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Meeting of the Board of Regents | June 2007

Tuesday, June 5, 2007 - 11:00pm

sed seal                                                                                                 







Jeffrey Cannell    




Advocacy Plan for NOVELNY



June 5, 2007






Goals 1-5







Issue for Discussion


How to devise new and effective ways to gain support for permanent, ongoing state funding for NOVELNY (New York Online Virtual Electronic Library).


Reason(s) for Consideration


Review of policy.


Proposed Handling


This issue will come before the Cultural Education Committee for discussion at the June meeting.


Procedural History


The Regents are committed to the goal of ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to high-quality information resources, i.e., the information they need to succeed in school, career, and business and to enrich their lives. To this end, the Regents adopted as Regents policy the initiatives described by the Regents Commission on Library Services, including recommendation No. 1:


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


NOVELNY (formerly “NOVEL”) has been a Regents priority budget and legislative proposal since 2001. To date, advocacy for NOVELNY has not succeeded in gaining enough support with the Executive or the State Legislature to produce funding for NOVELNY in the state budget. The fact that the 2007–08 budget once again included no funding—despite Governor Spitzer’s inaugural call for up-to-date, state-of-the-art, Internet-connected libraries—indicates a need for a new approach in NOVELNY advocacy. The new approach requires a plan that will ensure a greater understanding of NOVELNY and its importance to the people of New York State within the Legislature and a means of connecting with the apparent interest in statewide online information within the Governor’s Office.


Background Information


With Regents approval, the State Library initiated the successful statewide pilot project to create NOVEL in 2001. To fund the NOVEL pilot as a demonstration project, the State Library used temporary federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds that had previously been used for competitive grant programs for library systems and central libraries. Since its creation, NOVEL has developed into a fundamental information resource for more than 5,000 libraries in the state. 


NOVELNY now provides a core collection of thousands of high-quality general electronic resources, searchable in full text, for all ages. The core collection includes newspapers from around the country, magazines and journals, health and history reference sources, science publications, and help for job-seekers and business owners. These resources are available to all New Yorkers through more than 5,000 public, school, college, university, and special libraries. Individuals may gain remote access to NOVELNY directly from any computer by using their local public library card, New York State driver license, or non-driver ID number.


NOVELNY resources serve as the basic components of many libraries’ contemporary online collections, especially in high-need communities. In all libraries, including many large public, college, and university libraries, NOVELNY creates significant cost savings by enabling library funds to be used to purchase specific additional materials for individual collections. Even some of the largest academic institutions in the state have benefited in this way.


The State Education Department purchases statewide licenses that allow it to offer cost-effective access to these online resources through NOVELNY. Some of the licenses are very expensive. Many libraries in New York State would have no online resources to offer their students and communities without NOVELNY.


To date, NOVELNY has been supported only by temporary federal LSTA funds, which are designed to stimulate new initiatives but not sustain them over time. Congress may decide to discontinue or reduce these funds, which would place the future of NOVELNY in jeopardy. Losing NOVELNY would be detrimental to all libraries; it would be disastrous for those that rely solely on NOVELNY for their online information.


New York lags behind 34 other states, including New Jersey, Virginia, Ohio, Alabama, and North Carolina, in per-capita support for providing statewide online resources, including advanced research and information tools that students, workers, small business owners, and researchers need to be successful and competitive in a global economy.


A state investment to sustain and expand the NOVELNY pilot project and make it a permanent state program would provide an indispensable online resource for all New Yorkers while creating significant and necessary savings for New York’s local taxpayers. The NOVELNY pilot project currently saves libraries more than $87 million per year through centralized statewide licensing. Every dollar spent by the state on NOVELNY resources would cost individual local libraries $35 in local tax dollars to purchase on their own.




The Regents should support implementation of a refocused advocacy plan that will generate a greater understanding of the value and potential of NOVELNY in the Legislature and the Governor’s Office and stimulate permanent, ongoing state funding to support and expand it.