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Meeting of the Board of Regents | October 2007

Monday, October 1, 2007 - 11:20pm

sed seal                                                                                                 







Jeffrey Cannell




Review of the Implementation of the Recommendations of the Regents Commission on Library Services



October 1, 2007




Goals 1-5







Issue for Discussion


The Regents will review a report on the implementation of the ten recommendations of the Regents Commission on Library Services in the context of their overall P–16 education reform strategy. The report includes an assessment of progress to date, a description of remaining needs, and proposals for future actions.


Reason(s) for Consideration


Review of policy.


Proposed Handling


This report will come before the full Board of Regents for discussion at its October meeting.


Procedural History


The ten recommendations of the Regents Commission on Library Services, outlined in the Commission’s final report, Meeting the Needs of All New Yorkers: Library Service in the New Century (, have provided the basis for New York’s library initiatives since 2000. The first extensive review of the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations was conducted in 2004.


Background Information


The Regents Commission on Library Services was appointed in 1998 to develop and recommend to the Board of Regents a vision for 21st century library service and to propose ways to achieve the greatest access to library service. The Commission members represented all types of library institutions and organizations in New York State, as well as the education and business communities.


The Commission authorized two surveys by the Center for Applied Research in Library and Information Science, based at the University at Buffalo. One survey addressed public library issues; the second focused on school library media programs and their impact on student achievement. The Commission also asked Dr. James B. Chapin to report on and analyze the demographics of New York State. His report, Demographics of New York State, 1920–1998, provided a context for the Commission’s broad examination of library services.


The Commission held two rounds of regional public hearings over a two-year period. The first round of five hearings offered the public an opportunity to discuss the future of New York’s library services and suggest improvements. The second round obtained input on a draft of the Commission’s report. More than 500 New Yorkers, representing a broad range of constituents from the general public; the school, academic, and business communities; and state and national library organizations, provided testimony. Panel presentations and open discussions at Annual Conferences of the New York Library Association provided opportunities for further comment. Finally, six regional focus groups discussed issues involving the three types of library systems.


In its final report, the Commission articulated its conclusions about the libraries in New York State and presented a vision to transform them and provide all New Yorkers with access to quality library services. To implement that vision, the Commission offered the ten recommendations outlined in the attached document. Shortly after the release of the Commission report in July 2000, the Regents adopted those recommendations as Regents policy. Since that time, they have provided the basis for New York’s library initiatives, with periodic review by the Regents and ongoing reevaluation by the State Library and the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries.




The Regents should review the progress in implementing library policy since the Regents Commission issued its report and discuss strategies for future progress.











A Review: Implementation of the Recommendations of the

Regents Commission on Library Services


In 2000, the New York State Board of Regents Commission on Library Services issued its final report ( and ten recommendations “to deliver 21st century library services to all New Yorkers.” Those recommendations, constituting a bold policy to transform New York’s libraries, quickly became Regents policy. They now provide the foundation for the library components of the proposed legislation known as the New York Knowledge Initiative.

This report concludes a year-long process that included (1) an assessment of the progress made toward implementation of the recommendations set forth by the Regents Commission on Library Services, and (2) a review of the Commission’s objectives, recommendations, and strategies in the context of current needs, research, data, opportunities, and the Regents overall P-16 education reform strategy. (Appendix A outlines the steps in the review process.) A similar review of the Commission’s recommendations was conducted in 2004.

Research and extensive review with the Regents and library and community leaders resulted in the following revisions or restatements of focus and priorities in the implementation of the Regents Commission recommendations. The proposed actions include updated legislative and implementation strategies.


Recommendation-by-Recommendation Summary

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

Progress to Date: While the creation of the NOVELNY pilot project, followed by a 1,300-percent increase in its use between 2001 and 2007, is a positive step forward, New York continues to lag far behind many other states in providing support for online library resources. NOVELNY is still supported solely by temporary federal funds.

Comments: From a school library system director: “New York ranks 35th out of 50 in expenditures on online databases; this is not consistent with ranking first in tax assessments, and second in overall education budget. [While I was teaching in North Carolina], the access to an extensive list of high-quality databases…through a state-coordinated program was profound. I miss that level of access in New York.”

Proposed Actions: This review process has revealed an increasingly urgent need to expand the current NOVELNY pilot project to form a Statewide Internet Library for colleges and universities, research and development, businesses, and K–12 students. To achieve this end, the New York Knowledge Initiative proposes an investment of state funds as follows:

•         An annual appropriation of funds to provide 24/7 access to a high-quality, robust collection of online resources, also providing substantial savings per year to local communities.

•         Annual funding for New York History Plus—a collaborative project to digitize and make accessible through the Statewide Internet Library the rare and unique resources in the collections of The New York Public Library, the New York State Library, and other library collections that support the statewide P–16 curriculum.


2.      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.

Progress to Date: More than 3,500 public school, nonpublic school, and charter school libraries are now participating in the NOVELNYpilot project. School Library Materials Aid was increased from $6.00 to $6.25 in 2007.

New York


still needs to improve student access to library resources and technology, including a Statewide Internet Library. Approximately 860 elementary schools still lack a certified school library media specialist. Some successful schools spend as little as $17 per pupil on school library materials; the statewide average is $13 per pupil; and New York City spends only $6 per pupil.

Comments: From a Regents Commission member: “…Thousands of NYC students have a greater level of access to online resources as a result of the NOVELNY pilot project. But many school libraries lack the basic high-speed capability necessary for accessing NOVELNY. This means that of the one million-plus students in NYC public, private, and parochial schools, the thousands with access to NOVELNY still represent only a fraction of the students who…would benefit from the online resources that NOVELNY might provide….”

Proposed Actions:  Expand the current NOVELNY pilot project to form a robust Statewide Internet Library for all New York’s students. Seek an increase to $10 per pupil in School Library Materials Aid.


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.

Progress to Date: Since 1999, 30 new public library districts have been created. Local public library service has been extended to 283,745 residents who previously had none, but one million still have no local library.

The State Library has provided training and expert consultation services to library directors and trustees on creating public library districts, and a how-to guide and Public Library District website have been developed.

Comments: From a Regents Commission member: “…Public library districts are growing throughout the state even with little formal support. I firmly believe this effort will fundamentally change public library service in our state. Right now, the Public Library District Task Force we envisioned is a few hardy volunteers helping colleagues throughout New York. We need to formalize this process on a State Library level.”

Proposed Actions: The State Library will provide increased technical assistance and seek incentive aid to help interested libraries make the transition to a public library district model.


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.

Progress to Date: The Regents Commission recognized a need to ensure equitable access to knowledge resources, regardless of physical, economic, or geographic barriers. The state’s network of library systems is highly cost-effective; public library systems provide $13 in services to local public libraries for every $1 of state funds they receive. However, permanent state funding for systems has not increased since 1998. The one-time supplementary appropriations of $3 million in 2006–07 and $8 million in 2007–08 did not meet the ongoing rising costs of providing services and materials to member libraries.

Comments: From a county library director: “Our rate of growth with regard to local funding vastly exceeds that of state funding over the past 10 years—and even at that, we are still running a deficit budget. It is difficult to leverage local support when state support remains flat and local legislators are increasingly aware of that fact.… State funding should be increasing as a stimulus for local funding.”

Proposed Actions: Seek increased annual investment in State Aid for Library Systems to enable all types of library systems to strengthen system services and cooperative ventures.


5.      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.

Progress to Date: The state budgets for 2006–07 and 2007–08 each allocated one-time funding of $14 million for a public library construction matching grant program.

Comments: A recent survey of New York’s public libraries documented a remaining need for construction and renovation projects totaling $2.1 billion. More than 40 percent of the state’s 1,100 public library buildings are over 60 years old. These libraries lack adequate electrical wiring, space for collections and public-access computers, and access for the disabled.

Proposed Actions: The New York Knowledge Initiative proposes an annual state investment in matching Public Library Construction grants to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to safe, modern public library buildings. The match requirements should be reduced for those libraries located in high-need communities.


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

Progress to Date: The State Library’s Gates Foundation initiatives are serving the needs of many urban public libraries with Opportunity Online Hardware Grants and “train the trainer” professional development programs. Trainers delivered 47 workshops to 800 library staff members and trustees during 2006–07 on how to reach out to Hispanic residents.

Comments: From a Regents Commission member: “Our urban libraries deserve and need our support. This is where libraries make new Americans into productive members of our society. Keep fighting for urban aid.”

Proposed Actions: Continue and expand support from the Gates Foundation.


7.      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.

Progress to Date: The New York State Library’s Statewide Summer Reading Program has grown from 172,000 participants in 1999 to well over one million in 2006. The federally funded “Growing A Reader” grant project trained hundreds of librarians to offer parents and caregivers comprehensive programs of early-literacy services.

Comments:P–16 Education: A Plan for Action (State Education Department, November 2006) outlines a process for improving the education of New Yorkers from pre-K through adulthood and eliminating the achievement gap. It defines specific actions for libraries in improving literacy in support of Regents early-education policy and in support of improving academic outcomes for English-language learners.

Proposed Actions: Support public library literacy services that will enhance student achievement and raise academic outcomes at all levels, and develop partnerships with all sectors of the Education Department and USNY to improve early literacy. Growing Readers@the Library would expand research-based early-literacy programs in public libraries, increase Summer Reading Program participation to 1.5 million by 2010, provide online homework help, supply library materials and services for students with disabilities, strengthen library programs for English-language learners, and help ensure that New Yorkers have the literacy skills they need to succeed.


8.      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.

Progress to Date: The State Library has increased access to its collections by extending Research Library borrowing privileges to all New Yorkers 18 years and older and by digitizing some of its rare historical materials. In addition, the State Library is reaching out to the State Archives, the State Museum, library systems, other libraries, and groups to promote statewide collaboration for digitization and to build a more vast collection of electronic resources that will be available to colleges and universities, businesses, K–12 students, and researchers across the state.

Comments: From a Regents Commission member: “…a small investment in access to specialized research collections would provide an incredible return to the state’s economic, scientific, technological, and cultural enterprises.”

Proposed Actions: State investment in the Statewide Internet Library would provide academic, special, and research libraries with high-quality research and development and college-level knowledge databases, e‑journals, and data sets in science, technology, engineering, and medicine as well as coordinated access to digitized library treasures.


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

Progress to Date: A federal Librarians for the 21st Century “Making It REAL” recruitment grant is helping the State Library to train librarian recruits from diverse backgrounds in partnership with the state’s graduate library schools and library systems. A Library Careers Website and accompanying campaign promote librarianship as a career choice to diverse groups.

Comments: From a Regents Commission member: “I am…encouraged by the recruitment grant awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Promoting career awareness for librarianship…is vital if we are to replace ourselves with highly qualified and well-educated library professionals. But there is also the issue of retention and the quality of the work life of a library professional.”

Proposed Actions: The State Library will submit a proposal for “Making It REAL! Phase II”, a new project to expand and build on the original phase.


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

Progress to Date: A series of New Century Libraries Leadership Meetings with Commissioner Mills and leaders and supporters of the library community have been held since 2002. Statewide partnerships to promote libraries have been developed. The State Library and Library Development have recently made progress in filling leadership positions, but more remains to be done to advance implementation of the Regents Commission recommendations.

Comments: From a Regents Advisory Council member: “The lack of sufficient expert state assistance and support for libraries that are rechartering is a lost opportunity to improve local funding for libraries. A small state investment in more Library Development Specialist positions to provide increased expert consulting assistance to systems and local libraries would leverage a lot of local dollars for libraries.”

Proposed Actions: Expand the State Library’s leadership, coordination, and technical assistance for statewide services and programs.

The assessment of the progress made toward implementation of the recommendations of the Regents Commission on Library Services, and the review of the Commission’s objectives, recommendations, and strategies comprised the following steps:

•       Review of progress and challenges—an update on accomplishments six years after the Regents adopted the Commission’s recommendations as Regents policy

•             Evaluation—a formal assessment of the implementation of the major components of the Commission’s report

•       Examination of data—a review and evaluation of current relevant data on libraries and library services, including national and state-level data from public and private entities and data from the State Library and EMSC on the status of library services and progress on implementing the Commission’s recommendations

•         Research—a review and evaluation of current research in education and information technology (e.g., school libraries’ impact on student achievement, digitization, one-on-one learning)

•       Identification of new opportunities and challenges—an evaluation of new developments and their effects (e.g., technology, partnerships, globalization)

•       Communication development—crafting of new strategies to communicate Regents library priorities

•             USNY alignment—incorporation of library goals with USNY goals

•             Discussion—formal discussions of the review with the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries, Regents Commission members, Deans of New York State’s graduate library schools, the New York Library Association, the New York Higher Education Initiative, the Educational Conference Board, library system leaders, the NOVELNY Steering Committee, the New York State Association of Library Boards, and other units of OCE and SED