KLA Sets Legislative Agenda

by Jim Minges and Donna Lauffer, KLA Governmental Affairs Committee Co-Chairs

The Kansas Library Association’s legislative agenda for 2008 will include five important requests for funding. Those items will be presented to the Kansas Legislature as part of the State Library’s budget. The following is a list of those items. Also included here are additional details about each item.
  1. Provide funding to establish a statewide delivery system for library materials: $250,000
  2. Provide funding for LearningExpressLibrary, a statewide database to assist Kansans in career and education test preparation: $200,000
  3. Statewide Youth Services Consultant for libraries: $60,864
  4. Digitizing Kansas related newspaper files: $70,000
  5. Continuing the outreach program for Talking Books: $76,500

Item #1: Statewide Courier Service

What is being requested?
  • The State Library of Kansas is requesting $250,000 from the legislature to help finance a statewide courier system to transport books from one library to another across the state.
  • The total cost of the system is estimated to be $500,000, with $250,000 coming from participating libraries, the Kansas Library Systems and the State Library.
Why does Kansas need a library courier system?
  • A courier system would enhance library service for Kansans by providing timely exchange of library materials across the state.
  • A courier system would encourage sharing of tax-funded library resources.
  • A courier system is cost-effective.
  • A courier service saves staff time and money in packaging and sending.
  • A courier system levels the playing field for all Kansas libraries to loan and borrow materials for their customers.
How would it work?
  • Libraries who wish to participate would arrange for the courier system on a weekly, tri-weekly or daily basis depending on the library’s need.
  • The State Library of Kansas would contract for statewide delivery service with a courier company (such as one currently serving a bank or pharmaceutical company) or with a neighboring State Library, to provide the service.
  • Administration of the program would be the responsibility of the State Library.
What would it cost?
  • Based on courier systems in neighboring states, the average cost for a library will be approximately $1.00 per item.
  • Currently, it costs from $2.75 to $4.75 to send library material in Kansas using the U.S. mail, UPS or FedEx.
  • Savings to the local library from a delivery system would likely go towards the increase of volume expected when books are delivered in a cost-effective, timely and dependable way.
  • Savings would also be realized in staff time, with less preparation needed for shipping and delivery to the post office or sending location.
  • Savings in wait time for the material to arrive is also important. Currently, four to fourteen days are needed for the delivery of materials from one library to another; a courier system could reduce that to 48 hours.
  • A courier system would enable Kansas libraries to deliver more service for less money.
  • $250,000 in state funds for a courier amounts to less than $.10 per person in Kansas.

Item #2: LearningExpressLibrary, a database to assist Kansans in career and educational test preparation

What is being requested?
  • The State Library of Kansas is requesting $200,000 to support licensed access to LearningExpressLibrary, an online database of career and educational tests.
  • LearningExpressLibrary aggregrates tests into one, online, site.
  • The requested funding would make LearningExpressLibrary available to all Kansas residents.
Why is it important to provide this service for Kansas?
  • Because high school students, college graduates and adult Kansans must take career and educational tests every year.
  • LearningExpressLibrary is a comprehensive, interactive resource for assuring successful standardized test results.
  • LearningExpressLibrary includes practice tests and tutorial courses.
  • Learners take tests online.
  • Scoring, and answer analysis feedback, is immediate.
  • There is no limit on the number of practice sessions.
Examples of tests included:
  • GED
  • EMS
  • SAT
  • ACT
  • GRE
  • Paramedic
  • Nursing
  • Real Estate
  • Many more
What would it cost?
  • It is estimated that the licensing cost would be $200,000.
  • That cost would include access by every Kansas library and resident.
  • The service would be available from the library, home or office.
  • Kansans could also access LearningExpressLibrary 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Item #3: Statewide Youth Services Consultant for Libraries

What is being requested?
  • Kansas libraries focus on children as an important constituency.
  • Statewide, there are programs, grants and partnering opportunities available to assist libraries in serving children.
  • No one person on the state level is dedicated to children’s services.
  • The youth services consultant would be an employee of the State Library dedicated to working with libraries to enhance children’s library services all across the state.
What would it cost?
  • The State Library would seek a qualified youth services librarian with experience in building and managing appropriate programs. It is estimated that $60,864 is needed to attract a qualified candidate for this important work.

Item #4: Digitizing files

What is being requested?
  • Many times when the legislature worked a bill, only the briefest notation was available to give a clue as to the reaction, or response, from the press at the time.
  • The State Library has collected newspaper articles on legislative subjects for decades. This collection of approximately 500,000 newspaper articles, in paper format, helps researchers understand the context of a legislative issue.
  • This is a valuable file and, even in its present state (which is not easily accessible except by coming to the library), there are many, many people who use it.
  • We propose to begin putting these Kansas-centered articles into a web-accessible, searchable, archival collection.
  • The articles will be scanned, metadata will be added and it will be stored on an archival server.
What would it cost?
  • With the greatly enhanced access to, and the usefulness of, this collection, it is estimated the total cost would be near $260,000. The State Library would like to do the digitization in decades and $70,000 would cover one decade.
  • Total funds requested is $70,000.

Item #5: Talking Book Service Outreach Effort

What purpose would this serve?
  • The National Eye Institute estimates 39,000 Kansans, 40 years and older, are currently eligible for the State Library of Kansas Talking Books service. In addition, the Administration on Aging estimates there will be continued growth in the population of those 65 years old and over. It is also known that during the aging process the ability to interact with standard print media is affected.
  • The Talking Books service provides audio books to 7,100 Kansans. Why has this number not grown along with the increase in the population of older Kansans?
  • For the most part, eligible users don’t know the Talking Books service is available.
Why is the enhancement being requested now?
  • Last year an outreach proposal to promote Talking Books service was supported by the Governor and funded by the legislature.
  • Funding, however, was implemented within budget allocation as a single-year enhancement. That funding was greatly appreciated and will allow for initial development of a meaningful Talking Books outreach effort.
  • But a one year limit will not allow the developments put in place this year to be sustained for the most effective impact.
Why is a sustained effort needed?
  • The need for a Talking Books outreach effort will increase significantly in 2008 – 2012 and beyond.
  • The National Library Service, which funds the cost of the actual talking books, will implement Talking Books digital books, players and downloads as the new access format starting in 2008 and over the next several years. A successful transition to this new format will require considerable outreach.
  • The Kansas population is increasingly mobile and diverse. Reaching such a population, on an ongoing basis, will also be aided by an effective outreach effort.
  • Outreach materials developed during a one year period will soon be outdated and no longer effective.
  • Single-year funding will not address the need for thorough evaluation.
  • Sporadic funding would necessitate repeating time- and fund-consuming phases, and use funds better spent on actual outreach measures.
What’s been done so far?
  • The State Library and Talking Book sub-regional libraries have engaged in strategic planning.
  • The State Library of Kansas has assembled representatives of user communities for input and planning.
  • The State Library of Kansas has visited with vendors.
  • This year’s funding will allow for elemental design and implementation.
What would it cost?
  • To allow the State Library to improve, restore and ensure ongoing outreach efforts for Talking Books.
  • To develop an outreach effort designed to reach more qualified users.
  • To implement an ongoing outreach plan that will achieve enhanced access to improved services.
  • An ongoing enhancement of $76,500 is requested.

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