Thursday, April 13, 2017

BadgerLink Behind the Scenes: History, Funding, and Support

You probably already know about all the great resources available through BadgerLink, a service provided by the Department of Public Instruction, but you may not know just how BadgerLink came to be, how it’s funded, and who is working behind the scenes to provide resources to all Wisconsin residents.

BadgerLink Beginnings

Partial screenshot from an early version of BadgerLink in February 2011, via the Internet Archive

BadgerLink first went live in September of 1998 after many months of planning and recommendations from the Library Technology Planning Conference. September 14, 1998 was declared “BadgerLink Day” by then-State Superintendent John Benson, and BadgerLink has been providing statewide access to online resources ever since. At inception, BadgerLink’s collection included 4,000 periodicals and over 40 newspapers from vendors EBSCO and UMI. The collection has grown over the years to include census records, over 8,000 full-text magazines and journals, 1,990 full-text reference books, 1 billion full-text newspaper articles, 18,000 videos and video clips, and much more from 11 different vendors. For more of BadgerLink’s early history, check out the Channel newsletter archives.

BadgerLink Funding
BadgerLink resources are paid for with a combination of state and federal funds. The state funds are from the Universal Service Fund (USF), which is comprised of surcharges on telecommunications. You can read more about the USF in Wisconsin on the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin website. The federal funding comes from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), an independent agency of the federal government that serves as the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums.

The USF provides 2.6 million dollars to the BadgerLink program, covering the cost of the resource subscriptions, and IMLS provides $283,679 to support the BadgerLink program. While a small amount compared to what’s provided by the USF, the IMLS funds go toward staffing and access, providing critical services from authentication and access to outreach and training. Without the IMLS funds, there would be no way to access BadgerLink resources, and no team to troubleshoot, make updates, and spread the word about resources to Wisconsin residents.

The BadgerLink Team
The BadgerLink team is comprised of 5 DPI staff members who spread the word about BadgerLink to schools, libraries, organizations, and individuals statewide, and who maintain access to BadgerLink resources for all Wisconsin residents.

The BadgerLink Team (L-R): Elizabeth Neuman, Kara Ripley, Gail Murray, Martha Berninger, Ben Miller

Martha Berninger is the director of Resources for Libraries & Lifelong Learning, and she oversees the BadgerLink program and team.

Ben Miller is the assistant director of RL&LL, and he provides oversight, technical support, and troubleshooting for BadgerLink.

Elizabeth Neuman is the Technical Services Coordinator at RL&LL, and she maintains a close connection with vendors, provides technical support, and manages statistics for the BadgerLink program.

Kara Ripley is the BadgerLink Training and Reference Librarian, and she answers research questions and coordinates training for Wisconsin organizations.

Gail Murray is the Content Management & Outreach Librarian at RL&LL, and she provides technical support, outreach, and training for BadgerLink.

Please contact the BadgerLink Team with any questions about the program’s history and funding, access issues, training requests, or for any other BadgerLink questions.

Written by:
Gail Murray, Resource for Libraries and Lifelong Learning