. Himmel and Mr. Wilson during this phase of the project. Mr. Waters will be developing the cost estimates that will be included in the draft final version of the report. A draft of these cost estimates will be shared with TSLAC and with the Steering Committee before the final version of the report is prepared. Some modifications may be made to the recommendations at this point if costs are deemed excessive. Mr. Morrison will review the draft and the cost estimates and will offer ideas for partnerships that might allow TSLAC to accomplish its goals more effectively and/or at a lower cost. Mr. Gomez will review the draft and cost documents to identify goals/recommendations that might be of interest to alternative funding sources such as granting entities and foundations.

The draft final report including costing data will then be generated and will be presented at the July TSLAC meeting. The final version of the report will be prepared following the presentation and will incorporate any changes or editing requested by the Commission.


1. Project Manager

Mr. William Wilson will serve as the project manager and as a co-principal consultant on the project. Mr. Wilson will be the primary point of contact between the consulting team and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. He will direct the work of all other team members and will coordinate all major activities. Dr. Ethel Himmel will assume a major responsibility for research and analysis activities.

2. Consulting Team Members and Respective Duties

Following are the individuals who will make up the consulting team and a description of their individual duties:

Mr. William Wilson – project manager, co-principal consultant. In addition to his project management responsibilities, Mr. Wilson will bear the primary responsibility for demographic analysis, all aspects of the project related to existing and proposed technology initiatives, and for a thorough examination and evaluation of the impact of organizational structures and current funding structures on the delivery of library services.

Dr. Ethel Himmel – co-principal consultant and research/analysis consultant. Dr. Himmel will oversee data and information collection efforts including focus groups, personal interviews, regional “town-hall” meetings, and regional scenario building sessions. She will also take the primary responsibility for the development of survey instruments to be used to gather input from members of the library community.

Mr. Richard Waters – financial and facilities consultant. Mr. Waters will be involved in conducting focus groups and will participate in the regional “town-hall” and scenario-building sessions. He will also be involved in an assessment of the long-term facilities needs of public libraries in the state. This will be a general analysis based on a sample of libraries in the State; however, it will be conducted in a manner that will provide a valid appraisal of anticipated facility needs. Mr. Waters will also take the lead on developing cost models for each of the recommendations of the final report.

Mr. Samuel Morrison, Mr. Martín Gómez, Mr. David Henington, and Ms Gertiana Williams – associate consultants. All four associate consultants will be involved in conducting focus groups and personal interviews. One of the associate consultants will participate in each of four regional “scenario-building” meetings and one of four regional “town-hall” sessions. Each will contribute to the development of the final plan and will review and comment on the draft plan.

3. Education and Experience of Consultants

Following is a brief summary of the education and experience of each consultant team member. More detail is provided in the “Academic and Experiential Qualifications section, in the Specific Knowledge and Skills section, and in the resumes provided as APPENDIX A.

Mr. William “Bill” Wilson – Master’s in Library Science – State University of New York at Buffalo. Experience as a municipal library director, a regional library system administrator and as the head of a state library agency. Exceptional knowledge of information technology. Extensive experience as a library consultant to public libraries and state library agencies.

Dr. Ethel Himmel – Master of Arts in Library Science and Ph.D. in Library Science – University of Wisconsin – Madison. Experience in public library and regional library system administration. Extensive knowledge of research design, group facilitation, data collection, and data analysis. Extensive experience as a library consultant to public libraries and state library agencies.

Mr. Richard “Dick” Waters – Master of Librarianship – University of Washington. Experience in public library administration, exceptional expertise in library facilities and in library service cost analysis. Extensive experience as a library consultant and considerable familiarity with Texas libraries and librarians.

Mr. Samuel “Sam” Morrison – Master’s in Library Science – University of Illinois – extensive experience in library administration and in the building of partnerships and cooperation.

Mr. Martín Gómez – Master of Library Science – University of Arizona – extensive experience in public library services and administration as well as in alternative funding sources.

Mr. David Henington – Master of Science in Library Science – Columbia University – extensive experience in public library administration and an extensive knowledge of Texas library history. Considerable familiarity with Texas libraries and librarians.

Ms Gertiana Williams – Master of Library Science – University of Missouri – extensive knowledge of library services and administration and considerable familiarity with Texas libraries and librarians.

4. Amount of Time and Percentage of Time for Each Consultant

We have budgeted a total of 880 consultant hours for the completion of this project. Following is an estimate of the time and percentages of the total time allocated to each of the team members.

  • Mr. William Wilson – 280 hours – 31.8% of total hours
  • Dr. Ethel Himmel – 240 hours – 27.3% of total hours
  • Mr. Richard Waters – 120 hours – 13.6% of total hours
  • Mr. Martín Gómez – 60 hours – 6.8% of total hours
  • Mr. Samuel Morrison – 60 hours – 6.8% of total hours
  • Mr. David Henington – 60 hours – 6.8% of total hours
  • Ms Gertiana Williams – 60 hours – 6.8% of total hours

5. Resumes

Resumes for all team members can be found in APPENDIX A

6. Professional References

We have provided three references from past statewide projects and have enclosed a copy of the report for the Montana State Library project as requested.

Reference 1

Contact Person: Dr. Karen Strege, State Librarian

Organization Name: Montana State Library

Address: 1515 E. 6th Ave., Helena, MT 59620

Telephone Number: (406) 444-3115

E-mail Address: kstrege@state.mt.us

Description of Project:

A study of the Montana State Library’s organization and services with recommendations for the future. This was a statewide study of the State Library that involved focus groups in multiple areas of the State; site visits to the State Library and local libraries, surveys of all types of libraries, and interviews with key individuals.

Reference 2

Contact Person: Mr. Michael Lucas, State Librarian

Organization Name: State Library of Ohio

Address: 274 East First Ave., Columbus, OH 43201

Telephone Number: (614) 644-7041

E-Mail Address: mlucas@sloma.state.oh.us

Description of Project:

An evaluation of the State Library of Ohio’s implementation of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). The project included an extensive background review, focus groups, surveys, and interviews with key individuals. Himmel & Wilson has also conducted a study of Ohio’s library systems.

Reference 3

Contact Person: Mr. James Scheppke, State Librarian

Organization Name: Oregon State Library

Address: 250 Winter St. NE, Salem, OR 97301

Telephone Number: (503) 378-4367

E-Mail Address: jim.b.scheppke@state.or.us

Description of Project:

An evaluation of the Oregon State Library’s implementation of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). Included a review of background documentation, focus groups, surveys, and interviews with key individuals. Himmel & Wilson has also conducted two evaluations of Oregon’s referred reference program.

7. Other Work Commitments of the Principal Consultants

If Himmel & Wilson is awarded the Texas State Library and Archives Commission project, the Library Development Study will be the major focus of both co-principal consultants from November 30, 2002 through April 30, 2003. While we anticipate involvement in a few other small-scale projects, the Texas effort will necessarily occupy the majority of our time.

We currently have four projects underway. However, only one of these is a major project and all will be completed by mid-December. Himmel & Wilson is currently under contract with the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County to conduct a process designed to develop new service models for two urban public library branches. With the exception of a visit to present the final report, all on-site work on this project will be completed by November 15, 2002. Estimated completion date for the entire project is December 15, 2002.

We are also acting as a sub-contractor to PROVIDENCE Associates on a facilities development plan in York County, South Carolina. Our role in this project is limited to demographic analysis, service area mapping, and peer library comparisons. None of this work will require us to be on-site in South Carolina. We are also in the process of completing evaluations of technology projects for two Cooperative Educational Service Agencies in Wisconsin. Final reports on both of these projects will also be submitted early in December.

Academic and Experiential Qualifications

The Request for Proposal (RFP) indicates that proposers must possess specific academic and experiential qualifications. We believe that you will find that Himmel & Wilson brings exceptional experience, knowledge, and skill to the task at hand. Our team consists of seven library professionals who bring a combined total of nearly two hundred years of library experience to the project. All seven team members hold master’s degrees in library science (MLS). Both of the co-principal consultants on the project have completed extensive graduate work beyond the MLS. Ethel Himmel holds a doctorate in library science with a public administration minor. Bill Wilson has completed the course work toward his doctorate in library science with a concentrated minor in urban and regional planning.

All seven team members have both administrative and “front-line” experience in public libraries. Two team members, Gertiana Williams and Sam Morrison presently serve as the directors of major urban libraries (The New Orleans {LA} Public Library and the Broward County {FL} Library respectively). A third team member, Martín Gómez, recently became the Executive Director of the “Friends & Foundation” of the San Francisco (CA) Public Library after serving as the Director of the Brooklyn (NY) Public Library for seven years. A fourth team member, David Henington, served as the Director of the Houston Public Library for twenty-seven years prior to his retirement in 1995.

Three team members are now full-time library consultants; however, all three full-time consultants also possess extensive front-line and administrative experience in public libraries. Richard Waters spent 19 years with the Dallas Public Library serving as Acting Director, Associate Director of Public Services, Chief of the Central Library, Chief of Branch Services, and Head of the Science and Industry Division. The sixth team member, Bill Wilson, started his career with the Buffalo and Erie County (NY) Public Library and later spent seven years as the Assistant Administrator of the Winding Rivers Library System in Wisconsin. This system serves a population of approximately 250,000 people in seven largely rural counties. Bill also spent seven years as the director of the McMillan Memorial Library (Wisconsin Rapids, WI), a municipal public library serving a population of 45,000. He subsequently worked as the Director of the Milwaukee (WI) County Federated Library System and as Wisconsin’s State Librarian. The last team member, Dr. Ethel Himmel, held the positions of Head of Circulation, Head of Adult Services, Head of Public Services and Deputy Director of the La Crosse (WI) Public Library (LPL). LPL serves a population of approximately 50,000.

It is important to note that the library experience of the team members is not limited to urban libraries or to administrative posts. While team members have worked for major urban libraries in places like Brooklyn, Chicago, New Orleans, Oakland, Dallas and Houston, their experiences also include working in places like La Crosse (WI), National City (CA), Wisconsin Rapids (WI), Wichita (KS), Springfield (MO), as well as in Waco, Wichita Falls, and Paris in Texas. In all, team members have worked in libraries in ten different states. Several members of the consulting team have worked for regional library systems and one also headed a state library agency.

Himmel & Wilson believes that in order to successfully carry out this project, the proposer must possess exceptional knowledge in three related areas; public libraries, regional library systems, and state library agencies. We have exemplary qualifications in all three areas.

The Himmel & Wilson partners are the authors of the Public Library Association’s planning process entitled Planning for Results: A Library Transformation Process. Planning for Results was published by the American Library Association (ALA) in 1998. Ethel Himmel & Bill Wilson also authored The Functions and Roles of State Library Agencies published by ALA in 2000. This publication was the result of a national study of state library agencies conducted under the auspices of the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) and the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA). As was mentioned above, Mr. Wilson served as the head of a state library agency. Ms Himmel’s doctoral thesis explored the political and managerial skills of state librarians.

Himmel & Wilson recently conducted a study of exemplary library systems and cooperatives on behalf of an innovative group of library system and cooperative directors who call themselves “The Lightbulb Group.” The results of this study will be published in 2003 in American Libraries.

In summary, the Himmel & Wilson team is composed of seven exceptionally well-qualified library professionals with a keen knowledge of public library services, library systems and cooperatives, and state library agencies.


Specific Knowledge and Skills Related to the Project

The RFP also indicates that proposers must document their experience, knowledge and skill in a number of specific areas relevant to the project. We have organized our responses to each of the areas mentioned using the numbering system employed in the RFP.

1. Experience and skills facilitating group input and working to achieve consensus.

Ethel Himmel and Bill Wilson have both facilitated literally hundreds of focus groups, “town-hall” meetings and group planning sessions in states throughout the nation. We have utilized the focus group approach in statewide studies in seventeen different states. Of special interest in Texas is the fact that we have successfully used the technique and have gathered important information from individuals located in the far reaches of some of the largest states in the nation including Montana, Nevada, and Oregon.

Himmel & Wilson also uses a variety of other techniques to build consensus and to develop widespread ownership of the results of statewide projects. We employ standard facilitation methods such as the nominal group method and “forced choice” exercises to further the decision-making process. We frequently use web surveys and scenario building to engage stakeholders as well.

The scenario building technique may be somewhat less familiar than the others we mentioned. Scenario building creates exaggerated alternate contexts within which participants are asked to develop models or responses. We have found that using this method helps participants consider new ideas, enables then to challenge some of their own pre-conceived notions in a non-threatening framework, and allows them to look at a variety of concepts from alternate perspectives.

Our other team members are also experienced in using the facilitation techniques we will employ. For example, Himmel & Wilson has been involved with Dick Waters in more than twenty projects that used either focus groups or “town-hall” style meetings as a data gathering method. Himmel & Wilson has worked on a project for the District of Columbia Public Library that used focus groups along with Sam Morrison and David Henington. Five of the seven team members recently worked together on a project for the Cleveland Public Library that employed both focus groups and “town-hall” meetings.

The group facilitation skills of the Himmel & Wilson team members are not limited to data gathering. A review of the resumes of team members speaks volumes about the political and consensus-building skills they possess. Mr. Wilson has often been called upon to lend his negotiation/consensus building skills in difficult situations. Examples including mediating disputes over reimbursement for non-resident use of libraries and forging an alliance among thirteen independent libraries to secure $ 3.4 million dollars in funding for a library automation consortium. Mr. Wilson was awarded a “Special Service Award” by the Wisconsin Library Association in 1990 largely because of his role in mediating a dispute that threatened to fracture that organization.

Another team member, Sam Morrison, is well known nationally for his exceptional skills in building partnerships. The Broward County Library has been recognized repeatedly for its effort in building effective alliances in the greater Ft. Lauderdale area. The recent opening of the “African-American Research Library and Cultural Center” is a testament to his skills. Mr. Morrison was also instrumental in bringing Chicago’s Harold Washington Library to fruition during his stint as the chief librarian for the City of Chicago.

The recent appointment of Martín Gómez as Executive Director of the “Friends & Foundation” of the San Francisco (CA) Public Library recognizes his exceptional skills in bringing people together. Another example was Martín’s selection as vice-co-chair of the New York State Library’s “New Century Libraries” initiative. New York’s New Century Libraries initiative parallels the Texas effort in many ways.

2. Knowledge of research methods and techniques in analyzing and organizing research results.

Dr. Ethel Himmel will serve as the principal research consultant for the project. Ethel’s background in research design and statistics provides the assurance that the study will be carried out in accordance with rigorous research standards. While not all of the methods to be used in the study are “scientific” methods, the Himmel & Wilson team knows when it is appropriate to generalize findings and when such practices are dangerous.

Himmel & Wilson also seeks new and innovative ways to present information to its clients. We often use Geographic Information System (GIS) maps to display statistical data in a highly graphic and understandable format. The Himmel & Wilson partners have just been notified that they will be recognized by the National Center for Education Statistics and the National Commission on Library and Information Science with the Helen Eckard Award for “the innovative and exemplary use of public library data collected through the

Federal-State Cooperative System (FSCS)” in reports prepared as part of statewide studies conducted in Arkansas and West Virginia.

Himmel & Wilson has been involved in many large-scale evaluation projects. During the last two years alone, our firm conducted evaluations of the implementation of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) for six state library agencies. We have also conducted statewide evaluations of the effectiveness of library systems in Connecticut and Ohio.

3. Ability to direct the planning, assignment, and oversight of a team of consultants.

Himmel & Wilson frequently employs a team approach when conducting large, complex projects. We do so for several important reasons. First, and most importantly, this practice offers the client greater expertise than can be offered by any individual consultant. Secondly, the team approach enables the consultants to conduct a great amount of work in a relatively short period of time. Our decision to propose a team approach for this project is based on a belief that the Texas State Library and Archives Commission will end up with a rich, balanced, and well-reasoned product because of the diverse background and experiences of the team members.

However, as the RFP points out, the team approach is not without risk. For it to be successful, the work of team members must be well organized and closely supervised. We would submit our success in repeatedly using the team approach as evidence of our ability to manage such a complex study. Six of the seven team members have worked with Himmel & Wilson on previous occasions; five of the seven members worked together on a major neighborhood library initiative for the Cleveland Public Library earlier this year. The team members know each other, respect each other, and understand the strengths (and weaknesses) that each brings to the project.

Although the seventh team member (Gertiana Williams) has never worked with Himmel & Wilson before, she has served as an associate consultant with Dick Waters and his firm; PROVIDENCE Associates (previously HBW Associates). Himmel & Wilson has worked with Mr. Waters and/or PROVIDENCE/HBW on more than forty projects over the last twelve years.

4. Evidence of ability to provide the specified product and service by stated deadlines.

Himmel & Wilson has successfully conducted a number of major studies under very stringent timelines. We believe that your contact with our references will confirm that we have demonstrated our ability to deliver a quality product in a timely fashion. We also submit the fact that we have many “repeat” clients as evidence of our ability to meet project expectations and deadlines. We have conducted multiple studies/projects for several state library agencies including the Nevada State Library and Archives, the Ohio State Library, the Oregon State Library, and the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

5. Experience in planning and using electronic information systems and resources as used in libraries.

While several of the consulting team members bring a solid knowledge of electronic resources to the project, Bill Wilson will take the leading role in aspects of this project that involve electronic services and resources. Bill has a long history as an innovator in the area of library technology. He has a solid understanding of technology infrastructure, resources, and policy.

Bill designed and implemented a microcomputer based acquisitions control system and automated “books-by-mail” circulation at the Winding Rivers Library System in the late 1970s. He introduced the first local area network of PCs in a Wisconsin library in the mid 1980s and used it to provide the public with electronic access to genealogical resources, community information and access to periodical holdings. He was responsible for the first implementation of integrated automation systems for a municipal library and spearheaded the successful effort to bring about the first countywide online public library catalog, which served more than twenty library facilities in thirteen political jurisdictions in Milwaukee County Wisconsin. Prior to the widespread availability of the Internet, he was instrumental in the creation of Milwaukee’s “free-net.”

While serving as Wisconsin’s State Librarian, Bill was on the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board, the University of Wisconsin System Learning and Information Technology Executive Committee and on the Wisconsin Educational Technology Board. He successfully advocated for the inclusion of public libraries in Wisconsin’ “TEACH Wisconsin” program that continues to provide training, technical support, and equipment to public libraries. Under Bill’s leadership, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction moved the responsibility for their information technology and educational statistics operations into the State Library agency to form what is now known as the Division for Libraries, Technology, and Community Learning. He also successfully advocated for making affordable Internet access available to all public libraries through a project known as “BadgerNet” which enabled public libraries to access the first online databases available to the public that were licensed through the state library agency.

Himmel & Wilson was involved in planning for virtual library initiatives in Michigan and in Idaho. Our firm has also conducted evaluations of several statewide database projects including Indiana’s INSPIRE program. In addition, we conducted an evaluation of the provision of an expanded set of electronic databases provided to all residents of Marion County Indiana through funding provided by the Indianapolis Foundation. We were recently involved in evaluating experimentation with several e-book fomats by a large consortium of libraries in Wisconsin.

Bill was recently appointed to the American Library Association – Washington Office – Information Technology Policy Advisory Committee.

6. Experience planning and delivering continuing education.

Three of consultants have teaching experience in master’s level library science programs. Several others have served as guest lecturers in library schools. Members of our consulting team are also frequent presenters at library conferences. The Himmel & Wilson partners, who will serve as co-principal consultants have presented programs at American Library Association conferences, Public Library Association conferences and a variety of national, state, and regional conferences. They have conducted “staff day” training for a variety of individual public libraries including the Spokane (WA) Public Library and the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County (OH) and have been featured in continuing education events for North Carolina’s Public Library Directors and for the staff of New Jersey library cooperatives. Mr. Wilson and Mr. Waters will be presenting a program for the Arizona Library Association in December on the use of geographic information systems (GIS) to identify branch library service areas and to gauge library “market penetration.” Dr. Himmel and Mr. Wilson will be presenting a program on the use of Federal State Cooperative System (FSCS) library statistics at the upcoming meeting of data coordinators from state library agencies.

7. Experience in statewide planning.

We believe that our firm has been involved in more studies for state library agencies during the past five years than any other library consulting firm. Following is a brief listing of recent projects.

  • Arkansas State Library (a comprehensive study of public library service including a review of the state library agency) - completed 1999
  • California State Library (a study of interlibrary loan and direct loan reimbursement programs) - completed 2000
  • Connecticut State Library (a study of Cooperative Library Service Units - Connecticut's multitype library service agencies) - completed 2001
  • Georgia Office of Public Library Services (a study of library services to special needs populations including a review of Regional and Subregional Libraries for the Blind and Physically Handicapped) - completed 2000
  • Idaho State Library (a business plan for a statewide network of libraries) - completed 1998
  • Indiana State Library (an evaluation of Indiana's LSTA program (1997 - 2002) – completed 2001
  • Maryland Division for Library Services (a feasibility study for a statewide delivery system) - completed December, 1998
  • Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (study of public library governance and funding) - completed 1999
  • Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (an evaluation of Massachusetts’ LSTA program) - completed 2002
  • Library of Michigan (a statewide technology plan) - completed 1998
  • Minnesota Library Development & Services Division (a statewide resource sharing study) - completed 1999
  • Montana State Library (study of the State Library and of the Montana LSTA program) - completed 2001
  • Nevada State Library and Archives (an evaluation of Nevada’s LSTA program) - completed 2002
  • Nevada State Library and Archives (development of a statewide strategic plan) - completed 2002
  • State Library of Ohio (a study of regional library systems) - completed August, 1998
  • State Library of Ohio (an evaluation of Ohio’s LSTA program) - completed 2002
  • Oregon State Library (a study of a statewide referred reference service) - completed August, 1998
  • Oregon State Library (an evaluation of Oregon’s LSTA program) - completed 2001
  • West Virginia Library Commission (a comprehensive study of public library service including a review of the state library agency) - completed 1999

The projects listed above fall into several different categories. Most involve both evaluation and planning elements.

8. Knowledge of the role of state library agencies.

Our firm is thoroughly familiar with the variety of roles carried out by state library agencies. We are aware of both the similarities and the significant differences that exist among agencies based upon factors such as their placement in state government, the specific authority and requirements of state statutes, and the unique history of library service in the state. In addition to our extensive experience working with state library agencies that is outlined above, the Himmel and Wilson partners are the authors of The Functions and Roles of State Library Agencies, which was published by the American Library Association in 2000. Finally, Mr. Wilson served as the chief officer of Wisconsin’s state library agency and the focus of Dr. Himmel doctoral dissertation was state library agencies.


Page last modified: February 2, 2011