Volume 27, Number 3, Fall 2005

LSTA Success Stories Site Contains Real Gems; Needs Updating

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to see what every state is doing with its LSTA federal funding? ASCLA maintains a searchable database of “LSTA Success Stories” on its Web site. The good news is that the stories are wonderful (see below); the bad news is that many states have not reported for a long time or at all. We hope that LSTA Coordinators around the country will read this and get inspired.


In northern California, 2 percent of the population resides on 25 percent of the state’s land mass. The challenge of delivering library services to these people is different from that faced in the more populous urban and suburban areas of the state.

To meet those challenges, the California State Library in partnership with the Mountain Valley Library System launched a 2005 initiative that takes advantage of newer technologies to overcome geographic distances and inclement weather.

The “Windows on the World’” component of the initiative brought outstanding California cultural and historical resources—live— to people from the mountains of Mono County to the southern deserts of Imperial County. For example, children “toured” the San Diego Zoo from their libraries through videoconferences; they were able to ask questions and receive answers directly from the live guide. Library staff members also benefited from the technologies that brought training to remote locations. Through a combination of simultaneous videoconferences and webcasts, librarians learned about topics ranging from serving small businesses to adolescent psychology. They were also able to ask questions and receive real-time answers, either on-screen at the videoconference sites or through e-mail. The training sessions are archived and may be used by all.

The mission of the Rural Initiative Resources Clearinghouse is to create and maintain an online archive of resources to support California's rural public library directors and staff in serving their public mission more efficiently. By seeking out and sharing examples of commonly needed documents, materials, and programs in all aspects of library operations and services, the clearinghouse benefits rural libraries by eliminating the need to "reinvent the wheel" for every new policy, practice, procedure or project needed at the local level. While people must register to obtain access to the clearinghouse, there is no fee. For more information, contact Carla Lehn.

South Carolina

Staff from seven member libraries met at various times to make decisions for creating the Palmetto Polaris Consortium and to develop common practices for operation of the system to form the foundation for delivery of improved services to patrons. Because of a need for a neutral location for five servers and the administration of the system, the seven libraries decided to utilize the SC Chief Information Officer’s Office (CIO) and its server farm. Charges for this service are well below the cost the member libraries would have paid for an FTE to handle this function. The Consortium will pay the vendor to administer the system (back-ups, reports, updates, problems, etc.) -- also sparing the expense of another FTE. These arrangements are also expected to eliminate foreseeable technical problems.

Phase I has shown that more meetings need to be incorporated into the activities for phase II. This working relationship is viewed as just a beginning. It is expected to strengthen and to expand beyond the area of automation. The automation upgrade will continue under another fully developed phase II project. The member libraries see the role of the CIO as a possible incentive to lead other libraries to join the group. The member libraries learned that compromise and sharing of ideas, staff and resources are essential to the success of this type of project. This is the first time in South Carolina that libraries not contiguous to each other have come together to develop a working partnership to provide better access to materials and services for patrons. This grant sets the stage for true development of cooperation in resource sharing. For more information, contact Faith Line, Director of the Sumter County Library.

Also funded in South Carolina, PASCAL (Partnership Among SC Academic Libraries) is building the South Carolina Digital Library. The project seeks to leverage the capabilities of the consortium’s fifty-eight members to construct a highly productive knowledge environment where members of its academic and research community have equitable, immediate access to library information and services regardless of their location. As one of the cornerstones of the PASCAL initiative, the SC Digital Library will preserve and enhance accessibility to the cultural resources husbanded by the state’s libraries and archives—not only for scholars and college students, but also for elementary and high school teachers, students and citizens. To reach this goal, this phase I planning project will produce the blueprint for development of the SC Digital Library. PASCAL will systematically pursue coordination and execution of digitization initiatives with emphasis on inter-institutional cooperation. For more information, contact Richard H. Moul, Executive Director.


In Washington, the focus of the Virtual Reference Service project is continued development of best practices, methods and standards for creating and sustaining virtual reference services in Washington State libraries of all types. The goal is to provide a range of digital reference services that address the informational and educational needs of all Washingtonians, while realizing significant cost savings for Washington libraries and enhancing the ability to provide responsive, expert service by cooperating together in this effort. Through grant awards for collaborative demonstration projects, libraries explore options for email and chat reference service, question referral for subject expertise, shared scheduling, policy development, marketing materials and activities, software training, and related issues. The project supports library activities through site visits, conference programs and exhibits, an annual survey of virtual reference services in Washington, a comprehensive online reference training course delivered across the state, and with expert marketing guidelines and the Virtual Evaluation Toolkit, both of which are posted to the Web.

Following a "Going Virtual" workshop, one participant e-mailed: "Your workshop was wonderful! I came thinking it [virtual reference] would never work for us and left knowing it can!"

Project activities and materials have received national recognition for excellence and have been widely shared with the library community. The VRS training program, “Anytime, Anywhere Answers,” is a model curriculum for user-based, blended learning offered to reference staff members of all educational and experience levels at any type of library. ALA Editions published a book about this program (written by the project coordinator and curriculum developer) in April 2004. Two additional workshops, Virtual Reference 101 and Going Virtual, introduce basic concepts and implementation information to libraries around the state. Links to both the training curriculum and workshop web sites are provided by the Digital Reference Education Initiative, WebJunction, and other organizations. The Virtual Evaluation Toolkit was posted online in August 2004; links to it have been made by several institutions and a program describing the manual and test site evaluation results was presented at the 2004 Virtual Reference Desk Conference. An article about Virtual Evaluation Toolkit activities will be published in The Reference Librarian in 2005. For more information, contact Buff Hirko.


The library media specialist profession in the state is one that will see massive retirements over the next decade. The Montana State University's library media program and the Wyoming State Library collaborated in an institute to bring individuals interested in school librarianship together for an introduction to the profession, the educational options in obtaining the necessary endorsement, the issues and challenges in the school environment, and the opportunities for influencing learning with state of the art resources. LSTA and funding from MSU will support a group of twenty to twenty-four people in opening the window to the profession and ways to become a great school librarian.

And elsewhereï¿Ã‚½

What’s happening with LSTA funding in your state? Visit the ASCLA Web site to see if your recent projects are included. If not, ask your State Librarian when they will be updated.