Volume 25, Number 3, 2003

Leveraging the Library Services and Technology Act to Achieve Maximum Impact

by: Bill Wilson, Himmel and Wilson

The Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and its predecessors, the Library Services Act (LSA) and the Library Services and Construction Act (LSCA) have had a profound impact on the nature of library services in the United States over the course of the last fifty years. LSTA and the related acts that came before have enabled libraries to do some things they simply would not have been able to attempt without federal support. In other instances, LSA/LSCA/LSTA grants have hastened advances by years.

One of the most important common aspects of the three federal programs is that they have achieved long-term impacts out of proportion to the dollars expended, i.e., the federal dollars have been “leveraged” by the states that have administered the programs to achieve a greater impact than might have occurred if the same number of local or state dollars had been spent.

The ASCLA President’s Program at the recent ALA/CLA Conference in Toronto highlighted several ways in which such leveraging can be accomplished. Some of the effective methods included were:

  • Requiring matching funds
  • Funding public awareness and marketing efforts
  • Requiring training as a prerequisite for applying for competitive grants
  • Training specialists
  • Requiring adherence to standards as a condition of receiving grants
  • Requiring evidence of sustainability
  • Requiring evidence of collaboration
  • Leveraging through licensing
  • Awarding demonstration grants to “outstanding implementers”
The program also sounded a note of caution and urged states to resist the temptation of falling into the trap of funding ongoing programs (however important) with one of the only sources of “research and development” money available.

The PowerPoint presentation from the President’s program is available online.