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.”
To receive a paper copy of the report, please contact IMLS at firstname.lastname@example.org.