Friday, March 30, 2012


I attended an LSTA (Library Services & Technology Act) five-year plan needs assessment meeting this week. In Michigan, LSTA funds projects like:

-MeL databases and MeLCat
-Summer reading program support (themes, a manual, graphics, workshops)
-E-rate training
-Plinkit (fully functional web page design at no cost to libraries)
-Surveys and evaluations of the LSTA five year plan

(More information on LSTA-funded projects is available here.)

The meeting started out with a presentation about the Michigan eLibrary, including its budget, the database selection process, and an overview of some of the newer databases added in 2011. Governor Snyder added $950,000 for MeL in 2011/12, and is expected to add $800,000 more in the 2012/13 budget. This is added to the $4,287,639 bottom line for MeL expenses ($3,236,287 for MeL databases and $1,051,352 for MeLCat in state fiscal year 2012).

The second presentation covered:
-What LSTA is: the primary federal funding source for libraries. Funds provided through the Institute of Museum and Library Services by the Museum and Library Services Act of 2010. Funds are sent to each state through the state library agency (Library of Michigan in our case).

-What the rules are for spending LSTA money: Each state must have a five-year plan on how they will use LSTA funds. This plan includes goals. In the second half of the day, small groups discussed the current goals and changes we thought were important for the next five years. LSTA money may not be used for lobbying, advertising, or salaries/materials not directly in support of grant activites.

-What state funds are required: The state must not replace state funds with federal funds. Michigan has to match a percentage of the money it receives through LSTA and show "maintenance of effort." Since state aid has declined in Michigan a few years in a row, we have had to ask for waivers in the "maintenance of effort" category.

-The Museum and Library Services Act of 2010 has 9 purposes and 8 priorities. LSTA funds must be spent on activities that align with them. The list of goals, priorities, and purposes can be read here.

-The Library of Michigan must also be able to report outputs and outcomes to IMLS. Outputs are statistics like how many people came/participated/etc. Outcomes are what happened to those people as a result of their participation.

The second half of the day focused on small group discussions, and report-outs to the full group, on six questions provided by the Library of Michigan. We were encouraged to turn in our sheets at the end of the day so that they could read everyone's notes, so I don't have the actual questions in front of me anymore. They included ideas like "What do your patrons need" and "What will your patrons need in the next five years." Some interesting ideas:

-Several groups mentioned that their patrons need mobile access to things like MeLCat and MeL databases.

-Several groups mentioned that their patrons need access to technology and training. They don't have access to equipment or internet connections at home and/or small libraries around the state don't have adequate access to technology to meet their community's demand.

-Several groups mentioned that their patrons need access to eBooks and information in electronic formats. They also need for their staff to have access to training on e-reader and other devices that their patrons use to access information (such as smart phones).

-A few groups mentioned that the current NCIP problem has created a huge burden on their staff to keep up with MeLCat use by their patrons. Having to perform transactions in two separate software platforms is inefficient. A need was to have the NCIP problem solved for libraries who do not use Innovative Interfaces as their primary ILS.

There were a lot of ideas thrown around, and the Library of Michigan will use them to write their next five-year plan. They had two more needs assessment meetings at different locations around the state this week. It will be interesting to see what they come up with! Five years is a long time to look forward in terms of what technologies might be available then.

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