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Meeting of the Board of Regents | April 2003

Tuesday, April 1, 2003 - 6:30am




The Honorable the Members of the Board of Regents


Carole F. Huxley


Cultural Education


Deputy Commissioner�s Report


April 9, 2003




Update on Policy Implementation: New Century Libraries


Goals 1-5



 The attached report highlights progress made in implementing the plan of the Regents Library Commission to deliver 21st Century library services to all New Yorkers. Later this year the Regents and staff will begin a systematic review of the status of the Commission recommendation and strategies in place for the past two years. The memorandum and its attachments, prepared by Janet Welch as an update for the Commission members, provide some background for that assessment.

Despite the lack of legislative action on New Century Libraries during the last two years, we can report considerable progress toward implementation of a number of the recommendations presented to you by the Regents Commission on Library Services in July 2000. The Commission report continues to be the basis for State Library strategic planning and operational decisions. Existing resources have been shifted to provide incentives for implementation of the ten recommendations that are now library service policy.

We are making progress in building a strong statewide corps of library advocates (an element of recommendation 10) and have made particular progress in implementing NOVEL (recommendation 1), public library districts (recommendation 3) and other initiatives.




New Century Libraries: A Progress Report

March 2003

New Century Libraries is now a $107 million Regents priority budget and legislative initiative that would implement the 10 recommendations of the Regents Commission on Library Services. The Regents, the Commissioner of Education, and a growing group of staunch supporters and advocacy leaders are firmly committed to this initiative, and have pledged to work tirelessly to make it a reality.

Despite the lack of legislative action on New Century Libraries during the past two years, we can report considerable progress toward implementation of a number of the recommendations presented by the Commission to the Board of Regents in July 2000. The Commission report continues to be the basis for strategic planning and operational decisions. Existing resources have been shifted to provide incentives for implementing the following recommendations.

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


The New York State Library�s NOVEL Databases program (formerly the EmpireLink pilot project) is a vital and visible component of New Century Libraries and is a top priority of Commissioner Richard P. Mills.

NOVEL is now a powerful virtual library that gives New Yorkers full computer access to thousands of national and international newspapers and magazines, health and medical magazines and references, valuable business and investment information, and fun and educational material for adults and youngsters. All these resources are available free through local libraries.

Made possible by funding through the Federal LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act) grant program and officially introduced to the public in 2002, NOVEL opened a new era in library service. By the close of 2002, approximately 4,000 libraries across the State had become subscribers and were offering access to their users. Over 1,500 of those libraries also have the technological capacity to provide remote access to NOVEL from homes, schools, and offices. More than 6,000 libraries are eligible to subscribe, but many still do not have the technological capacity to do so.

To give NOVEL Databases the continued leadership and support that it needs as a priority program, the State Library is collaborating with the NOVEL Steering Committee, a statewide advisory group formed in 2001. The Steering Committee held an open meeting in November 2002 to plan for development of a portal that will integrate the services and resources brought together under NOVEL. The portal is one of the five NOVEL initiatives developed by a NOVEL Planning Team in 2001 after a series of intensive workshops and a public forum. The other initiatives are as follows: (1) Increase access to electronic resources on a statewide basis; (2) Expand resource sharing in New York State to improve electronic and traditional access to library resources for all users; (3) Develop a coordinated program for the digitization of information resources in New York libraries and other repositories; and (4) Enhance the availability of high-speed telecommunications for New York�s libraries across all regions of the State.

Attachments A, B, and C show NOVEL usage by database searches, progress in registering libraries for NOVEL, and current gaps in technological capacity. For more information on NOVEL, see the NOVEL website: (

New Century Libraries would invest $14 million in NOVEL to ensure that New Yorkers have the information they need to be knowledgeable and successful in the information age.

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


Since September 1999, Federal LSTA grants from the State Library to school library systems have served as incentives to bring the latest technologies into 329 school library media centers. Over the past five years, the State Education Department has delivered workshops, technical assistance and small grants in order to increase awareness of the importance of quality school library media programs and information literacy.

New Century Libraries would invest $15 million annually in New York�s public school students in high-need school districts to fund the school library services they need to be successful and close the performance gap.

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


Despite the lack of the additional funding or financial incentives proposed in New Century Libraries, New York voters have created 16 new public library districts since 1999. More than 25 libraries have expanded their chartered service areas to include communities that did not have a local library. As a result, 150,000 more New Yorkers now have a local public library, reducing the number of unserved from 1.3 million to 1.15 million. Attachment D shows the progress made in reducing the number of unserved New Yorkers.

Although we still have a long way to go to close gaps in library service, these figures represent significant progress in moving toward the Commission�s goal of quality public library service for all New Yorkers. Many of the votes were hard-fought, and successes have been the result of much effort by State Library staff, the Regents, and the local libraries and communities.

To assist libraries that want to become public library districts, the State Library website includes a Public Library District How-To Kit: ( It has been specially developed as an aid in informing library boards, library staff, school administrators, community leaders, and the public about public library districts. Library professionals and advocates can select kit components that are appropriate for their audiences.

In addition, the State Library provided LSTA grants (2002�03) to two public library systems (Pioneer and Southern Adirondack) to enable them to assist member libraries interested in becoming public library districts.

New Century Libraries would provide $10 million in funding to help more libraries move to the public library district model, including $2.6 million in improvement incentives to non-urban libraries; $4 million in enabling incentives to public libraries; $3 million for public library systems; and $400,000 that will enable the State Library to help libraries make the transition.

Recommendation: 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.

The State Education Department is proposing new legislation this year that would allow the addition of an annual inflationary increase to the formulas in statute for aid to libraries. Other new legislation proposed this year would ensure formula stabilization to prevent a precipitous loss of library aid due to population changes reflected in the 2000 census.

The State Library also offered a new category of LSTA grants for 2002�03 called "Service Improvement." These grants have provided incentives to library systems and central libraries to conduct a variety of pilot projects aimed at achieving excellence. One such project provided Public Library Association "Planning for Results" training to library leaders from every public library system in the state. Another LSTA grant to New York�s reference and research library resources systems (3Rs) is supporting an exciting statewide LIBQUAL project that will help 80 college and research libraries, including the State Library, to evaluate and improve their services.

New Century Libraries would invest $10 million to eliminate uneven levels of support for libraries throughout New York, $4 million for cost-of-living increases, and $2 million for NY EXCELS to enable every library and library system to achieve excellence.

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


The Commissioner and the Regents have used the media to focus public attention on the estimated $1 billion needed for public library construction in New York State. As a result, the Legislature provided an additional $1 million in State funds in 2000�01 and another $1 million in 2002�03 for public library construction projects. Many libraries also received legislative member items for construction projects.

New Century Libraries would invest $20 million initially and $30 million annually thereafter to renovate, upgrade, and modernize public library buildings.

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


New Century Libraries would invest $10.2 million for an Urban Library Initiative.

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


Studies have shown that children who continue to read during the summer when school is not in session perform better in the fall when school resumes. New York�s Statewide Summer Reading Program, supported by Federal LSTA funds, has grown remarkably since the Commission identified that program as a priority in 2000. In working toward a goal of having one million young people participate in the program by the summer of 2003, enrollment has increased from 172,000 in 1999 to 825,854 in 2002.

To help boost participation in the 2003 program, the State Library increased the amount of the LSTA grant that funds program development. This year it included the cost of hiring a public-relations firm to provide professional assistance in publicizing the program statewide. Ideas for increasing enrollment are under development and include the following: incentive prizes from Scholastic, Inc.; a partnership with museums statewide through the New York State Tourism "Museum Passport" campaign; collaboration with school districts and school library systems; online books and book chat for teens. Attachment E shows progress toward a program enrollment in the Summer Reading Program of 1 million.

Computer and Internet technology has been made more widely available to New Yorkers through grants obtained by the State Library through the U.S. Library program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. New Yorkers in low-income communities were provided access to computers, the Internet and digital information through a $16.6 million grant to public libraries and branches. Technology training is provided to staff of public libraries through a recent $257,000 Gates Foundation grant. Because of the pivotal role of library staff in helping people use computers and navigate the Internet, this grant provides them with basic and advanced skills in teaching the use of technology, including accessibility for people with disabilities and for non-English speakers.

New Century Libraries would invest $1 million annually to strengthen library literacy and reading programs for adults and families.

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


In 2001, the Regents, the State Library, the Office of Higher Education, the Higher Education Initiative, the New York Library Association (NYLA), the reference and research library resources systems, the Big 11 Research Libraries, and other partners worked collaboratively to build upon the Commission�s recommendations. The result is a strong academic and research initiative that includes $4 million for CACHE (Core Academic Collection for Higher Education), $4 million for CHARISMA (Coordinated Help for Academic and Research Institutions Statewide Models Aid) and $2 million in additional funds for coordinated collection development among college and university libraries. The Regents added this $10 million to the New Century Libraries proposal for 2002.

The Academic and Research Initiative would now be an investment of $15.1 million annually to increase access to the resources of the State�s academic, special, and research libraries for all New York�s students and faculty, and an additional $700,000 for special library services to individuals with disabilities.


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


The Regents recently added $2 million to New Century Libraries to recruit and retain a skilled and diverse library workforce. Deans of the seven graduate schools of library and information science in New York State have expressed their support for this initiative and are enthusiastic about partnering with the State Library and library systems to recruit people to librarianship, expand distance-learning opportunities, and develop cooperative training programs. The initiative includes scholarship and subsidy programs, statewide and regional programs to help local libraries attract and retain highly qualified librarians, and training programs for library policymakers, including trustees.

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


In May 2002 and February 2003, the State Library, the New York Library Association (NYLA), the New York State Association of Library Boards (NYSALB), and other partners hosted Statewide Advocacy Leadership meetings in Albany, Buffalo and Long Island. Featuring Commissioner Richard P. Mills, Chancellor Robert M. Bennett, Regent Robert M. Johnson, and Senator John J. Flanagan, the meetings involved stakeholders in developing an advocacy strategy for New Century Libraries. The enthusiastic attendees participated in advocacy clinics and group discussions, and boosted the efforts of a fledgling advocacy coalition that has gathered considerable momentum. Advocacy partners include NYLA, NYSALB, Empire Friends, the New York State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB), Friends of the New York State Library, New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA), and other organizations.

Related advocacy activities include the following:

� An advocacy clinic at the annual NYLA conference in Buffalo in October 2002 addressed common issues and problems faced by libraries and systems as they seek local and state support.

� A library and cultural information resources advocacy listserv now enables advocates to share ideas, strategies, news about important library issues, and other information.

� Advocacy resource materials are available through the NYLA website ( and the New Century Libraries website (, with links to other resources.

� Commissioner Mills has requested that the District Superintendents of BOCES become involved in advocacy for New Century Libraries. Since 2002, thirty BOCES District Superintendents have hosted meetings for community leaders, library leaders, and the educational community to promote discussion and advocacy for New Century Libraries.

� The Regents, the Commissioner, and the State Library continue to pursue an aggressive advocacy plan to create new partnerships and promote New Century Libraries.