Comments on First Draft -- Creating the Future: a 2020 Vision Plan for Library Service in New York State

Bravo!!  After a first reading of the draft document on the future of libraries and a reading of the NYS P-12 Common Core Learning Standards, I applaud the New York State Regents Advisory Council on Libraries to the New York State Board of Regents on their Preliminary Recommendations, especially the recommendation to mandate school library media specialists in public schools at all levels, including elementary.  It would be impossible for students to achieve the Common Core Learning Standards without a highly qualified lms in their school. 

I also applaud the recommendations for public libraries for collaboration, better marketing, and the requirement for " all public libraries to become fully funded and governed through citizen participation and public vote."  

The vision for the future of libraries elucidated in the document speaks to all that libraries are, and can be, and takes into account the ever-changing landscape of technology for the betterment of our society.   Let us do everything we can to make this vision a reality by 2020.  Thank you for your very good work! -- Theresa Slosek, PCC Director and retired School Library Media Specialist, Public Computing Center, Oswego Public Library

Good morning. Thank you for your advocacy. I have one comment regarding the following excerpt in the School Libraries section:

Mandate an elementary school librarian in every school to strengthen instructional leadership in meeting the P-12 Common Core Learning Standards, and enforce library staffing regulations in all public schools.

The way it is worded makes it sound like an elementary librarian should be mandated in every school, even middle and high. Perhaps you could word it as follows:

Mandate a certified library media specialist in every school....etc.

Thank you again for your efforts on our behalf. -- Nancy Brown, Library Media Specialist, Bedford Central School District

I have responded before, so I won't belabor some of my previous points, but I would like to express again how imperative it is to have a certified librarian in every school with a well stocked, current collection.  I see a serious disconnect with the new Common Core and its emphasis on informational and non-fiction texts, if the school library necessary to support this new mandate is either unmanned or inappropriately stocked. 

I watched one of the videos on in which the new curriculum/expectations were discussed without a single reference to where teachers were expected to find these materials.  They should be found in the school library!

With sincere hope that at least this recommendation will be enacted upon - even in this fiscal climate.  We owe it to our students. -- Linda Randel, Library Media Specialist, Anne M. Dorner Middle School, Ossining

I just returned from AASL in Minneapolis and am so pleased to see this document.  Now, more than ever, it is so important to push for the placement of a mandated librarian at all grade levels, p-12.  Librarians play a critical role in ensuring that the literacy standards put forth in the common core standards are met and that all students are prepared for the challenges of 21st Century researching and learning.

I thank you for this document, if I can do anything else please let me know.

Thank you. -- Margaux DelGuidice

under the economic climate that we have been facing, school leaders have chosen to eliminate unmandated programs. as such, many elementary school buildings are either understaffed or completely unstaffed with regard to their librarians. this is an untenable situation. for many children, the school library is the only library that they have contact with. the professional librarian provides not only the love of books and learning but information literacy in all forms that a child in the 21st century needs to be exposed to.

we need mandated full-time librarians in every school so that every child can benefit. -- Laura Irace, Elwood John Glenn HS Library, East Northport

This is unbelievable!!  I finally feel some validation!! I am passionate about what I do and what I was trained to do!  I had such uncertainty and uneasiness about my profession. Now, I can honestly say there may be a glimmer of light. 
Thank you , fingers crossed -- Susan Teeter, School Media Specialist, Maplewood Intermediate School, Huntington Station

I support a mandated librarian for all  elementary schools.  Libraries and librarians are needed in our public schools to support the curriculum and teach from a different perspective than the classroom teacher.  Librarians are the original "SYNTHESIZERS" that is referred to in this document.  School's without librarians is like a school without a soul.  Books, computers, librarians to make sense of it all are needed in our schools.

Thank you. -- Alison Rooney, School Librarian, J. Taylor Finley Middle School, Huntington

Due to budget cuts, I am no longer working in the library profession, I am working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I have an important viewpoint that I would like to share with the Commission. As an experienced  former public, medical  and academic librarian I have observed the following:   The library profession - as a rule – have failed to persuaded our elected officials on the importance of libraries and librarians to the general economic well-being of society.  Our way of life is dependent on people of all ages, access and utilizing information for various purposes including but not limited to: general education, business and political inquiry as well as innovation.  Patents for new products and services, the life-blood of a dynamic economy, is based on the education of the inventor. 

It is hard to imagine any kind of innovation without prior education and exposure to historical scientific information, reference works , books and journal articles.   While libraries are a key link in the innovation process, our elected officials will cut our funding during prolonged economic contractions; and in the process reduce exposure to materials that may stimulate the development of new technologies and industries.  Therefore, it is imperative for librarians to quantify – as exactly as possible the financial value they create for society.  On a national level, our professional societies   ALA, SLA, MLA, and others, must commission econometric  studies that provide the hard data necessary to convince our elected officials that libraries, librarians and the services we offer add extraordinary financial value to our economy.

For example , William Shockley invented the transistor at Bell Laboratories in 1956. That innovation was the bases for the Internet and all of the advanced computer and communications technology we now enjoy today.  I believe that Shockley was a heavy user of libraries; and to what degree  his use of the library facilitated the development of the transistor, we as librarians will never know.

But of this I am certain, his inventive mind was stimulated by the materials he found in whatever library he consulted.  Considering the social, political, and economic magnitude of the transistor, the librarian or library that had anything at all to do with Shockley’s  reference and information gathering activities, related to the science underlying the transistor, facilitated the development of an unprecedented technology that created entire industries....

As librarians we need to perform “value analysis” Stakeholders who understand the monetary and social value of the professional services they receive are far more likely to fund our libraries and compensate members of our profession appropriately. 

A View of Future Library Services

  • While other possibilities and modifications are possible, I envision the centralization of library services organized around regional electronic hubs.
  • The hub will be staffed by librarians who have subject-specialties.
  • 21 Century Librarians will have professional and subject specific degrees and the traditional MLS may  disappear. 
  • Interaction between librarian and stake-holder will be completely digital and electronic.
  • The library science degree will undergo extraordinary  content adaptation.
  • Traditional  - brick and mortar libraries will – over the next twenty years, completely disappear
  • State and City Funding will go directly to the central hubs, as well as to corporate digital content providers. 

Organizational learning and transformational leadership in the library environment
J Castiglione - Library management, 2006 -
... The Authors. James Castiglione, Brooklyn College Library, CUNY – The City University of NewYork, Brooklyn, New York, USA. Abstract. ... About the author. James Castiglione is an Assistant Professor/Reference Librarian at Brooklyn College, The City University of New York.

Self-managing work teams and their external leadership: A primer for library administrators
J Castiglione - Library management, 2007 -
... DOI: 10.1108/01435120710774512 (Permanent URL). Self-managing work teams and their
external leadership. A primer for library administrators. The Authors. James Castiglione, Brooklyn College, The City University of New York, Brooklyn, New York, USA.

Managing the library labor gap: the role of bridge employment for the older library professional
J Castiglione - Library management, 2006 -
The Authors. James Castiglione, The City University of New York, Brooklyn College,Brooklyn, New York, USA. Abstract. ... About the author. James Castiglione is an Assistant Professor Reference Librarian at Brooklyn College, The City University of New York.

Internet abuse and possible addiction among undergraduates: A developing concern for library and university administrators
J Castiglione - Library Review, 2008 -
... Internet abuse and possible addiction among undergraduates. A developing concern for
library and university administrators. The Authors. James Castiglione, Brooklyn College,
The City University of New York, Brooklyn, New York, USA.

Environmental scanning: an essential tool for twenty-first century librarianship
J Castiglione - Library Review, 2008 -
... DOI: 10.1108/00242530810894040 (Permanent URL). Environmental scanning: an essential
tool for twenty-first century librarianship. The Authors. James Castiglione, Brooklyn College,
The City University of New York, Brooklyn, New York, USA.

Facilitating employee creativity in the library environment: An important managerial concern for library administrators
J Castiglione - Library Management, 2008 -
... Facilitating employee creativity in the library environment. An important managerial
concern for library administrators. The Authors. James Castiglione, Brooklyn College,
The City University of New York, New York, New York, USA.

-- James Castiglione

It is most important for school libraries to be adequately funded and staffed by qualified librarians, especially elementary schools. -- Donald Walsh

This is a wonderful start to a much needed legislation ensuring the future of our children, and empowering and educating the public of its importance is imperative to ensuring our country's success.

Thank you for your commitment and hard work. It is appreciated! -- Andrea Francisco, school library media specialist

Please support the 2020 Vision as outlined in the “Creating the Future: A Vision and Plan for the Library Service in New York State; Preliminary recommendations of the NYS Regents Advisory Council on Libraries to the NYS Board of Regents.”

As an educator and School Library Media Specialist on Long Island as well as a public librarian for the past 26 years, I have seen the difference that quality public and school libraries can make in the lives of people throughout New York State. It is critical that this instruction begins at a young age and remains constant throughout a child’s education. Collaboration between the public and academic worlds as well as the co-teaching within our schools between teachers and librarians should multiply.

Most specifically, mandating SLMS at the elementary level in addition to the secondary level is crucial. The foundation for lifelong learning should begin and remain constant in every child’s life in order to optimize student growth.  

It is imperative that school districts encourage the use of e-books and social media as well as actively promoting remote access to information 24/7 in all locations. -- Diane Miller, Lindenhurst High School Library

The Board of Trustees of the Rochester Regional Library Council reviewed the Draft Plan at its November 10, 2011 Board meeting. The RRLC Board is one of only two NY3Rs councils in New York State comprised of non-librarians.
The Board appreciated the efforts of the Regents Advisory Council and the work that has gone into the Plan. Members of the Board who are less familiar with the extent of library services in New York found the document a good “learning tool”.
These were their specific comments:

  • The Plan could be presented in a more compelling and visually appealing way. In fact, they stated that the Plan lacked “zing” – nothing bold and different. This and the length will likely lead to people failing to read it completely.
  • The RAC should look at successful models outside the U.S. e.g., the Berlin group referenced in the report.
  • The RAC should benchmark against other successful countries, where students score higher on tests, regarding student achievement due to library involvement.
  • Under School Libraries (page 4), the last bullet calls for school libraries to be open evenings, weekends, and in summer. Wouldn’t it be more cost-effective to partner with public libraries in a community? Keeping a school building open is costly and those funds could be better spent hiring a school librarian to work in a public library during these times or providing public libraries with additional funding for children and young adult librarians. That would be a good example of cooperation among libraries.
  • Overall, the language is too general. Statements are such that everyone would agree with them. For example, on page 5: “The acceleration of digitization of special collections and their integration into curricula; and making those materials freely available for research.”
    • How would this be accomplished? Would there be incentives? Language is too general.
  • On page 7 under Special Libraries, a statement should be added addressing the information needs of unaffiliated health professionals. For example: “Funding of programs that will ensure that all health care professionals in the state have access to the online, quality, evidence-based health information resources needed to provide quality patient care.”
  • On page 8: “Increasing and incentivizing collaboration among systems and with the New York State Library.”
    • It’s not clear what systems they are talking about. School, academic? The systems should be named.
    • What could systems do with the New York State Library that we aren’t already doing? The plan doesn’t say. The recommendation isn’t clear.
    • Poor wording in the paragraph “Models for Success” it states …” legal advice to continuing education”. Several trustees misinterpreted this.
    • The Plan urges more cooperation but that isn’t enough. The Regents need to be told to support libraries with calls for additional funding and specific actions.
  • On page 10, the second to last bullet (“Fully fund the State Library…”). Since the Regents cannot fund anything, the statement should indicate that the Board of Regents will ask the Legislature to fully fund…”
  • Statement on page 12 states that “many of these recommendations do not require additional funding…” when in fact, only a few don’t. The Plan should say “Achieving the recommendations outlined in this Plan will require additional funding – excellent library services are not cost free.”

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Draft. We appreciate the work of the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries. -- Kathleen M. Miller, Executive Director, Rochester Regional Library Council, on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the Rochester Regional Library Council

As a library professional and citizen of New York State I strongly urge the Advisory Council recommend policy to the Board of Regents that will promote full access to library services by all residents of New York State.  I submit the following suggestions for your consideration:
  • Library Schools should include a "mandatory" course which focuses on accessible library employment opportunities and service/programs for people with disabilities. The course should include information about the various legislation that requires libraries of "all" types to be fully accessible. The course should include where the appropriate information can be found, where it is applicable and how it should be implemented.
  • The New York State Librarian’s Certificate, which currently requires a component of continuing education, should incorporate a requirement for continuing education credits that apply specifically to access issues.  In relation to this requirement a standardized program should be developed that will provide this specific training.
  • Library Administration, staff and Trustees should also be required to attend at least one disability awareness training each year. This training could be part of the statewide program that we develop. This program will cover all aspects of access, including disability awareness training, assistive technology demonstrations, assistive technology training, training on how to communicate and interact with community organizations and agencies that provide services to people with disabilities.
  • Libraries (of all kinds) should be required, as a stipulation of continued state aid, to have various types of assistive technology in the library to ensure access to employees and patrons with disabilities.
  • The state public library construction grant program should have a requirement that any and all changes, modifications and renovations that are done with "grant" money must be fully accessible or add to the access of that library's materials and services.
  • Libraries should be required to provide all promotional and library related materials in alternative formats for people with disabilities. A contract service could be established that can provide print materials in alternative formats, on demand.
  • Libraries should be required to have people with disabilities on any planning board for expansions or renovations.
  • Libraries should make every effort to have people with disabilities as part of their board of trustees.  If it cannot be a member of the board, then libraries should establish a “Community panel" that would include a diverse group of members whose goal it is to make the library as inclusive to all as possible.
  • Libraries should be required to provide their services to all assisted living facilities and nursing homes in the community. People living in these facilities are entitled to library services and in many communities, do not receive them.
  • Libraries should be required to provide services to people who are Homebound. It should not be an optional service.
  • Libraries should have a budget line for auxiliary aids. This money would cover things such as assistive technology, Sign Language Interpreters and/or fee-based awareness training. An allocated line would not enable libraries to state that they do not have monies to cover these things...when they are requested.

We would not design a building that did not have a wide enough door for a wheelchair. Therefore, we should not fill it with products that cannot be used by people with disabilities. -- Valerie Lewis, Director, Long Island Talking Book Library, and
Administrator of Outreach Services, Suffolk Cooperative  Library System

School Libraries: Mandate a certified elementary school librarian in every school to strengthen instructional leadership in meeting the P-12 Common Core Learning Standards, and enforce library-staffing regulations in all public schools.

If students don’t have a certified librarian in elementary school, they come to the middle school at a disadvantage.  They don’t have the initial skills needed to do research at a higher level.  They may know how to read, but don’t have the experiences of using their reading to analyze and synthesize information. Our elementary librarians give our students the beginning skills and opportunities to do so in a comfortable, relaxed setting.  They both piggy-back on what the classroom teacher is teaching and extend the curriculum to include information literacy as well as reading for enjoyment.  School librarians make sure that the collection both reflects and expands the curriculum through a variety of formats.  Guided by the school librarian, they can stretch their reading to meet their interests without fear of failure. 

School librarians are among the first to use technology to promote access to the school library from home and from mobile devices.  Online safety and research can’t be taught if the technology is not available through school.  At the elementary level, the school librarian introduces technology its ethical use in a safe environment.  There are still many students who don’t have technology at home or an adult who can assist them. School librarians help to lessen this gap.

If not mandated, school leaders should be strongly encouraged to include school librarians at all levels.  The school librarian wears many hats—teaching, collaborating, leading professional development, using technology, and making reading interesting and enticing.  The library curriculum crosses all curriculums.  Why would we not need a school librarian in every school? -- Pauline Herr, School Librarian and Librarian Coordinator, LaGrange Middle School

I have read the Creating the Future: A 2020 Vision and Plan for Library Service in New York State draft carefully and want to compliment its authors for its excellent content. I do however believe that NYS certified or MLS librarians should be mentioned as necessary for all of the libraries. This cannot be assumed since, presently, due to budget constraints, there is much deskilling occurring in libraries. Certainly paraprofessional library staff can be trained to increase their skills and competencies. Yet librarians with degrees in library science are much more comprehensively educated for accomplishing the General Recommendations written for public libraries.

Below I’ve inserted a few phrases to include my ideas for one section of the document.

Public Libraries

Public libraries provide services that cannot be replicated elsewhere. They represent citizens’ rights to free and equal access to information, a right now under duress with the development of for-profit information services; providing a guide through a maze of misinformation for the average citizen. They are a beacon of early childhood literacy, a center for each community’s history and culture, a key to the American dream for immigrants, and much more. The public values its libraries, and desires more kinds of services within more business hours; more traditional resources such as children’s programs and hard-cover books; and more e-resources such as electronic books that can be read on hand-held devices.

The quality of public library service remains unequal across the state. Reasons for this include community wealth, legal structure and lack of political support.

Models for Success:

Public libraries reflect the highest ideals of the communities they serve. The best public libraries are places where the love of learning is instilled at the youngest age and intellectual curiosity encouraged for all. They provide a path to navigate life’s challenges and welcome new Americans. As community centers they actively encourage civic engagement and cultural awareness while remembering the past by the preservation of community history. Their success is grounded in their basis as a truly democratic institution, governed and supported by the people they serve.


The Board of Regents and State Education Department should formulate policy and regulation that will encourage:

  • Public libraries to be adequately staffed with librarians certified by New York State
  • The further proliferation of the Regents’ Public Library District Model to require all public libraries to become fully funded and governed through citizen participation and public vote.
  • All public libraries to proactively create and collect local content and serve as a catalyst for civic engagement to promote civil discourse and confront society’s most difficult problems.
  • Collaboration with other libraries and community organizations to develop seamless information literacy initiatives, promote cultural understanding and protect local historical and cultural treasures.
  • The provision of robust early childhood education programs and the designation of homework help as a core service; the alignment of outreach services with societal priorities, such as teen services / gang prevention.”

Thank you for considering my comments. I am employed as a public librarian (part-time) and also work also as a public library volunteer. I have been a substitute teacher in school libraries and was employed as a public school teacher for 26 years. -- Nancy Churchill, M.S., M.L.S.

I am very encouraged to read about this plan as I agree that library media specialists play an instrumental role in the education process especially as a collaborating partner with the new common core standards. I also agree that there should be a mandate for a "full time" librarian in every elementary school and staffing requirements should be enforced in all public schools.  Thank you for your support. -- Rosemarie Pray, Librarian, Walt Whitman High School

Comments on First Draft of “Creating the Future: A 2020 Vision and Plan for Library Service in New York State”; Rebekkah Smith Aldrich


  • Employed by the Mid-Hudson Library System
  • New York Library Association Involvement:
    • Newly elected Councilor-at-Large
    • Long-time member of the Legislative Committee
    • Past President, Leadership & Management Section
  • Author, Handbook for New Library Directors in New York State
  • Library Consultant, Sustainable Libraries, LLC


Section: “General”

This is such a great section, it really speaks to all libraries are and can be for the citizens of our world. Maybe is should this be entitled something other than “General” given that the next header also has the word “general” in it? Maybe something with a tinge of inspiration in it? I’m not great at coming up with something that isn’t too corny but I do think this section deserves more polish in the header.

Section: “General Recommendations”

Should the marketing and advocacy statements be combined into one statement?

Are the 5th and 6th bullets repetitive? Could they be combined into one statement? Could this be worded in loftier language, using phrases such as defending citizens’ rights and ensuring equal access?

Should there be a statement here, or added to the first bullet?, about seeking operational and cost efficiencies? Examples could be workflow efficiency studies in light of technological opportunities, energy efficient facilities, online service delivery methods, collaboration…

Section: “School Libraries”

“The school librarian is a true partner with every teacher and administration…” Could we add parent to this?

Last bullet under “Recommendations”: a more likely or feasible scenario could be to partner with public libraries in their communities during evenings, weekends and summers to encourage year-round reading. To formalize the very necessary collaboration between the two types of libraries would be a worthy focus for the Regents. It would also bolster both types of libraries by a) creating a marketing message that strengthens the position of the public library as a true partner in the K-12 education infrastructure, thereby building their base of support amongst parents and b) demonstrating to taxpayers that the schools are community partners willing to decentralize service into neighborhoods to make access to help for students more convenient for working families and c) keeping costs down by working side-by-side with the public library rather than upping operational costs to keep school buildings running during non-traditional hours.

Section: “Public Libraries”

Opening paragraph: Libraries are Essential / Core of the Community Message

  • The public library as physical place with a sense of place is an important message to convey. Our ability to serve as a meeting place, a gathering place, a learning place for individual communities is central to bureaucratic understanding of the future of libraries. Regardless of the transition of our “stuff” to e- formats our role as a community place is going to be around for a long time. In fact, it is a significantly growing service point. In the past five years I have conducted dozens of community focus groups around our five county region and have found that communities are consistently looking for places to gather and they are suggesting the public library is that gathering place if it is not already. Despite claims that technology is isolating people I am hearing a great deal of evidence that it is increasing people’s desire to learn from others in a face-to-face setting, to gather with their neighbors and be together as a family.
  • I would like to see a stronger statement in regards to the public library as technology center. Ensuring equal access to technology – computers and broadband connectivity at the least – is a mission critical item that speaks to many of the elements we want to promote and help the Regents understand. Public libraries are or can be the technological core of our communities with a little help/investment. This aspect of our service is tied to the economic development of the entire state, the success of students of all ages, and the socialization of people of all ages. It also facilitates the state’s governmental functions transitioning to e-government by ensuring all citizens have access to online resource – but this cannot happen in a vacuum. The state government, with the assistance of the Regents to encourage understanding, will need to invest in the public library infrastructure before they go further with their push for e-government before they seriously disenfranchise many citizens. Support in the form of increased funding for technology, staff training and advance notice to library staff when services are shifting to the online environment.

Under Recommendations:

  • Third bullet: Digital Literacy may deserve its own bullet. This is an increasingly large area that will be getting more attention thanks to NYLA. It is a great example of how libraries of all types have a role to play, and particularly for public libraries who have the ability to grant access to digital literacy learning to people of all walks of life, not just those of an age or an economic situation that enables them to be students in our schools, colleges and universities.
  • Suggestion for another bullet in this area: formulate policy and regulation that will encourage the investment in public library facilities. Public library facilities will need continued care and attention in order to be able to respond to the changing needs of our communities. Rewiring of older buildings, creation of larger meeting spaces and small meeting rooms, flexible storage solutions so that libraries can adjust as print to e-format ratios change and energy efficiency improvements to keep operating costs down are all critical to viable libraries in 2020.

Section: “New York State Library Systems”

Full disclosure that I am a “system person.” That being said… I believe our system structure, particularly the public library system structure, could be one of our greatest strengths and a highlight of this report to the Regents. I think the recommendations in this section should be used to promote and advocate for Systems with less emphasis on a push for “evolution,” i.e. holistic consolidations, that while achieving initial cost efficiencies or elimination of current headaches, will ultimately undermine our strengths in the specific service delivery area of library development services. ILS and delivery, group purchasing make sense for deeper collaboration but “library development” calls for consultants well-versed in their member libraries’ history, communities and options for sustainable funding. I know if I had to stretch beyond the 66 libraries I already do this for, it would be impossible.

Public Library Systems are the state’s best bets for:

  • Educating library staff and trustees in their core competencies.
  • Developing local, sustainable funding solutions for public libraries.
  • Digitizing valuable local history collections for the “cloud library.”
  • Facilitating cost efficiencies in a manageable way amongst members.
  • Developing local library capacity though connection with national and statewide initiatives.

That we have an infrastructure in place that can achieve most of the goals being set forth in this report is a major point in our favor. Careful consideration needs to be applied when encouraging consolidation – is that a recommendation for all types of Systems or just some? I think the report is trying to talk about Systems as one group because our bucket of funding is just that - one bucket. But the value / ROI of the public library system vs. the school library system vs. the 3Rs is not necessarily equal.

Section: “State Library/SED/Board of Regents”

Really love the mandates for trustee training and library staff training!!

The opening statements are internally focused, what we’d do for ourselves. But if we could couple that with what’s in it for the state, the Governor, if the State Library were strengthened and given more respect I think it would have more impact. For example, could it be made clearer that the State Library could really be the “Chief Information Officer” or “Information Nexus” for the entire state government? I think stressing the statewide licensing for e-resources could be a precursor to demonstrating how cost efficient across many agencies/departments could be affected through consideration of the State Library as the information hub of government employees.

Section: “Technology and the Information Marketplace”

Should this section be moved up into the “General “ or “General Recommendations”? Maybe a special introductory note about libraries and technology and the immense opportunities in the near future?

One of the goals for this document, I’d imagine, is the education of the Board of Regents, to have this somewhat “internal audience” be sold on the viability of the library infrastructure in the next decade. I think we have to start with the assumption that some members of the Board of Regents themselves may have misconceptions about modern libraries and how libraries really can be the connective tissue that holds the state’s economy and the future of our children together through access, technology and digital literacy. -- Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, Coordinator for Library Growth & Sustainability, Mid-Hudson Library System; Councilor-at-Large, New York Library Association

On behalf of the SUNYLA Council, I’d like to say that we are pleased to have an opportunity to respond to this first draft of the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries’ new plan. In general, we feel that the plan is thoughtful and comprehensive. We are especially pleased that there is an acknowledgement of the importance of academic and research libraries to the state.

Following are some comments and suggestions that we hope will meet with your approval.

  1. In the Models for Success section under Academic and Research Libraries, where it says “Though a great many resources are digitally available to students, faculty and researchers wherever their location…,” this statement seems to perpetuate the idea that online resources just magically appear. The reality is that many of these resources would not be available to our users without the direct effort of the Library. Libraries purchase or subscribe to these resources and provide the technology infrastructure that allows users’ access regardless of their actual location. To borrow the words of Karen Coyle, formerly of the California Digital Library, “In major universities in the US, academics and students log on to their computers in their offices or at home and a whole world opens up to them. That's not some kind of accident. The prime goal of university libraries is to make good on ‘seek and ye shall find.’ The proof of the success of these libraries is that researchers are oblivious to the complexity of the system that serves them.” (Coyle's InFormation (2011, July 20).
    We suggest a change such as:  Though a great many resources are digitally available to students, faculty and researchers wherever their location thanks to purchasing and subscription decisions made by the Library, the physical Library building is an important place of collaborative learning, free ranging intellectual discourse, cultural expression and, of course, historically significant materials.
  2. We feel that the issue of information literacies, and the larger issue of lifelong learning that is directly dependent on possession of these literacies, warrants a stronger presence in the document. Specifically, because of the continuing centrality, complexity and diversity of today's knowledge creation and information distribution environments, we would argue that equipping our students and citizens with core skills in this area, such as how to evaluate and effectively use information from a variety of sources and formats, lies at the heart of library missions, but is also central to the effectiveness of the larger learning and community-wide institutions that libraries around the state are part and parcel of.
  3. We recommend that participation in the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) initiative and the Internet Archive’s Open Library lending program be included in the plan’s recommendations. The DPLA is a bold undertaking that can’t be easily summarized here but it goes well beyond “public” libraries and beyond just providing access to digital content. We feel that participation by New York’s libraries would strengthen the DPLA and be of benefit to the people of New York. At the very least, it should make the various pockets of online content throughout our state easier to find and use. Along the same lines, the Open Library lending program shows great promise for increasing the number of digital books available at no direct cost to users. The program was recently endorsed by the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA).

Thank you very much for your work on behalf of New York’s libraries and for your time and attention to these comments. -- April C. Davies, President, SUNY Librarians Association, Van Wagenen Library, SUNY Cobleskill

I first want to thank the Regents Advisory Committee on Libraries for its work and draft report, Creating the Future: A 2020 Vision and Plan for Library Service in New York State. I support the proposed recommendations to the Regents but would offer the following emphases and additions.

It is absolutely essential that the Regents, the Department of Education and State Library lead the advocacy on the continued importance and relevance of libraries.  The perception that libraries are no longer relevant in a digital world would be accurate if all digital content were free. But this is demonstrably false. If state residents are to benefit from the universal access to content provided them now, digital or otherwise, libraries, especially public libraries, are necessary. Access to information and publications should not depend on the ability of state residents to pay for this access.  

It is absolutely essential that the Regents understand that ebooks and digital content are the future of public libraries as well as other libraries. If public libraries are to preserve the strong brand of libraries as sources of books and life-long learning, they need the same flexible pricing for digital content that you recommend for academic libraries. Flexible pricing such as leasing and patron-driven acquisition will help libraries afford the always-available and on-demand delivery of digital content now expected by the public. Public libraries and public library systems also need the capacity to manage digital collections, and digital rights management, independently of digital content vendors.

As you recommend, the time for the development of a state-wide catalog initiative has arrived. But it is needed to solve a number of challenges and will require public and private partnerships. The catalog needs to integrate a readers advisory service that uses sophisticated algorithms, a service that is more effective when drawing on large databases of ratings, reviews and circulation. It needs effective autofill and spell-checking features. It needs to integrate with social media. It needs to index and link to ebook and other digital collections, as well as to a library’s physical collection.  It needs to be "local," similar to Worldcat Local, and capable of being fully embedded into local library websites to support community action around reading, literacy and life-long learning.  

There is a need for public library and community partnerships around digital literacy, as you recommend, but partnerships are needed around "literacy" as well. The Regents should consider the development of an evidence-based parenting and/or early childhood literacy curriculum that could be shared by the organizations of a community that provide services to families with preschool children, including public libraries and public library systems.  The Regents should consider the development of digital literacy standards, but this should be coordinated with other efforts, such as the Urban Libraries Council's initiative to develop public access technology benchmarks for public libraries.

School districts should absolutely promote access to school library online collections as you recommend. However, the Regents should require districts to survey student households to determine the capacity of students to access these resources; and school districts should provide authentication methods that allow students to access these resources with a school ID or library card instead of multiple vendor-based usernames and passwords. School districts need to adopt the 1990s-based technology long-used by academic libraries and public library systems.

Finally, the Regents should be fully aware of the significant financial, legal, and political challenges to the establishment of a national digital “public library.”  The desired development of this “library” should not influence their decisions or actions to the detriment of supporting and encouraging existing public libraries or public library systems, which are working to provide the best possible public library service to state residents.  -- Mike Nyerges, Executive Director, Mid-Hudson Library System

 1. General comments

The draft provides a comprehensive and forward-looking set of recommendations for promoting excellence primarily in what libraries do now.  The statement could be made even more powerful by adding a vision of how libraries should expand what they do in the future leveraging their expertise to serve society even better.

Some thoughts on such an expanded vision

1.1 Libraries as community centers ("heart of the community") for both physical and online communities, including social communities, learning communities, and communities of practice.

Libraries are uniquely positioned to support communities in which users are both consumers and producers of information, to support conversations that draw on available information (possibly interjected by a system that searches for information relevant to the conversation), and to archive and organize such conversations so that they can be used in the future.

1.2 Libraries as providers of intelligent information services and information analysis that provide answers not just pointers to where answers can be found.

1.3 Libraries as providers of services that integrate seamlessly with learning and work. This would include such things as providing apps that assist with reading and processing text; extracting data from text, multi-document summarization; converting text tables to spreadsheets; providing access to datasets and tools to analyze data; annotation tools; providing a personal information space that integrates reading, data analysis, and writing; add a collaboration facility to all of the above so people can work in groups.

1.4 Librarians as mentors, guides, and teachers who assist users of all ages and professions in moving in an ever larger information space and make sense of the information they find.

1.5 Libraries as providers of premium services for a fee, for example for small businesses that do not have their own special libraries, for hospitals, for research where intensive searches may be paid for out of a grant budget.  (There is precedent.  In the US and other countries there is a basic road system supported by taxes and then there are premium roads paid for with tolls.)

2 Specific comments

2.1 Under school libraries may want to add some of the following points

2.1.1 School librarians as Information Teachers

2.1.2 School librarians as School Information Officers who provide leadership in educational technology and in technology that supports teachers work such as lesson plan templates that facilitate lesson plan preparation, sharing, and reuse.

These roles of school librarians are somewhat independent from the presence of a physical collection in the school building.

2.1.3 The school library as an integral part of the system for learning and instruction.  This includes technical and content support for K-12 online courses.

2.1.4 Even stronger emphasis on public library – school library collaboration, for example school library participation in Summer Reading programs

2.2 Under public libraries add

2.2.1 Ensure quality and sustainability of small rural libraries

Strategies to this include making small rural libraries a part of multi-functional community centers that might include a recreation center, some presence of social services and employment service (even if just half a day a week), possibly the local school, etc. Funding 3Rs Councils to employ roving librarians with an MLS degree that work with a number of these libraries. Participation of small public libraries in systems, especially for cataloging (see 2.3.1) but also for access to digital materials as mentioned in several places in the report.

2.3 Library systems

2.3.1 Cross-system collaboration, for example, a common online catalog for all libraries in a school district (or, even better, a BOCES) and the public library system(s) in that area.

It is highly inefficient for small libraries to do their own cataloging, and it is also inefficient for public library systems and school library systems in their own area to create and maintain separate catalogs; this practice also hinders collaboration and use of public libraries by students.  This problem would go away entirely if there was a state-wide catalog covering all libraries in the state (possibly implemented in the framework of OCLC's WorldCat).  This is consistent with other recommendations for statewide repositories and statewide access to databases now in the document.

2.3.2 Mention the 3Rs Councils specifically and recommend adequate funding.

2.4 On formatting

Number all recommendations uniquely for easy reference

Notes from 2020 Vision RAC program at the 2011 NYLA Conference:

Notes vision

Change name from librarian to
Information technologist
Information specialist
Information teacher

Library systems
All libraries virtual, collaborative, wireless

p.11, last bullet.  What does it mean

Applauds p. 10 update standards

Define elementary requirements in terms of number of students

Monitoring where standards are not met in whatever area.
Regent Tillet.  There is no mechanism in NYSED.  But comptroller can come in.  Any resident can request.

P. 9 More specificity on training for trustees.

Public ignorance.  60% of incoming comm. College students think Sarah Palin is VP

50% of males do not read anything.  Advocate for learning, being smart

p. 7 Special libraries  Run by volunteers in one county
Cooperation between library systems, might lead to efficiency

Funding based on last census.  Should be shorter delay.

Agrees with library as community center.  People-oriented, physical space, not just digital

For students: Write letter to X about library vision

Helping people to find jobs

B-Top grants give money and methods/tool

Training of trustees

School library section .  Plethora of regulations prescribe class room teacher time, prevents teachers from working with the school librarian

Regent: accountability standards close the gap by driving the top down.

p. 4  bullet 3 "… in collaboration with public libraries"

bullet 4.  If public library is there, may not need to open another library in the eve

digitized + born digital

pushing funding to local gets on property tax and exacerbates inequality across the state

Efficiency of systems

Target audience of doc?  Directed at Board of Regents and legislature

Not always clear what the vision is
Needs some themes in common to all types of libraries
From reactive to proactive / adaptive

Functional components of a library staff, space, collection.  How should each change.  What will requirements

Desired outcomes should be stated for each recommendations

Exec summary

Break up multi-thought sentences

Agrees with public libraries recommendations
But missing: content of the library

Identify systems by name and describe each function.  Mention and build on what systems are doing now

Has seen this before in 1910 ALA collection including Dewey, Dana

Public library in order to inspire.  PL as an agent of change, spell out that mission and vision

Funding is missing

Trustee training.  

Learner's permit for Library Trustees, make it on the Web rather than paper

Information literacy / fluency

Digital public library of America -- Dagobert Soergel, Professor and Chair, Department of Library and Information Studies, Graduate School of Education, University at Buffalo; Professor Emeritus, Information Studies, University of Maryland

The initial draft of the 2020 vision is a marked improvement over the 2010 adopted Regents plan.  Critically, the 2020 vision acknowledges the role, contributions of, and challenges confronting, the academic and research library community.  Correcting the negligence of the 2010 document, the 2020 vision is praiseworthy.

Additionally, the 2020 general objectives and the recommendations for academic and research libraries are laudable, if unspecific.  On behalf of the academic and research library community I sincerely thank you.

If unchanged, the 2020 vision plan will have the full support of NYSHEI and its member institutions.  Yet, enhancement may be made that would improve the vision plan and provide a path towards its eventual realization.  These recommendations are made in a spirit of comity.

  1. Embrace revolutionary rather than merely evolutionary change.

A review of state budgets of the past fifteen years reveals a stark truth.  Through periods of good and bad economic news, state spending surges ever upward.  In contrast library aid is stagnant at best.

If library aid remained the same percentage of total state spending it was in 1997-98, today total library aid would top $173 million, or $94 million more than is currently appropriated.  If library aid merely grew at the rate of inflation, which has averaged 2.49 percent annually over the past fifteen years, today library aid would top $115 million, or $42 million more than is currently appropriated.

By any standard, merely moving forward is not enough.  The dramatic failure of the state to support libraries over the past fifteen years forces us to dramatically rethink our entire approach.

NYSHEI envisions libraries as the “information infrastructure” of the state.  Our belief that libraries should be viewed as a utility, similar to the power grid, is reflected in our mission statement that calls for statewide access to digital information resources for as broad a slice of the population as possible. 

We encourage the Regents to adopt a similarly bold stance, and to be willing to challenge everything, from out-moded technologies to out-dated processes, that might prevent realization of the goal.  An approach that centers on proscriptive improvements  to legacy systems of an age before computers and the internet is inadequate. 

  1. Cite specific policy proposals and benchmark implementation and funding toward full enactment.

A vision, without a plan or a price tag, is empty.  While understanding the Regents must manage a difficult political climate and multiple constituencies, the 2020 recommendations are unlikely to succeed if they remain peppered with vagaries like, “collaborate,” “develop,” and “actively address.”

The Governor’s Commission on Higher Education in 2008 specifically recommended “that the State invest $15 million to facilitate college and university libraries moving from individual library licenses to state-wide shared licenses.”  While as yet unfulfilled, that direct call to action has twice landed on the desk of the Governor.  The less specific charges set forth in the draft 2020 vision seem fated to even less success.

Among specific policy measures, NYSHEI suggests an update to the 1984 formula determining coordinated collection development aid, support for taxpayer access to publically funded research, enhanced dissemination of health care information resources found in the Clinical Information Resource Access act, and the commoditization of information resources under state procurement policies.

All of NYSHEI looks forward to working with the Regents Advisory Council and the Board of Regents to advance measures that bolster the vitality of all libraries in our state.   We thank you for working diligently to aggregate and voice the concerns of the many types and varieties of library that rely on your leadership. --  Jason Kramer, Executive Director, New York State Higher Education Initiative

The School Library Systems Association of New York State would like to thank you and the members of the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries for your ongoing support of library systems and libraries in New York State.
In reviewing the first draft of A 2020 Vision and Plan for Library Service, our group would like to reaffirm our support for the document created. There are a few key points that we strongly support or further recommend:

  • Adding the words “library systems” to the first statement under General Recommendations (Collaborate to integrate services… of library systems and libraries…)
  • Amending the Library Systems section, to clarify that consolidation should only be considered for same type systems (Public, School or 3 R’s).  As the King Research Inc. Study on Library Systems found in 1989, each type of library system serves a particular purpose.
  • Continuing and developing further the collaboration that already exists among different systems
  • Creating a statewide PreK-16 information fluency curriculum framework
  • Mandating an certified elementary school librarian and enforcing certified school librarians at every level to strengthen instructional leadership in meeting the New York State P-12 Common Core Learning Standards

Thank you again for your support. -- Danielle Yeomans, School Library System Association President

The Rural Library Roundtable finds it a matter of serious concern that the Regents Advisory Council First Draft does not mention even once in its first draft the special needs of rural residents or the importance of rural libraries and the library systems that serve them.

A significant number of residents of New York State live in rural communities and are served by rural libraries. Their information needs, while the same as other New York state residents, are delivered in a special way that recognizes geographic, socioeconomic, transportation and weather constraints.  We respectfully ask that the crucial role of rural libraries and the special needs of rural residents be included in any subsequent drafts.  

New York Library Association Rural Libraries Roundtable Statement

Statement to the Regents Advisory Council  by the New York Library Association Rural Library Roundtable for consideration for inclusion in "Creating the Future: A 2020 Vision and Plan for Library Service in New York State; Preliminary Recommendations of the New York State Regents Advisory Council on Libraries to the New York State Board of Regents.”

Simply stated, public and school libraries are the single most important source and often the only free source of access to information for residents in the rural communities in New York State.  Rural libraries serve as community centers, digital literacy training centers, lifelong learning centers, early literacy centers and are often the only source for information regarding jobs and careers, the only freely available source for access to e-government information, and the only source of broadband and Wi-Fi access. Rural libraries also continue to provide access to a wide variety of materials in all formats, both traditional and digital. 

As a result of often enormous geographic distances from urban and suburban centers (and the economic, educational, cultural and social opportunities these centers afford) and also from each other, residents of these rural communities depend on their local libraries to provide these services which they generally are not otherwise able to access.  In addition, public transportation is not widely available in rural communities and the proximity of a library to an individual’s home is crucial in maximizing access to library services and resources. 

A geographically-close local public library and/or a school library are often the ONLY sources of information and providers of access to the other services highlighted above.  It is imperative that the Regents, through their Vision for Library Service in 2020 in New York State, recognize the crucial role that rural residents play in the economic and social well-being of the state as a whole and also recognize their special needs and limitations in the library world.

In addition, the harsh weather for a significant portion of the year in most of upstate and northern NY (where the bulk of rural libraries exist) precludes travel to more urban and suburban centers for a significant portion of the year. In most upstate and northern communities, there is snow or freezing weather from October until early May which prevents people from traveling long distances. 

Access to electronic information and the broadband Wi-Fi capabilities is offered in many libraries to help mitigate these factors. In addition, cable, cell and other vehicles for access to the internet are not even possible in many rural areas of New York State.   Even if residents can afford broadband access, in many locations, they can only get access to the internet through their local public library.  In fact, a significant number of rural libraries in New York State serve as THE broadband service providers in their communities and surrounding areas.

These four factors, i.e., geographic distance, lack of transportation, serious weather challenges, and a lack of access to broadband for a significant portions of the state, prevent rural residents from traveling long distances to suburban or urban libraries and information centers and limit their access to digital information. Consideration of these special factors in developing the statewide plan and vision is crucial in recognizing the essential role of rural libraries in serving a significant number of New York State residents.   

Additionally, significant numbers of residents living in the rural communities in New York State live below the poverty level as evidenced by the attached USDA chart, and many are part of the working poor.  Public and school libraries in rural areas are often serve as lifelines to information on a number of essential topics such as jobs, health care, and a variety of literacies for the residents of these communities and can make a tremendous difference in the quality of their lives as their purchasing dollars continue to dwindle in our harsh economic climate. 

Agriculture is an essential industry and provides the backbone of our rural communities. In addition, our rural and agricultural communities are important factors impacting the economic health of New York state as a whole.  As agriculture and farming becomes more technologically dependent and driven it is crucial that those working in these industries have access to the same resources and technology including broadband and Wi-Fi as those industries prevalent in a more suburban or urban area.  Rural libraries provide this access.

In fact, the study, Libraries Connect Communities: Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study 2010-2011 (Hoffman, et al.  2011), examines the important role of public libraries in communities.  This study showed that 64.5 percent of library branches report that they are the only providers of free public computer and Internet access in their communities.  This number is significantly higher in rural communities where broadband access continues to be an issue for residents. 

Finally, public and school library systems that serve rural communities and their libraries are also essential and are the anchors and facilitators of a rural library’s ability to provide equity of access to information resources in their respective communities.  Public and school library systems provide professional expertise in library and information best practices to rural libraries that do not have the local resources to afford professional staff. They are able to provide networking services and delivery services among member libraries in the system, which increases access to the holdings of ALL libraries in the system. Systems also provide economies of scale and maximize purchasing power of libraries to help them assist residents in communities that have little in the way of local library funding. 

It is imperative that the Regents Advisory Council recognizes that rural libraries and library systems are ESSENTIAL resources in the lives of a significant number of residents of New York State and that these residents deserve the same quality and access to information as their urban and suburban counterparts. -- New York Library Association Rural Libraries Roundtable


Hoffman, Judy, John Carlo Bertot, Denise M. Davis, and Larra Clark. Libraries Connect Communities: Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study 2010-2011. Digital supplement of American Libraries magazine, June 2011.

Dear Mr. Nichols,

We would like to thank you and the other Regents Council members for the opportunity to once again comment on work being done in support of New York State libraries.  The current draft document “Creating the Future: A 2020 Vision and Plan for Library Service in New York State” is a noteworthy start to the process of bringing together libraries of all types and sizes for the betterment of the citizens of New York State.

As indicated in my testimony at NYLA on November 4th, the SUNY Council of Library Directors has a few suggestions, changes, and additions on the draft that we hope you will consider:

General Recommendations, Page 3
5th Bullet – Add “…Digital Public Library of America (”
“Actively address issues concerning the privatization of information and its impact on traditional models of library services such as free access, free lending and the intersharing of materials among libraries; advocate for the delivery of open content as embodied in initiatives such as the Digital Public Library of America ( or the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities.

School Libraries, Page 4

Add Bullet

"Encourage school districts to adopt a reading across the curriculum environment with library use as a keystone activity."

Academic and Research Libraries (Page 5)

Introductory paragraph – Add “…learning, critical thinking and…”
“Academic libraries are the engines that support teaching, learning, critical thinking and research, and collaboration on campus.”

4th Bullet - Reword with the focus on access
“Leadership in the open exchange and flow of information by advocating for increased open access and reduced copyright restrictions in support of knowledge preservation and dissemination."

5th Bullet - Add “…library, educational and local…”
“The continuation and strengthening of collaborations with other library, educational and local communities in support of life-long learning, information literacy and research.”

Add Bullet
“Advancing the primary role of academic librarians in fostering the integration of information literacy competencies into teaching and learning on their campuses to support student academic achievement and to prepare students for the global information economy that will shape their professional and personal lives.”

Add Bullet
“Participate in the Digital Public Library of America, in order that New York's freely available but disparate content is discover-able by the advanced technologies and interface of DPLA and to ensure that the diverse communities of New York are well- served by the content represented in DPLA and by the tools it develops."

In general, we are pleased with the emphasis on the importance of “Library as Place” – the buildings, the teaching and learning areas, and the overall ability to provide spaces where people can be a community is a vital function of libraries in New York State today.  We also appreciate the overriding theme of libraries working together to create an educated populous; nothing is more important to New York State than for these educational and cultural organizations to work together for the betterment of all.

Again, we appreciate the inclusion of Academic and Research Libraries as an integral part of the plan and once again thank the Council for their hard work on this most important document. -- Mary Donohue, Chair, SUNY Council of Library Directors

Having served as a School Library Media Specialist in public education for the past 22 years, I know the importance of maintaining a vibrant school library media program in all schools grades K-12.

With the shift in public education to include student assessment as part of the evaluation process to measure success and achievement and the incorporation of the New York State P-12 Common Core Learning Standards, the need for adequately funded library media centers that are staffed with New York State Certified Library Media Specialists has never been more important.

Having a certified Library Media Specialist in every school grades K-12 and mandating this requirement in K-6 is an essential component in making certain all students in New York State become life-long learners and responsible, information-literate citizens. -- Edward R. Vasta, Library Media Specialist, Manhasset Public Schools; President, Manhasset Education Association

As you discuss your vision and plans for the future of libraries in New York State, I respectfully request that you keep in mind the basic reason for libraries’ existence:  Sharing. It is the best financial value of all!  In times with the greatest economic challenges, libraries provide the greatest return for our precious financial resources materials, information, support, and equipment for all.  

However, these wonderful resources can not be shared if libraries are not adequately staffed by professionals who know their patrons, are aware of the latest and greatest in materials, and have the excitement and enthusiasm to bring it all to the communities they serve. All of the research indicates that students in schools with adequately staffed and funded libraries perform better, learn more and score higher!

I am a School Media Specialist in Harborfields CSD (Greenlawn and Centerport on Long Island). We have four schools: a high school, middle school, elementary school and primary school with two librarians (School Media Specialists).  In the Primary School, I serve 664 students and in the Elementary School, I serve 809 students, as well as the staff. With a set schedule I see each class every other week, at the most.  This means I teach each class from 12 – 16 times during the entire school year. That is just not enough for our students to become empowered to locate and evaluate information and recreational reading as they need and desire it.

It was not always this way – in the past when I served one school, I could make up missed classes, add research periods and most importantly get to know my students and reinforce their learning. Now I quickly introduce library skills and find my students just do not have the skills, knowledge and confidence they had when I saw them more often.  I can only get them excited about half as many books as when I saw them twice as much! My current students ask me questions like “What is a caption?” “What is a volume?” “Are biographies fiction or non-fiction?”  When the fifth graders are discussing website evaluation, I show them a website about saving the ‘Northwest Tree Octopus.”  More than half believe it to be a good site for research on endangered animals because it has photographs and a map! Check it out and see what you think!

I urge you to mandate a Certified School Media Specialist, Librarian in every elementary school.  

We give our students a good solid basis to feel confident in locating information for their research and personal needs as well as selecting recreational reading. Without a good foundation, our children are unable to discern valid facts from silliness, or quality literature from poorly written fluff. They need not only an introduction, but reinforcement. The time for students to become adept and confident in these skills is when they first encounter print and electronic media.

Thank you so much for the time and energy spent on studying the state of our libraries and considering what we can all do to make the most of these magnificent resources. -- Carol-Anne Walsh

The NOVELny Steering Committee met via conference call on November 9, 2011 to discuss the draft report. Steering Committee members then had the opportunity to contribute additional comments via a shared online document. We’ve divided our comments and suggestions into two main categories: content and format.



  • This is a crucial document, which will be used by the State Library, library systems, and individual libraries as a blueprint for service and allocation of funds (state and federal). The document as it stands now is not sufficient for this purpose.
  • The document also fails to offer anything in terms of how we might get from where we are to where we need to be, and there is very little indication that the items in the document will be supported in any meaningful way by the Regents.
  • Need to include value statements about libraries and discussion of the return on investment – libraries as a solution rather than a problem. How many people do we benefit versus how we are funded.
  • Public libraries section is very vague in general, and includes no mention of technology – technology is a crucial component for public (and all) libraries
  • The word “rural” does not appear anywhere in the document. There is a lack of understanding of the importance of libraries in some rural communities, for example, in a number of communities, the library may be the only place where broadband Internet is available.
  • No recognition of the extreme differences in demographics and needs across the diverse geographical areas across New York State.
    • Systems might be essential in some geographic areas, but able to be rethought in other areas.
  • Libraries are already doing a lot of things the report recommends.


  • The crucial issue of funding needs to be addressed much more pointedly – how are we going to get funds to be able to implement all of these ideas? It is difficult to present “mandates” when there is no funding mechanism to fulfill these.
  • The NOVELny databases are funded through Federal LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act) money. We must find a way to fund NOVELny databases with state money. The continuation of LSTA money, at its current level or at all, is in jeopardy – there are threats to the entire program at the federal level, plus threats to the level of funding due to changes in population and maintenance of effort at state level.
    • Cost-sharing or other shared funding models should be considered
  • We cannot wait until economic recovery arrives in New York for good funding (p.12). Libraries can play an important role in economic recovery – helping the unemployed apply for jobs and social services, helping entrepreneurs develop business plans, and providing value-added services to businesses that will aid in job creation (for an exceptional example: Miller Business Resource Center of the Middle Country Public Library on Long Island: )
  • “Sustaining our Libraries” section is much too weak – assumption of no new state aid – aren’t we essentially guaranteeing ourselves no new state aid by these statements?  Consider removing.
  • Measure library funding against funding in other areas - although carefully.  Library system aid is less than 1% of the total state budget. One example cited was that $87 million was paid in overtime alone for correctional staff in 2008/2009 ( This amount represents only slightly less than funding for ALL libraries that year; library funding has continued to be reduced each successive year after that. The purpose of using comparison examples would not be to try to divert money from other areas, but rather to present a concrete point of comparison.
  • Decreases in state funding could impact local funding if branches and member libraries are asked to contribute more dollars for services that systems manage - such as delivery and electronic resources - is this point stated explicitly enough?
  • Is there a way to index library funding to some other state expenditure? In order to receive additional funding as economic recovery progresses.
  • Need to spell out the return on investment argument that cooperative purchase saves dollars for each participant.
  • There are a number of ROI studies that show for every dollar spent on libraries (x)  the return is x+n.  While these are fairly primitive, there may be some data that could support our contention that investment in libraries has a direct economic benefit.  ROI studies throughout the United States have consistently shown that for every dollar invested in libraries there is usually a 100-700% return on investment to communities and sometimes even greater.  There was a study released not too long ago (OCLC?) that showed how the public values libraries in terms of community services, and one from Philadelphia that looked at the return.  None of these will stand up to rigorous social science analysis, but for the purposes of justifying a claim in a political context might be helpful. 
    • Consider using the Library Use Value Calculator - could use data from the State Library to show value of materials and services provided by all public libraries.

  NOVELny specifics, plus role of the Steering Committee:

  • What is meant by “sophisticated,” in the statement “The growth of NOVELny by adding more sophisticated resources for state access?” Is this a reference to efforts by NYSHEI to work on an academic collection? If so, should there be mention of cooperation with SUNY and private academics?
  • The NOVELny Steering Committee has come to focus on only part of its original charge from the Regents Commission on Library Services 2000 report: the statewide provision of resources (databases) to reach the largest number of citizens across New York State. Other groups have taken on other aspects of the original charge, for example, the 3Rs are working collaboratively on a statewide digitization process.
  • The NOVELny Steering Committee was established as an advisory committee to the State Library to assist in implementation of the last Regents plan. We are currently helping to manage a statewide collection. Is there still a place for this committee? Should our focus and charge be reconsidered?


  • General feeling that the document fails as a strategic planning document. A formal plan for how these recommendations are going to be carried out is lacking. The document lacks a clear mission, vision, goals, and steps to achieve the goals. 
  • WAS this document meant to be a strategic planning document? While the original charge was to describe and define a vision for library service, our understanding is that this will replace the 2000 report, and thus the document needs to be more strategic and operational. We do recognize that the 2000 report was written with the support of a commission which was funded, while the same task in 2011 has been given to a group of volunteers from RAC.
  • The draft plan is lacking a clear overarching mission and vision statement that addresses ALL libraries in New York State.
  • The report calls for greater collaboration within the library community and beyond.  The organization of it by sector does not align with that objective.
  • Some duplication throughout document - there are numerous instances where items are duplicated, for example, digital collections are mentioned on pages 5, 9, and 11.
  • Since there is such overlap across the sectors, consider a more topical arrangement.
  • The document could begin with general information, services, and ideas that cover all libraries statewide (e.g. digital collections, NOVELny databases, etc.) and then breakout by library type for some more specific items.
  • Consider a mission statement for each type of library and the steps to achieve each individual mission (all individual missions would then tie into the broader statewide mission statement).
  • What relation does this document have to the 2000 report – where does it pick up? Was everything accomplished in the previous document? Consider a mention of that report and then move forward into this plan.
  • Remove specific mention of devices and technologies and instead focus on outcomes – information needs to be delivered in whatever format.
    • Public libraries should be about delivery, ready to not just meet but also anticipate demand for whatever technology comes around. Need to provide access to information wherever people see a need, using whatever delivery method they want/need/is possible at that time
    • Some specific devices and technologies are mentioned in the document, for example: ebooks on handheld devices – we suggest making those references more generic so that the plan maintains relevance until 2020. We do not know what devices and technologies will be prevalent between now and then. Focus on the delivery modality. In earlier years, the focus was on digital content, but now there are other needs in addition to digital content, such as: apps, multimedia, electronic digital literacy, and utilitarian resources (e.g. homework help, career help, etc.)
    • We cannot wait for a common platform for ebooks
    • The section on academic libraries has practically a single-minded focus on digitization/preservation but for the vast majority of academic libraries in the state this is a fairly marginal activity.  Perhaps include language analogous to the school library language calling for closer integration with the work of discipline faculty and working to develop ways of assessing library impact on teaching learning and research.

-- Sarah Conrad Weisman, for the NOVELny Steering Committee

All the speakers at the NYC School Librarian conference on election day affirmed the essential role that librarians and teachers played in their lives and professions. On this subject, panelist Matt de la Peña  poignantly stated that all it takes is "a smart and savvy librarian or teacher who pairs the right book with the right kid" to inspire a generation of readers. -- Susan Piontkowski

Thanks for providing yet another opportunity for members of New York's library community to submit comments on the draft, "Creating the Future: A 2020 Vision and Plan for Library Service in New York State." I am a trustee on the board of the Mid-Hudson Library System, but I am not writing as a representative of that board -- that is, my comments are my own. I first provided input in April when we were invited to respond to ten questions you posed. I welcome the opportunity now to make a few more remarks. I'll be using the pdf version of the draft since it will allow me to use page numbers to more easily point to the text in various sections and paragraphs that have prompted my questions or comments.

Page 2, "General"

In the first paragraph, second sentence, I am concerned about the text that implies that because libraries empower individuals, they enable and facilitate the creation of wealth. The following sentence that talks about library "profit" is a little hard to follow as well. What I wonder is whether those two sentences really capture the way most library patrons and supporters think about their libraries and why they value them. While it may be true that libraries help drive the economic engines in small and larger communities by empowering their users with the knowledge they need to be successful in the workplace or as entrepreneurs, I don't think that's what comes to mind for most library users. The last sentence in that paragraph doesn't seem to quite fit there.

In the third paragraph, second sentence, I wonder if you might consider replacing "re-tasking" with "re-inventing" or "re-designing." And in the fourth paragraph, second sentence, you might consider replacing "economically deprived" with "economically disadvantaged."

Page 3, "General Recommendations"

You might consider adding a bullet that would indicate that NY libraries need to stay current with emerging trends and practices beyond our own borders. With the world growing smaller on a daily basis, and our access to information becoming greater, the need for NY libraries to pay attention and stay up to date about what is happening in libraries across the nation and around the world seems worth stating.

Page 4, "School Libraries"

I have to say that I find it curious that no place in the P-12 Common Core Learning Standards is the word "library" even mentioned. I know the background and history and authorship and intent of the Standards. But I wonder why there has been virtually no pushback about this missing piece from those who have decided to adopt these standards and run with them. But adopted they are. My hope is that New York will indeed develop its own document providing standards for school libraries--whether it's tied to the Common Core Learning Standards or not. In my opinion, it should be a stand-alone piece. Such a document is way overdue. A model to look at is the document published in the State of Texas. In particular, it emphasizes the critical role of certified, trained librarians working as instructional leaders and information specialists in a collaborative relationship with teachers. It also includes measures to determine whether the goals stated are actually met.

Under "Models for Success"

I think there may be a typo in the first sentence. I think maybe the sentence is supposed to state, "The best school libraries are fully integrated into the P-12 learning experience and are a building/district wide phenomenon, reaching into every classroom and into each student's home." But I'm not sure about the choice of the word "phenomenon" here. Perhaps the sentence is supposed to convey the idea that a school library should be a given or an expectation on every campus? The hub of each school? If that's the case, could the sentence be revised slightly to express this? I'm happy to suggest something if you like.

Under "Recommendations"

You might consider adding a bullet stating that school libraries will work with public libraries to ensure that each student has a library card for the public library that serves the community in which s/he lives. I realize that this was one of NYLA's legislative priorities this year, but I question why we need to have the NY State Legislature mandate this. Why can't school libraries and public libraries take the initiative to just make this happen on their own?

Page 6, "Recommendations"

In bullet 3, you might consider inserting the word "schools" between the words "libraries" and "community organizations."

Page 8 and 9, "Recommendations"

For consistency, on the last bullet, you should delete the word "Public" or else add it in all cases above where the text mentions "Library Systems."

Page 12, "Sustaining Our Libraries"

Second paragraph, first sentence, "While many of these recommendations do not require additional funds, some do." You might consider changing the words "some do" to "many do." I'm afraid that's going to be true.

On the subject of funding, I'm wondering if there could be a strongly-worded and brutally honest paragraph added that addresses the dire state of funding for libraries in New York. Since this situation is, sadly, only going to get worse, it seems that a companion paragraph about the critical need for advocacy at all levels wouldn't go wrong either.

One general comment is that in some of the "Recommendations" lists, there is no parallel construction and/or the statements in the bulleted lists that follow the colon cannot be read as completions of the sentence preceding the colon. I'm happy to point out those places if you like.

Thank you again for inviting our input, even if mine is being sent at quite literally the eleventh hour--or closer to midnight, actually. I hope that you will receive my comments as coming from someone educator Ted Sizer calls "a critical friend." Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments. -- Jean Ehnebuske

The Youth Services Consultants and Managers of New York State have reviewed the first draft of Creating the Future: A 2020 Vision and Plan for Library Service. We thank you for reading and including the recommendations we sent to you this past April. The thoughtful consideration that you gave to our vision for libraries of the future is greatly appreciated. We especially appreciated the emphasis the document places on:

  • Free and equal access to library services
  • Public libraries partnering with community organizations
  • The importance of advocacy and marketing library services
  • Early childhood education programs
  • Librarians having a voice in e-resource conversations
  • Our unique ability to leverage economies of scale

The phrase “homework help,” however, raised questions among our members. In Suffolk County, the phrase “homework help” usually refers to the online tutoring service provided by Brainfuse. Some of us thought “homework help” could imply one-on-one tutoring by library staff – a service most of our libraries can’t provide at this time. Others thought it meant offering the space and resources we have for homework to the best extent our space and budgets allow. If the Regents Advisory Council is using the phrase “homework help” to generally describe the support we’ve always provided to young people looking to succeed academically, perhaps another phrase could be substituted to avoid the specific and various connotations we’ve come to associate with the words “homework help.” 

We appreciate your time, and thank you for this important work. -- The Youth Services Consultants and Managers of New York State

As noted in the Board’s response to the Key Questions issued last spring, historical records, typically found in major research libraries and in historical societies and the local history collections of public libraries, are “vital components of library holdings, and their associated programs and services often foster dynamic engagement with libraries’ constituent communities.”

Historical records are also the unique and essential “primary sources” that students are required to understand and use under the New York State Learning Standards and Core Curriculum for English Language Arts and Social Studies.

In our judgment, although the language of the draft plan is in places inclusive of historical records, with phrases such as “the preservation of community history” and “local historical and cultural treasures,” it does not adequately distinguish these primary sources from typical library holdings. Nor does it mention the types of organizations that hold such records – historical records repositories and institutional archives, which often contain or are units of libraries.

These omissions could be remedied with some minor additions to and modifications of the draft, such as those suggested below:

General Recommendations, page 3, 1st bullet

Collaborate to integrate services and collections of all types of libraries [, archives, and historical records repositories] while developing a transparent and seamless world of library services that are ubiquitous and instantaneous yet personalized and flexible, serving all ages and needs.

School Libraries, Recommendations, page 4, new bullet

The Board of Regents and State Education Department should formulate policy and regulation that will…

  • Encourage school districts to collaborate with historical records repositories to provide student and teacher access to primary sources in support of the requirements of the New York State Learning Standards and Core Curriculum.

Public Libraries, Recommendations, page 6, 3rd bullet

Collaboration with other libraries [, archives, historical societies,] and [other] community organizations to develop seamless information literacy initiatives, promote cultural understanding and protect local historical and cultural treasures.

Special Libraries (Medical, Historical, Law, etc.), page 7, new bullet

The Board of Regents and State Education Department should formulate policy and regulation that will encourage…

  • The collecting, preservation, and public accessibility of historical records that document the local, regional, and state-wide history of New York.

-- John Suter, Coordinator, Documentation Services, New York State Archives, on behalf of Elaine Engst and Geoffrey Williams, co-chairs of the State Historical Records Advisory Board

I have solicited feedback on VISION 2020 from Librarians and Library System Directors from the Southern Tier region of New York.   These comments are K-12 centric:

  • The recommendations in VISION 2020 for the school libraries literally brought tears to my eyes, 
  • This document is very well written and brings a lot of excellent points to the forefront,
  • The second recommendation – mandating a librarian in every elementary library – is especially near and dear to my heart.  As librarians in our region retire or leave, so many of our districts – especially, the larger ones with multiple school buildings, are replacing these certified folks with displaced classroom teachers or even with Teaching Assistants or Clerks.  As a result, when I go into libraries where the person running the library is untrained in library management, students and staff have no idea how to access and/or utilize resources available.  Books/databases are not cheap – it’s a waste of money to buy items that are never going to be used if they can’t be found,
  • One area that is not addressed in VISION 2020 is the limited amount of NYS library programs that grant degrees in librarianship.  Online degree opportunities may address this concern – however, the correlation between mandating there be Librarians and few NYS degreed programs could limit candidate pools, 
  • The recommendation of NOVELny is very impressive!  A single virtual library is a concept that should be embraced.  Other states have modeled this concept, such as Pennsylvania’s ACCESS Pennsylvania.
  • Qualified Librarian staffing is a concern for both public libraries and school libraries.  The fiscal constraints experienced in NYS produce a strong need to have creative thinking while employing a “working smarter not harder” mentality. 
  • The Plan is a VISION!  How do we keep the Vision a reality in today’s pressing economic climate?
  • Recognition of digital books, e-readers, mobility learning is the cornerstone to tomorrow’s success!

-- Steve Manning, RAC Board Member; summarized from Librarians and Library System Directors from the Southern Tier region of New York

Last Updated: May 25, 2021 -- asm