More on mini-grants and other subgrants

To amplify that section of the 5-year plan referring to libraries responding to changing demographics in their communities: The current thinking is that applicants eligible for LSTA will be encouraged to apply for mini-grants awarding small amounts of funding in order to perform a ‘community study.’ The study provides in-depth analysis of and input from the target constituencies, and indicates possible partners for providing services. Mini-grants will aid libraries in conducting community focus groups to solicit input from targets about the role of library services in their lives.

Application and evaluation processes must still be developed for this area of competitive mini-grants but the assumption is that it will be a simplified grant process. Grant criteria, too, must be created, but will doubtless focus on helping institutions facilitate community meetings that help libraries understand and be responsive to their constituents’ needs. The dollar amounts of these grants are also still to be determined. Mini-grant approval, like all Connecticut LSTA subgrants, will be at the discretion of ACLPD.

As to the subgrant process generally, Connecticut, like many states, uses its LSTA appropriation for supporting library initiatives and services on a statewide level and also distributes the funds through subgrants. See WebJunction for more information on LSTA in Connecticut.

Draft 5-Year LSTA Plan

The Advisory Council’s LSTA Planning Committee and the Connecticut State Library have completed a DRAFT of the plan for the use of federal library funds in Connecticut from 2007-2012. It is posted on WebJunction .

The committee reviewed the feedback from this blog and the focus groups and incorporated as many of the concerns as possible. The plan addresses needs for equal access to information resources, and library services to certain target populations (individuals with disabilities, persons from diverse cultural backgrounds, children, and older adults). New to the plan are goals related to library services to teens, digitization and assistance to libraries responding to changing demographics. This latter category will allow simplified sub-grants to libraries needing assistance with the primary steps of planning: communicating with potential partners and gathering input from the community.

This is still a draft and you will see a few places where we still need to insert some relevant numbers. The committee welcomes feedback from the library community. Please feel free to post your comments to this blog.

The final plan will be delivered to the Institute of Museum and Library Services on June 30th.

LSTA Evaluation

The evaluation of the impact of LSTA funds in Connecticut for the last five years was completed and submitted to the Institute of Museums and Library Services on March 30th. An Evaluation of Connecticut?s Five-Year Plan for the Use of Library Services and Technology Act Funds in Connecticut, 2003 – 2007 is now available on WebJunction Connecticut. A word of warning before you print it out, it’s 58 pages!

The LSTA Planning Committee is making progress on the plan for the next five years. The draft plan will be posted here within the month.

Focus Group Report

The State Library sponsored two focus groups in Southbury on Tuesday, February 27th, and
Willimantic on Friday, March 2nd. The intent of the focus groups was to gather information from librarians statewide to come to a greater understanding of the needs of Connecticut libraries and the trends they see affecting their future. Thank you to the attendees for taking time out of your busy schedules to help us with this process.

The LSTA Planning Committee would like to hear from others in the library community. Read through these issues and feel free to submit your comments through this blog.

Sharon Brettschneider
Members of both groups shared the issues they are presently facing, community needs that are not being met, concerns on how LSTA money is presently being allocated and how LSTA money can be used if it did not have specific criteria. In addition, participants were asked what the library could do to make for a better community.

Issues Connecticut Libraries Are Presently Facing:

• Inadequate funding
• Staffing
• Lack of IT staff
• Library policies are not consistent across the state
• Inadequate state aid to libraries
• Lack of recruitment efforts
o To entice qualified applicants
• Weak system for training
• Changing demographics
• Perception of school library vs. public library – specific roles not defined
• Lack of cooperation/collaboration between public and school libraries
• No Child Left Behind program impacting libraries
• Landlocked and building bound
• Aging infrastructure
• Sky rocketing energy costs
• How to allocate funds
o Determining the best use of budgeted dollars
• Competition for funding
• Keeping up with latest trends
• Struggling to add new technology for patrons
o Technology support and staff training
• Publicity and perception of libraries – (libraries are obsolete just Googlization of information retrieval)
• Shifts in use patterns – easy for people to not physically come to the library
• Staffing issues/retirement/succession – not an up and coming profession
• Volunteerism – coordinating/educating/training difficulties
• Drop off of volunteers
• Aging of the Friends of the Library group demographics
• Inadequate service and space for teens
• Not enough teens using the library
• Immigrants reluctant to use library
• Underserved populations
o Homebound
o Issues of economics and poverty
o Home Schooling
o Persons with disabilities
• IT automation – paying for equipment/tech support
• Non-competitive salaries
• Competition for funding with schools
• Image – Federal Government does not consider libraries education institutions
• New library users are underserved
o Not knowledgeable of modern library services
• Lack of education and training for staff
• Individual communities throughout the state are so different
• Lack of time
• Too dependent on local property taxes
• Lack of public relations
• Connecticard antiquated
• Some libraries are antiquated
• Communities not supportive of libraries
• Lack of mentoring

Concerns Regarding How LSTA Money Is Presently Being Allocated:

• Having to know how to write a grant
• Having to follow-up on all of the details and paperwork
• Special projects take up too much of the dollars
• Categories not general enough – too narrow
• Matching aspect of LSTA grant (can’t match money you don’t have)
• Grant process is a secret society (some participants)
• LSTA does not provide money for continuing growth and services
• No bricks and mortar
• Too much of a limit/too rigid for amount of money allocated per project
• Not enough funding for training
• Don’t know what is funded
• Old and boring basic library services not funded
• Too isolated and fragmented for under-served
• Information not being shared
• Timeframe for grant too short – timeline/structure to spend dollars
• Outcome based evaluation does not work for libraries
• System turns you off from applying for a grant
• Evaluations are too labor intensive to complete
• Timeline for grant funding does not match fiscal
• Evaluations not being shared
• Concerns about flexibility of state allocation when dollars come from federal government

Ideas Regarding How LSTA Money Should Be Used:

• Automation
• Collaborative regional libraries support to obtain grants (using grants and applying for)
• Fund all libraries/subsidies
• Advertising/public relations efforts across the state in non traditional settings, i.e. malls, television
• Fund no patron left behind initiative
• Regional bookmobile
• Outreach in non-traditional settings (malls, etc.)
• Develop a standard of service
• Establish school/public library collaboration
• Statewide consultants or staffing for technology, web design, graphic artists, grant writing, traveling librarians, children’s librarian, professional fundraiser, floater position
• Establish funding for aging/retired librarians to become consultants
• Statewide plan to serve non-English speaking individuals
• Building improvements and repairs
• Fund authors coming to individual libraries
• Energy efficiency
• Showcase grant funded programs (both successful and not)
• Promotion of how LSTA money is being used
• Address community diversity
• State level position to conduct needs assessments in communities
• Peer review of grant issues
• Angelic formula as part of overall scoring process
• Streamline grant writing process
• Some money should be spent geographically
• Create broader categories
• Combine town departments – too much duplication currently
• Green projects
• Staff training
• Mini grants for schools
• Establish books by mail – i.e. Netflix
• Create programs for 20+ age group
• Create Cinderella story – fund three year project for a library that is not up to standard
• Establish a system for reporting on who receives grants and what grants are available
• Pay for programming individual libraries can’t afford
• Establish programs across town departments

What Community Needs Are Not Being Met – What Can The Library Do To Help Meet Those Needs?

• Address needs of immigrant population
• Look at how dollars are being spent to provide services for immigrant population
• Provide programs for older teens
• Do more for the have not’s
• Funding for tutoring
• More ESL funding
• Obtain and have available better computer equipment
• Offer computer training
• Support school system and home schooled
• Have forums to identify and solve community problems
• Use the library as a go to place for community resources
• Use the library as a public place
• Cable cast municipal meetings
• Preserve community history
• Work with historical societies
• Specialized teen support
• Serve disabled – adapt technology for hearing impaired, vision impaired
• Establish homework help/club
• Work with realtors to see who new community members are
• Provide gathering spot for people who like to write
• Exhibit locally produced artwork
• Address gang activity – gang activity keeps others away from library
• Appointments for elderly income taxes
• Establish voluntary income tax program
• Conduct adult education classes for towns that do not currently have these programs
• Library cards should be issued through school and town departments
• Have public libraries provide books for school projects
• Change the perception that libraries are not essential to business
• Library to play a bigger role in promotion of local jobs – post local job bulletin
• Online job applications could be done at the library – assistance can be provided
• Create additional library locations so everyone has access to libraries (coffee shops, malls, etc.)
• Share resources throughout town
• Establish communication processes
• Change perception that library is non-essential

Miscellaneous Feedback:

• Knowing what the problems throughout Connecticut would be helpful – not only related to libraries
o Achievement gap
o High hosing costs
o Migration out of state
o Healthcare
o Everything is skewed because of Fairfield County
o Growing immigration issues
o Transportation
o Outsourcing of jobs
• Library should be a partner in trying to solve statewide problems
• Promote additional LSTA funds
• Communication is necessary throughout the system
• Pop-up educational suggestions/tips on the computer would be helpful
• Collaboration needed between libraries
• Resource sharing necessary
• Standardization

The information from each focus group was significantly different. Some members of the Willimantic group were not aware of how LSTA money is currently being spent and had concerns when asked how it could be spent, feeling they didn’t know what the criteria currently was. Others in the group were knowledgeable of how money was being spent. Both groups felt that a report at the end of funding periods should be easy to access so all knew how dollars were allocated, what it was used for and what the outcomes were.

Participants felt that trying to prioritize what was most important would not work well. The diversity of the types of libraries and viewpoints represented would make for an impossible task. The list is presented in random order as comments were received.

LSTA Grants

From 2002 to 2007, 105 grants have been awarded to approximately 70 libraries. in Connecticut. These grants were intended to address specific areas of need in the state including services to children in poverty, children and young adult literacy, older adults, individuals with disabilities, and multilingual populations. Many libraries also received grants for long range planning to help them prioritize their services to address their most urgent local needs.

Have you found the grant process open and understandable? Have you received the guidance from DLD staff you expected? Are there needs in your community that you hope will be addressed in the next five year plan? Your input will be valuable to the LSTA Planning Committee.

The Plan and Interlibrary Loan

For the purposes of the plan, I’d like to learn about what you see as the most important trend affecting interlibrary loan (ILL) in the next few years. Goal 1 of the current “Five Year Plan” is to “Provide the citizens of Connecticut access to essential information and education resources.” The first activity is to “Support continued development of iCONN, including the statewide catalog and inter-library loan.”

Do you think ILL will remain one of the higher priorities at your library? How does reQuest ILL fit into your resource sharing services? Where do you want to see reQuest ILL headed?  If you don’t use reQuest for ILL currently, what do you use and what do you think you will be using in the near future?

New Five Year Plan

The Advisory Council on Library Planning and Development and the Connecticut State Library are currently engaged in a planning process for the Library Service and Technology Act (LSTA) program in the state.

The intent of this blog is to gather input to better understand the needs of Connecticut libraries and the trends they see affecting their future. Results will help us develop a plan for the use of LSTA funds during the next five years.

In addition to holding focus groups, online surveys, and hearings, we also wanted to try blogging as an alternative way to ‘talk’ with libraries.

Periodically I’ll be posing some questions in an attempt to generate the conversation. But please feel free to post your thoughts on any matter concerning your library.

For background on the LSTA program in Connecticut here are some links:
Overview of LSTA program in Connecticut.
Current Five Year Plan (2002-2007)
Current grant categories and descriptions of past grants

So my first question – What do you see as the most important trend affecting library service in the next few years?

Sharon Brettschneider
Director, Division of Library Development