Implementation of Regents Commission Recommendations
February 2007 Update

Recommendation Progress to Date Challenges

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

  • Electronic resources purchased on a statewide basis to provide economies of scale: NOVEL provides an online collection of electronic full-text magazines, newspapers, books, encyclopedias, and other collections licensed on a statewide basis for free access through public, academic, and school libraries; special libraries in not-for profit organizations; and remotely from homes and offices by means of a New York State driver license or non-driver ID number.
  • Collaboration with library systems to ensure that local libraries participate in NOVEL: Currently 5,253 libraries are registered to use NOVEL. More than $17 million in Gates Foundation grants and federal E-Rate funds enabled upgrading of public access to the Internet and other electronic resources in public libraries. Fewer public and school libraries would provide access to NOVEL without this assistance.
  • Increased use of NOVEL resources: Annual number of searches increased to 31 million in 2006 from 2 million in 2001, and the number continues to soar. The number of visits to NOVEL through driver-license access jumped 350 percent after announcement in the media of the NOVEL Driver License Access Project.
  • Training for staff and library users in the use of NOVEL resources and network technology: The State Library allocated federal LSTA funds for an invitational grant program to build awareness and use of NOVEL resources through increased training opportunities for library system and member library staff, students, faculty, businesspeople, media, and the public. In addition, regional training sessions are held periodically for librarians through their library systems. Gates Foundation grants have partially funded technology training for public library staff.
  • Ongoing oversight by a statewide NOVEL Steering Committee: The Steering Committee has established subcommittees to develop and oversee specific tasks (e.g., resource selection and improvement).
  • Approximately 1,000 libraries, primarily school libraries, still not participating in NOVEL.
  • New York lagging behind other states in funding for statewide electronic libraries.
    New York State ranks 35th out of 50 states in overall per-capita expenditures for statewide database licensing. New York spends 13 cents per capita, while New Jersey spends 94 cents, Alabama 90 cents, Connecticut 55 cents, South Carolina 50 cents, Michigan 37 cents, Texas 26 cents, Ohio 24 cents, and Illinois 23 cents (National Center for Education Statistics: 2005).
  • No state support targeted to help libraries digitize unique local collections.
  • No enhanced opportunities for high-speed network access.
  • No shared electronic catalogs of the holdings of all libraries in New York State.
  • No establishment of Empire QuickLoan to simplify borrowing and transporting printed library materials across the state.
  • No statewide 24/7 reference service offered, as provided in other states.

NOTE: NOVEL activities are funded primarily by federal monies. Federal LSTA-funded activities are declining as New York State’s population-based LSTA funding declines.

More information about NOVEL


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.

  • NOVEL available in 3,658 public and private school libraries statewide, including charter schools, and Inclusion in NOVEL of age-appropriate resources for K–12 students.
  • Inclusion of 13 school library media specialists in the Librarians for the 21st Century recruitment grant project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
  • Certification requirements for school library media specialists strengthened by Regents.
  • Automation of some school library collections with the help of LSTA Database Development Incentive Program grants.
  • Middle School Indicators of Achievement for School Library Media Programs developed to ensure quality middle school programs that meet the New York State Learning Standards.
  • Program planning and assessment enhanced by self-evaluation Library Media Program Evaluation rubric used by many school library systems and school library media programs.
  • $5,000 grants for the Library Media Program Improvement Initiative for SURR and SQRI Schools, funded by Title I, for 77 schools ($365,000).
  • Regents recommendation for increase in School Library Materials Aid in their 2007 State Aid to Schools Proposal.
  • approximately 860 schools, most of them elementary, without a certified school library media specialist to provide instruction in information literacy skills, select and evaluate resources, collaborate as instructional partners with classroom teachers, and promote and encourage students’ enjoyment of reading.
  • No state funding targeted to improve student access to adequate and appropriate electronic resources and to technology, including expanded Internet access and NOVEL.
    Library media resource expenditures have substantially decreased since 1998. State-funded Library Materials Aid has been static since 1999 at $6 per pupil.
  • School library media resources and instruction inadequate to support New York State Learning Standards and new assessments.
  • School library systems struggling to survive.

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.

  • Creation of 27 new public library districts since 1999, including 18 in 2002 through 2006; as of July 2006, 263,050 additional New Yorkers with local public library service (decrease of unserved from a high of 1.3 million in 1999 to one million currently).
  • Creation of a how-to guide and a Public Library District web site (web resource content funded with federal LSTA funds).
  • Training and expert consultation services provided to library directors and trustees on creating public library districts (funded with federal LSTA funds).
  • Creation of New York Library Association (NYLA) Public Library Districts Statewide Task Force.
  • No incentive aid through grants available to help local public libraries implement a public library district model.
  • No System Aid for public library systems targeted to implement the transition at the system level.
  • No state support for the State Library targeted to implement the transition.

More information about Public Library Districts


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.

  • $2.7 million, based on the 2000 census with hold-harmless (protection for areas that lost population) to calculate aid, included in FY 2006–07 budget.
  • $3 million in new funds budgeted for library systems in FY 2006–07; another $3 million proposed in Executive Budget for 2007–08.
  • Establishment in 2002 of a new category of Federal LSTA competitive grants called Service Improvement to fund library system projects targeted at improving the quality of library services in their regions and statewide.
  • Development by the State Library of an “outcomes-based evaluation web site,” a train-the-trainer curriculum, and statewide “outcome-based evaluation training” for State Library and system staff to improve the quality of library and system services (more than 300 people trained, including 10 expert trainers). Funded by LSTA and Gates Foundation funds.
  • Improved accountability and planning of library systems through State Library collaboration with systems to improve their Five-Year Plans of Service and movement of the planning, budgeting, and reporting process to a web-based format.
  • Establishment of a lay board of trustees by the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO), as recommended by the Regents Commission to enhance library system leadership.
  • No implementation of new funding based specifically on need to raise the level of service to a minimum standard.
    In 2004, public libraries received only $2.32 per capita in state funding, compared with the $3.21 national average. This ranked New York 12th in the country, with states such as Ohio ($39.87), Hawaii ($18.92), Pennsylvania ($6.60), Rhode Island ($6.35), and Maryland ($5.06) ranking substantially higher, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
  • No incentives for library systems to achieve excellence of service (EXCELS Program).

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.

  • $14 million in new state funds budgeted for public library construction in FY 2006–07; another $14 million proposed in Executive Budget for 2007–08.
  • Expanded construction program implemented through the Dormitory Authority (DASNY) for bonding of funds.
  • No new ongoing state funding.
    The average funding for public library construction for the 50 states is $0.16 per capita. New York’s ongoing annual funding is $0.04 per capita ($800,000 per year), far below the average.
  • Still a need for over $1.7 billion for construction or renovation of more than 350 public library buildings.

More about the Public Library Construction Grant Program


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.

  • Recruitment for Librarians for the 21st Century grant project 60-percent successful in attracting scholarship recipients from diverse backgrounds to serve increasingly diverse communities.
  • Spanish-language outreach program implemented through partnership of State Library, Gates Library Foundation, and WebJunction.

No new state funding targeted for these services:

  • Expansion of language programs, including both collection development in world languages and programming such as English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and citizenship classes.
  • Expansion of branch library hours on weekends and evenings.
  • Improvement of outreach programs for underserved inner-city residents, particularly youth, seniors, the under- and unemployed, and recent arrivals from other countries.

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.

  • Growth of the New York State Library’s Statewide Summer Reading Program — from 172,000 participants in 1999 to well over one million children in 2006 (funded with federal LSTA funds); availability of Statewide Summer Reading Program Minigrants to promote the program locally (funded with federal LSTA funds).
  • “Love Your Library” License Plate Program established to support the Statewide Summer Reading Program.
  • Participation in SED Early Childhood Cabinet and funding of statewide Growing a Reader Program, training 1,250 youth librarians over two years to teach parents and caregivers critical early literacy skills (funded with federal LSTA funds).
  • For the 2005–06 and 2006–07 fiscal years, administration of funding for 31 state-funded and 15 federally funded adult and family literacy programs around the state.

No new state funding targeted to provide these services:

  • Promoting English literacy through instruction for adults and families, early-childhood programs, and collections of lifelong learning materials (38 percent of adult and family literacy projects seeking assistance still unfunded).
  • Enhancing users’ information literacy skills.
  • Strengthening library users’ computer skills in using technology to find and manage information.
  • Implementation of the Statewide Summer Reading Program.

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.

  • State Library Research Library borrowing privileges extended to all adult New Yorkers.
  • State Library Research Library digitization projects enhancing access to library collections and selected materials of the New York State Museum, New York State Archives, historical organizations, etc. (e.g., the Cultural Education Challenge Fund Scanning Project).
  • Regional digitization plans developed by reference and research library resources systems (funded with federal LSTA funds).
  • Participation in the New York State Higher Education Initiative to develop cooperative activities for academic and research libraries statewide.
  • LIBQUAL+ project to help 77 academic and research libraries identify user needs, align resources with user expectations, and improve services, using an Association of Research Libraries outcome-based assessment tool (supported by federal LSTA funds).

No new state funding targeted for these programs:

  • Access to specialized electronic resources of value to scholars and researchers. (The New York State Library still lacks the means to provide access to research materials through NOVEL.)
  • Expanded access to academic and research library information through use of technology and support for resource sharing.
  • Digitization of research materials.
  • Incentives to promote increased on-site access to academic and special libraries.
  • Expansion of medical information programs for librarians, health-care professionals, and consumers.
  • Extension of programs for sharing of library materials purchased by academic libraries with shared funds from the Coordinated Collection Development Aid program.
  • Pilot programs for enhanced library services in support of business and industry.
  • Accelerated programs to ensure preservation of library materials.

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

  • Librarians for the 21st Century recruitment grant awarded by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services to enable the education and training of 42 librarian recruits in cooperation with the state’s library schools and library systems (60 percent recruited for diversity).
  • Meetings of State Education Department leadership with Deans of the Schools of Information Science and Policy.
  • Seven online teleconferences provided by the State Library in 2005–06 by means of a statewide license through the College of DuPage (funded with LSTA funds); exploration of offering a suite of online courses in 2006–07 to be funded with Gates Foundation funds.
  • Library Careers web site and accompanying campaign to promote librarianship as a career choice to diverse groups as part of the Librarians for the 21st Century grant project.
  • Dewey Library School Scholarships established by NYLA in 2005 with funding from the Lake Placid Foundation (seven $1,500 scholarships — one for each library school).
  • Online trustee training modules under development (funded with federal LSTA funds).
  • Trustee certification program established by the New York State Association of Library Boards (NYSALB).
  • Task Force on Librarians in Civil Service established by NYLA to investigate and define issues and obstacles involving the current classification of librarians in the “competitive” class of Civil Service.
  • NYLA Leadership and Management Academy established as an educational program for emerging leaders in the library profession.
  • New York EqualAccess Libraries Institute launched in early 2006 by the State Library with Libraries for the Future, NYLA, and the Public Library System Directors Organization, enabling more than 120 public librarians from 60 libraries to gain in-depth knowledge and skills in transforming libraries into community centers for information and education.
  • No implementation of certification and re-certification process to promote excellence in the workforce.
  • Lack of improvements to provide access to library education through distance learning and strategies to attract and retain librarians in urban areas.
  • No new education and training programs for the non-librarian workforce, including paraprofessionals, managers, and trustees.

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

  • Commissioner’s New Century Libraries Leadership Meetings held statewide.
  • Strengthening of statewide partnerships to promote libraries — New York Library Association, New York State Association of Library Boards, District Superintendents, New York State School Boards Association, and others.
  • State Library leadership, including its web site, keeping library supporters informed.
  • School Library Media Program/EMSC leadership at state and national level to strengthen school library medial programs.
  • Activities of individual libraries and systems to strengthen outreach and generate library support.
  • Difficulties in maintaining State Library-based education and efforts to generate library support due to staff shortages and budget restrictions.
  • Difficulties in working with schools, providing data, attending meetings, etc., with only EMSC position working for school library media programs.
Last Updated: March 17, 2014