Full Board


Carole F. Huxley


Library Commission Report


August 11, 2006


2, 3, 4 and 5






Issue for Discussion


What is the status of implementation of the ten recommendations of the Regents Commission on Library Services and what changes are needed?


Proposed Handling


This item will come before the full Board at the September meeting for discussion.  The review will be completed in January 2007.


Procedural History


The New York State Board of Regents appointed the Regents Commission on Library Services in 1998 and charged its members with taking a visionary look at library service in New York State and developing a comprehensive set of policy recommendations to improve library service for all New Yorkers.


For more than two years, the Commission identified problems, discussed possible solutions, researched library programs in other states, surveyed public opinion, and held hearings across the state.  The process culminated in a detailed report that laid out ten recommendations intended to enable New Yorkers to realize the benefits of a strong statewide network of libraries and library systems in the 21st century.


The Regents unanimously adopted the ten recommendations as Regents policy in July 2000.  The Board subsequently designated the recommendations as State Library priorities, and the recommendations became the foundation for the Regents priority legislative proposal known as New Century Libraries.


In 2004, the Regents reviewed the Commissionís ten recommendations and the New Century Libraries proposal.  NOVEL and public library construction were identified as legislative priorities. 


In June 2006, the Regents Cultural Education Committee approved a plan to undertake a new review this year.


Background Information


In the New York State budget for 2006-07, libraries fared better than in recent years.  The budget includes an increase of nearly $20 million in Library Aid:  $2.7 million, based on the 2000 census with hold-harmless to calculate aid; $3 million for the library systems; and $14 million for public library construction and renovation.  Despite the progress made in obtaining New Century Libraries funding this year, and the use of federal funds and grants to implement some components of the program, the Regents have a long way to go to achieve all the objectives set forth by the Regents Commission.  It is now six years since the Commission issued its final report, and it is time to reassess progress and consider the Commissionís policies, strategies, and recommendations in the context of current needs, research, data, opportunities, and USNY goals.




The Regents should discuss the policy review plan and the status of implementation of the recommendations.


Timetable for Implementation


Implementation should begin immediately with full Board discussion in September and completion in January 2007.






Regents Commission on Library Services

Recommendations: Progress and Challenges

Board of Regents Policy Discussion Paper


Progress and Challenges: Update

Purpose of the Review: To assess the progress made toward implementation of the following 10 recommendations set forth in the final report of the Regents Commission on Library Services, and to consider the Commissionís policies, strategies, and recommendations in the context of current needs, research, data, opportunities, and USNY goals.

Recommendation 1: Create NOVEL, the New York Online Virtual Electronic Library, to deliver high-quality, reliable digital information to all New Yorkers

Where we are: NOVEL currently provides an online collection of electronic full-text magazines, newspapers, books, and encyclopedias through public, academic, school, and special libraries. New Yorkers can also access NOVEL remotely by using a New York State driver license. Currently, 5,253 libraries are using NOVEL.

Use of NOVEL is soaring and local awareness of the program is growing. The annual number of NOVEL searches increased 1400 percent between 2001 and 2006 to 30 million.

Where we need to be: We need to catch up with other states, including New Jersey, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Texas, in providing access to electronic library resources. Nearly 1500 libraries in New York State, primarily school libraries, remain without access to NOVEL.

NOVEL is currently funded entirely by federal LSTA funds. If NOVEL is to deliver access to the kinds of research and other online materials New Yorkers need, we must find ways to stimulate ongoing, sustained state funding for the program.

Recommendation 2: Ensure that all New Yorkís students are information literate by providing strong school library media programs that include appropriately certified professional staff, adequate resources, and technology.

Where we are: Some school library collections have been automated with the help of federal LSTA Database Development Incentive Program grants. Certification requirements for school library media specialists have been strengthened to ensure that New Yorkís students benefit from qualified library professionals.

Where we need to be: We need to improve student access to library resources and technology, including NOVEL. Approximately 860 elementary schools still lack a certified school library media specialist.

Recommendation 3: Promote the availability of local public library service to all New Yorkers and improve local support for public libraries through the formation of Public Library Districts.

Where we are: Since 1999, 27 new public library districts have been created. Local public library service has been extended to 260,801 residents who previously had none.

Training and expert consultation services have been provided to library directors and trustees on creating public library districts, and a how-to guide and Public Library District website have been developed. Further support was provided through a partnership leading to creation of the New York Library Association Public Library Districts Statewide Taskforce.

Where we need to be: We need to provide increased technical assistance and initiate incentive aid to help high-need public libraries implement a public library district model.

Recommendation 4: Promote equitable library services for all New Yorkers through a need-based formula to reduce disparities in public library funding and create NY EXCELS to promote service excellence in all types of libraries and library systems through enabling and incentive aid.

Where we are: The 2006Ė07 budget includes a $2.7 million increase in state library aid to conform to the 2000 census with a hold-harmless provision and $3 million in new funds for library systems.

Where we need to be: We need to help raise the level of service to a minimum standard recommended by the Regents Commission and enable more equitable access statewide. In 2004, public libraries received only $4.84 per capita in state funding compared with, for example, $8.61 in Maryland, $6.87 in Massachusetts, and $5.03 in Pennsylvania.

Recommendation 5: Provide support for public library construction, expansion, and renovation to ensure that New Yorkís libraries are accessible to all library users and can accommodate advances in technology.

Where we are: Libraries received a one-time increase in state aid of $14 million for public library construction in FY 2006-07.

Where we need to be: The construction and renovation needs of the stateís 1100 public library buildings are estimated at more than $1.7 billion. New Yorkís ongoing statewide funding for library construction remains at only $800,000 per year.

Recommendation 6: Improve the capacity of New Yorkís urban public libraries to meet the unique needs of diverse library users in underserved, densely populated communities.

Where we are: In the State Libraryís Making It Real! recruitment grant project, funded by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, sixty percent of the scholarship recipients are from diverse backgrounds.

Where we need to be: We need to assist libraries with the resources to expand branch library hours, and to expand language programs, including collection development in world languages, programming such as English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), and citizenship classes.

Recommendation 7: Strengthen the ability of New Yorkís libraries to help library users acquire basic English literacy, information literacy, and computer literacy skills in their communities.

Where we are: The New York State Libraryís Statewide Summer Reading Program has grown from 172,000 participants in 1999 to well over one million children in 2005.

Where we need to be: The goal for the Statewide Summer Reading Program is 1.5 million participants. The program continues to be funded entirely by federal LSTA funds. State funding would enable the programís expansion to meet its goal, and would enhance adult collections and initiatives focused on English literacy and computer literacy.

Recommendation 8: Enhance access to the specialized resources held by New Yorkís academic, special, and research libraries to improve educational achievement, economic development, and health care for all New Yorkers.

Where we are: The New York State Library has increased access to its collections; all New Yorkers over 18 can now enjoy borrowing privileges at the State Research Library.

Where we need to be: We need to improve New Yorkersí access to specialized electronic research and development tools of value to scholars and researchers, and to medical information programs for health-care professionals and consumers. State support would stimulate existing collaborative efforts to increase access, and could also make available the specialized online business and technology resources essential for New Yorkís competitiveness.

Recommendation 9: Support and enhance a highly skilled library workforce to meet the information needs of New Yorkers.

Where we are: A Librarians for the 21st Century recruitment grant is helping the State Library to train librarian recruits in partnership with the stateís library schools and library systems. A Library Careers Website and accompanying campaign promote librarianship as a career choice to diverse groups.

Where we need to be: We should take steps to implement the certification and re-certification process to promote excellence in the workforce, collaborate to enhance distance-learning opportunities that will attract and retain librarians in urban areas, and initiate a statewide training program for the stateís 7000 public library trustees.

Recommendation 10: Provide leadership for change by strengthening the expertise and accountability of the New York State Library and by creating a statewide advocacy coalition.

Where we are: A series of New Century Libraries Leadership Meetings with Commissioner Mills and leaders and supporters of the library community have been held statewide. Statewide partnerships to promote libraries have been developed.

Where we need to be: We should provide education programs that will generate library awareness and support.