Tuesday, May 3, 2016

LSTA Updates

This week librarians from around the country are gathering in Washington, DC to meet with legislators and share stories about the difference libraries make in the lives of people in our communities. We will have more to report later about the Wisconsin contingent's trip led by Assistant State Superintendent Kurt Kiefer and Julie Schneider, Director of the Ebling Library on the UW Madison campus. Re-authorization of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) will be on the table in 2016. LSTA is the only federal funding assistance that libraries receive.
Image of the U.S. Capitol building
Image of the U.S. Capitol Building

A couple of weeks ago LSTA Coordinators from the all U.S. states met in Louisville, Kentucky (home of the Kentucky Derby) with the Institute of Museum and Library Services' (IMLS) Program Officers. 
Churchill Downs, Image of the Kentucky Derby horse race
Discussion focused on evaluations of grant projects as part of the Grants to States program within all states using the new reporting system.  The reporting system in its debut created challenges with the IMLS questions and the software mechanics. Project officers believe that there was good information in this first year’s data and are confident that the development of a user guide will greatly enhance feedback from library state agencies. Data reported next year will better convey the project responses from libraries about:
  • Who they reached out to? 
  • What they did in their community projects? 
  • What did they accomplish? 
Officers from IMLS shared that there were many recorded partnerships from the evaluations. However, the partnerships that IMLS was looking for needed “formality” for the purpose of evaluation. That meant there would need to be a memorandum of understanding (MOU) or the equivalent (a letter perhaps) with a written agreement for a partnership to exist.

The report on activities or the "what was done" portion of the evaluation should be reported if it represents at least 10% of the grant funds. Their message then was that activity reporting should be limited to no more than 10 activities.

A website shared as part of a state project funded with National Leadership LSTA dollars is called the Creative Aging Toolkit (http://creativeagingtoolkit.org ) for Public Libraries. It is a free, online resource for librarians. It offers access to information about aging and libraries, creative aging research, and best practices in the field. The toolkit contains insights, tips, tools and templates to be used when planning, implementing and sustaining successful programs. It is funded in part by a National Leadership Grant to Westchester Library System through the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

There are two reports due next year to IMLS about the WI LSTA program that you will hear more about in the next several months. The Five-Year LSTA Evaluation for 2013-2017 is due in March 2017. Additionally, from feedback results of the evaluation we plan to assess trends that will inform 2018-2022 LSTA Plan for Wisconsin. So the hope is that with the help of our library community we will be able to share information about:
  •  Whether priorities in Wisconsin are shifting and why?
  •  How trends are playing out in the state/community?
  •  Which trends will have the greatest effect on the state grant program? Why?
  •  How might these priorities and trends inform the next Five-Year Plan?
Trends that IMLS notice currently and that may influence our future plans include: cultural competencies, participatory technology, early literacy, robotics, makerspaces, data creation, collection and review; digital hubs, changes in information delivery, librarians trained as facilitators, the aging population, computers and kids as volunteer trainers for older persons, partnering, budgetary cuts/travel eliminations, library workforce’s need for greater diversity.

Written by:
Terrie Howe, Public Library Development Team