Oklahoma’s LSTA Projects
ODL receives approximately $2.1 million each year under the Grants to States Program, and has two years to use the dollars. The following projects were funded from October 2014 through September 2016. The Department of Libraries’ FFY 2015 report to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) was submitted in December of 2016.
Projects below are listed based on the amount of federal dollars used for funding, from highest dollar amount to lowest.
Statewide Databases ($529,004)
As part of the agency’s Digital Prairie resource, ODL offered EBSCO and Britannica School databases to all types of libraries and their patrons throughout the state. EBSCO offers access to health, business, and educational resources as well as millions of full-text magazine and professional journal articles. Oklahomans performed more than 50 million information searches via EBSCO last year. Oklahoma elementary school and middle school students used the Britannica School online encyclopedia almost 500,000 times during the same period. ODL’s purchase of statewide licenses provides 24/7 access to these resources for all residents of the state. ODL has been offering information databases since 1998, and they are a lifeline for small libraries and small school districts. For larger libraries, the offerings through Digital Prairie frees up funds in the local budget to purchase more specialized resources and meet other patron needs. (This is a continuing, annual project. Britannica School is no longer offered.)
Resource Sharing/Interlibrary Loan ($459,447)
ODL has been helping connect Oklahoma readers with library materials for decades. Services have adapted as technology changed from interlibrary loan (ILL) requests via teletype machines in the 1960s to instant access bibliographic files via the Internet. The agency purchases a statewide subscription to the WorldCat database platform, allowing other Oklahoma WorldCat libraries to save money by avoiding an individual purchase cost to access the worldwide catalog of 2.5 billion resources. ODL also purchases the WorldShare Interlibrary Loan interface for 30 public libraries, and provides ILL services directly to smaller libraries. ODL facilitated 67,882 ILL requests in FFY 2015. In addition, ODL’s main collection of materials serves as an Interlibrary Loan resource, and the agency purchases materials not available in the state for small libraries, institutions, schools, and special libraries. (This is a continuing, annual project. A portion of these funds contributed to the salaries of ODL personnel who manage the statewide ILL program.)
This has been a multi-year project to help Oklahoma public libraries assess and improve their technology networks. Too many of the state’s libraries were not receiving the promised broadband speeds as advertised by their Internet Service Providers. Using results from the Edge project (see entry below), ODL targeted libraries that could benefit from a network assessment to identify any hardware or network problems that were preventing the library from providing the highest possible speeds to their patrons. In addition to the assessment, some libraries also received remediation grants to implement assessment recommendations. By the end of 2016, 51 libraries had received a Network Assessment and/or Remediation grants. Assessments were also a tool in providing guidance to libraries as they applied for E-rate assistance. (This is a continuing project.)
Health Literacy ($137,619)
The United Health Federation has ranked Oklahoma as one of the least healthy states. The American Medical Association reports that poor health literacy is a stronger predictor of a person’s health than her/his age, education, socioeconomic status, or ethnicity. Grants helped 23 libraries and literacy councils initiate and/or expand health literacy programs in the past five years. Thousands of Oklahomans have benefited. Focuses include the delivery of health information in plain language and sponsorship of programs that focus on healthy choices and activities. (This is a continuing project. A portion of these funds contribute to the salaries of two ODL literacy staff members to implement, support, and coordinate the grants to individual libraries and literacy programs.)
The OK Virtual Library is a consortium that provides e-books and audio books to 85 public libraries and library systems that have service populations below 100,000. Two tribal libraries also use the service to provide e-content to their patrons. ODL has been providing a collection grant to the virtual library in recent years to increase the number of titles available for check out. During the most recent year, 411,950 e-books, 113,845 audio books, and 1,825 streaming videos were circulated to Oklahomans through OK Virtual Library.
ODL has used federal funds since 1969 to help libraries host summer programs. During the summer of 2016, more than 98,000 children, teens, and preschoolers enrolled in library programs—and thousands more attended summer programs at their community library. There are a number of components to ODL’s youth services project, including staff development, purchase of summer reading materials for public libraries, a children/YA book collection for libraries to review, book review podcasts, and support for the state’s Sequoyah Book Award program for children, intermediate students, and high schoolers. (This is a continuing, annual project. A portion of these funds contribute to the salary of ODL’s Youth Services Librarian.)
Immigration and Citizenship ($86,500)
Oklahoma is home to more than 218,000 immigrants according to the American Immigration Council, and state literacy programs have reported a 40% to 60% increase in the number of clients seeking English language instruction and information on U.S. citizenship. Working with USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), Citizenship Corners have been established in 10 libraries and one partner organization through LSTA grants. Grants also funded collaborations between libraries and literacy councils in Harmon and Jackson counties, Cleveland County, Bartlesville, and Oklahoma County. Successes reported: 816 immigrants representing 35 countries served; 38 new American citizens; and 138 individuals working on citizenship preparation. (This is a continuing project. A portion of these funds contribute to the salaries of two ODL literacy staff members to implement, support, and coordinate the grants to individual libraries and literacy programs.)
The purpose of this LSTA grant was to provide library materials and services to the individuals incarcerated in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ facilities. On average, there were approximately 1,000 individuals incarcerated at each institution. There were few full-time library staff in any of the 17 adult prison libraries. The Department of Corrections did not allocate any funds for the libraries despite a high demand for reading material. Additional materials were selected for three juvenile correctional facilities’ libraries to help build their basic collections. Providing funding for library books fulfilled a necessary cultural and practical service to the residents of these correctional institutions. (This is a continuing project.)
Literacy Tracker is a web-based literacy tracking system developed in phases to replace the outdated and failing system used by Oklahoma adult literacy programs for more than thirteen years. Phases I and II successfully tracked information and reading gains of adult learners. The recently completed Phase III focused on including tutor and volunteer information and created new reporting capabilities.
Literacy Development ($74,365)
ODL’s adult literacy project began in 1984 under the title “Oklahoma…Do you READ Me?” The project led to the establishment of volunteer adult literacy councils—most through local libraries—throughout the state. The effectiveness of community-based programs is dependent upon the experience and professionalism of their staff, board, and volunteers. The agency’s commitment to assist the 42 local councils and other adult literacy programs continues through the provision of training and development for literacy directors and literacy trainers, and indirectly for volunteer tutors. (This is a continuing, annual project. A portion of these funds contribute to the salaries of two ODL literacy staff members to implement, support, and coordinate the grants to individual libraries and literacy programs.)
Public libraries that serve populations under 7,000 were eligible to receive funding for automation, computers, and/or printers/scanners to refresh their library technology. A requirement to receive funding was to complete the Edge Assessment (see entry below) and create an Edge Action Plan, which is intended to increase their awareness of technology and improve their ability to form community partnerships. Thirty-five (35) of these qualifying libraries met the requirements and received 48 computers, two automation systems, and 26 other technology devices.
Edge is an online tool that helps Oklahoma public libraries assess their public access technology services and plan improvements for the benefit of their communities. Beyond the assessment, libraries are provided with training opportunities, an action plan application, a peer review to see how they compare to like-sized libraries, and communication tools to share their participation and results with stakeholders, partners, and customers. ODL was one of three state library agencies that joined other partners to create Edge. The agency purchases a statewide license for all Oklahoma public libraries. The agency has also hired a part-time consultant to help libraries with their assessment and to identify projects and grant opportunities to help communities improve their services. ODL has used state Edge results to fund the Network Assessment/Remediation and Small Library Technology grants (see entries above.) Although voluntary, 90% of the state’s public library/library systems have participated in Edge. (This is a continuing project.)
Computer/App Lab ($50,496)
The ODL board originally approved the use of LSTA dollars for a computer training lab for public and institutional library staffs in 1997. The plan “to provide an effective hands-on training environment and access to computer technology” continues to this day. The lab has adapted to the times, offering training not only on information technologies and production software, but on social media and selected apps for smart phones and tablets. More than 40 classes were offered last federal fiscal year through 72 individual sessions. Attendance at classes totaled more than 430. The training not only helps librarians with their jobs, but helps library staff assist patrons with both information retrieval and software. Today, literacy and tribal library staffs may also take advantage of the offerings. In addition to hardware and software, federal dollars also pay for class presenters, curriculum development, and a part-time lab coordinator/presenter. (This is a continuing project.)
This project provided funding for 35 public library directors and staff members to attend a state, regional or national library conference to learn crucial skills, new program ideas, and expand their horizons by networking with others in similar situations or entirely different circumstances. Most Oklahoma library directors and library staff, especially those in rural locations, do not have a Master’s of Library Science degree, nor do they have the opportunity to connect with other librarians. Attendance at state, regional and/or national conferences introduced attendees to new ideas, programs, authors, technologies, and resources that can be utilized at the local level. Networking with other librarians and learning about their programs increased the attendees’ confidence and built their desire to replicate successful activities. (This is a continuing project.)
Images of Oklahoma ($33,133)
ODL offered training and support to a group of sixteen libraries and museums to digitize materials relevant to the social, cultural, ethnic, and historical content within their unique local collections. Using standard best practice guidelines, a two-day workshop was held for library participants to review collections; identify copyrights; establish scanning guidelines; learn professional metadata standards for documenting digital collections; and begin moving toward shared digital content. Project collections are hosted on ODL’s Digital Prairie website or on local servers with links on Digital Prairie. The goal of the project is to provide a platform for digitizing at-risk collections and making them accessible to the public. (This is a continuing project.)
The Institute of Museum and Library Services allows state library agencies to use up to 4% of their funds through the Grants to States initiative for administering the LSTA program. ODL used less than 1% of the agency’s federal grant in this way. Some of these funds contributed to the salary of the agency’s federal programs officer.
Certification for Public Librarians ($17,485)
Officially initiated in 1996, the certification program helps public library staff develop skills and understand the basics of librarianship in order to improve services to Oklahoma residents. Directors and staff of most public libraries in the state lack education in librarianship although they are expected to perform the duties of degreed librarians. Working with the Oklahoma Library Association, ODL initiated the Institute of Public Librarianship and created a curriculum for a certification program. The Institute offers eight basic in-person classes in locations throughout the state. The program encourages continuing education through a renewal process, allowing those who have obtained certification to remain certified as long as they have completed 40 continuing education hours over three years. The renewal process’s goal is to encourage public library staff to continue learning and to provide innovative library service to the public. At the beginning of 2017, there were 591 actively certified librarians in the state. (This is a continuing, annual project.)
LSTA dollars were used to purchase a maintenance contract for the three video conferencing units available at ODL’s Allen Wright Memorial Library. The conferencing equipment is used for meetings and distance education.
Website Development ($12,998)
The agency provides website templates, hosting services, and software training for library and literacy councils to facilitate and encourage these organizations to maintain functional, attractive websites. In order for the local librarians to have the skills to maintain the websites, ODL required one or two library/literacy staff members to attend a two-day course to learn the website editing software. ODL worked with a vendor to develop templates, and subscribed to a book-display widget for libraries to utilize on their sites. Educational materials were purchased for students who attended training. Forty-eight (48) libraries/literacy councils are participating in the project.
Public library statistics and services were collected from 213 Oklahoma public libraries using the Bibliostat Collect and Connect online survey databases which were purchased with federal funds. This information was used to determine State Aid eligibility and to report library statistics to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). This was the third year Oklahoma public libraries used the Bibliostat Suite to submit their annual reports.
Miami Public Library in Ottawa County, a participant in the Health Literacy initiative, was the recipient of this special purpose grant to enhance health information services and provide activity programs for targeted groups: children who participate in the TRAIL (Together Raising Awareness for Indian Life) Diabetes Prevention Program through the Boys & Girls Club, senior citizens who participate in a Walking Strong program, and members of the general public interested in community gardening. One in eight Ottawa County residents has diabetes (a rate 33% higher than the national average), 36% of the county’s residents reported no leisure time physical activity, and one-third of the residents have a BMI greater than 30%. Joining the library and the Boys & Girls Club in the partnership were Northeastern Tribal Health Systems, Integris Miami Hospital, and the Ottawa County Health Department.
Forty-six (46) Oklahoma public libraries had received video conferencing equipment through ODL’s BTOP grant several years ago. It was time to provide a “refresher” and/or first-time training for staff at these sites. A vendor was hired to provide virtual customized training using a “train-the-trainer” model with strategies targeted to the following topics: health, employment, education, and e-government. Two main subjects were covered: programming with video conferencing, and holding effective meetings via video conferencing. Hand outs created by the vendor will be used in further ODL-sponsored training.
This project was designed to impact the professional readers’ advisory and literary criticism skills of Oklahoma librarians who provide services to children and young adults, 0 to 18. Ten participants received books from a list selected and purchased by the ODL Youth Services Consultant. The participants were selected “first-come, first-served” when the opportunity opened. The participants were required to read between six and twelve titles from the list and to post reviews of the books they selected to ODL’s Children and Young Adult Listserv on a timely basis. Criteria for evaluation and format for reviews were included in the grant and made available to all participants.
ODL used state funds to pay for one state library staff member and two practicing library directors to attend the Research Institute for Public Libraries (RIPL) in Colorado Springs. The federal funds paid the travel expenses. RIPL’s mission was to engage participants in three days of hands-on, intensive workshops about evaluation, design, and implementation; data collection; data use for strategic planning; measures for reporting library impact; and tips for aligning research efforts with national initiatives like Edge (see entry above).