The following is a text-only press release from the federal Institute of
Museum and Library Services (IMLS). An HTML version of this release can
be read on the agency's Web site at

March 18, 2010

IMLS Press Contacts 

Jeannine Mjoseth, [log in to unmask]
Mamie Bittner, [log in to unmask]

Despite Flat Budgets, State Library Agencies Invest in Technology

Washington, DC-Despite the lack of real growth in their budgets in
recent years, state library agencies are working strategically to assist
library professionals and local libraries to meet patrons' needs,
according to State Library Agency Service Trends: 1999-2008, a new
research brief by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Limited resources are being
shifted as libraries services are being redefined. Over the past 10
years, for example, real dollar expenditures on statewide database
licensing more than doubled, reaching a total of $65.8 million in 2008.
These databases provide all library users access to a wide range of
online resources, such as reference sources for homework, job search and
training tools, and specialized magazines and newspapers. This finding
indicates one way that state library agencies are making the most of
limited resources. 

Library services for hard-to-reach populations, such as services for
people in nursing homes, individuals with physical or learning
disabilities, assistive technologies and devices, and non-English
speakers and migrant workers, declined from a high of $57 million in
2004 to $31.6 million in 2008, according to the study. While changing
definitions and survey changes may have affected reporting in this area,
this important finding may be a harbinger of difficult times ahead. An
upcoming study, Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits
from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries, demonstrates that vulnerable
populations rely on libraries for Internet access. Among young adults
(14-24 years of age) living in households below the federal poverty
line, 61 percent used public library computers and Internet for
educational purposes. Among seniors (65 and over) living in poverty, 54
percent used public library computers for health or wellness needs. The
study, scheduled for release on March 25, was conducted by the
University of Washington with support from IMLS and the Bill & Melinda
Gates Foundation. 

IMLS allocates federal funds to state library agencies using a
population-based forumula. State library agencies develop plans for the
delivery of library services in their states and provide leadership and
library development. While there is tremendous variation among state
library agencies, this research brief aggregates data in order to
characterize trends in services supported by state library agencies. The
study examines services such as basic literacy programs, library
services for hard-to-reach populations, and state database licenses for
public libraries, public school media centers, and library cooperatives.

Funding for state library agencies, which includes a mix of federal,
state, and other sources, remained flat from fiscal year (FY) 2004 to FY
2008. The current economic downturn will likely decrease agency budgets
and could affect the quality and quantity of state library agency
services in the future, according to the brief.

Twenty-first century patrons expect more technology resources in
schools, public libraries, colleges, and universities. While current and
future information technologies provide exciting new opportunities to
extend library services to patrons across the U.S., they require
significant investment and coordination, the study found. 

IMLS will continue to document the trends highlighted in this report to
better understand how changes at the state level affect the quality of
library services to the public.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services 
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of
federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums.
The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that
connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the
national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to
sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and
innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about
the Institute, please visit