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IMLS Report: Libraries are a Vital Community Resource in the Information Age
The report can be viewed here. [PDF]
Washington, DC—The character of library services has changed dramatically with the advent of new information technologies, the continuous development of locally-tailored services, and the expectations of the 21st century library user, according to the first analysis of the Grants to States program by the Institute of Museum and Library Service (IMLS). The report, “Catalyst for Change: LSTA Grants to State Program and the Transformation of Libraries Services to the Public,” focuses on services provided through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grants to State Library Agencies, the single largest source of federal funding for the nation’s libraries and the only library grants that require state-wide planning. IMLS conducted the study to inform the American public, the Administration, Congress and the library community about the program’s contributions.
To address the growing demand for online services, libraries have added computer workstations, increased available bandwidth, and provided training in communities where they are often the sole provider of free access to the Internet. Some State Libraries Agencies are incorporating technology investments into their statewide strategic plans while other states manage such investments on a local or regional basis, according to the new report.
“The program’s flexibility is its greatest strength because it allows each state to tailor program services to the specific needs of its citizens. The unique nature of each state’s approach can present real challenges for evaluation because no two state programs are alike. It is like comparing apples, oranges, kiwis, and kumquats. But a common thread that connects these programs is a dedication to providing state-of-the-art programming and information services that meet a clear and compelling local need,” said Carlos Manjarrez, IMLS Associate Deputy Director for Research and Statistics.
To underscore this state-by-state variability, the report provides a two-page snapshot of immediate challenges, program goals for 2008-2012, and an exemplary project for each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
The report draws on the December 2008 analysis of 9,000 state program reports from the Grants to States Program between FY 2003 and FY 2006 by Ethel Himmel and Bill Wilson, a library consulting firm, and the annual State Library Agency Surveys collected by the National Center for Education Statistics and IMLS between 1998 and 2007.
Based on the data, IMLS identified three broad strategies advanced by Grants to States programming: human capital development, library service expansion and access, and development of information and technology infrastructure. The report also provides:
• a description of the Grants to States program also known as the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA); • a discussion of the local factors that affect state program plans; • a review of program activities submitted in state program annual reports; and an • an analysis of program expenditures.
“Libraries build community in many ways,” noted Laurie Brooks, Associate Deputy Director for Library Services. “Whether through preparing children for school, helping small businesses thrive, providing technology training for seniors, or imparting a new language, libraries are essential community resources in the information age. The Library Grants to States program provides an important opportunity to plan and support these vital community-building initiatives.”
About the Institute of Museum and Library Services The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit www.imls.gov.
The following is a text-only press release from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). An HTML version of this release can be read on the agency's Web site at http://www.imls.gov/news/2009/070109.shtm.
The report can be viewed at http://www.imls.gov/pdf/CatalystForChange.pdf