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New federal funding program spurred investment in the nation’s libraries according to a Syracuse University study
New federal funding program spurred investment in the nation’s libraries according to a Syracuse University studyJuly 08, 2002Judy Holmesjlholmes@syr.edu
The nation’s public, school, academic, research and special libraries enjoyed increased access to funding and technology as a result of a 1996 federal program designed to provide more money for library programs, according to a recent study released by the National Commission on Libraries and Information Studies (NCLIS).
“The 1996 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) worked,” says Bruce Kingma, associate dean for academic affairs in Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies, who completed the study for the NCLIS. “LSTA funding not only increased the amount of federal dollars that were available for library services but generated a significant increase in state, local and other non-federal support to state libraries.”
A complete copy of the report, “The Impact of Federal Funding on State Library Agencies: The LSCA to LSTA Transition,” will be published on the NCLIS Web site (www.nclis.gov) July 15.
According to the study, the LSTA generated an average of 17 percent in new funding for libraries from state and non-governmental sources during the budget years that were analyzed. The increases held even when the figures were adjusted to account for a strong economy and a general increase in funding for higher education during the late 1990s.
“The legislation worked, and it worked well,” Kingma says. “This is one of the few studies of federal spending that have demonstrated that more federal funding led to an increase in revenue from other sources. That’s not the way it usually works. Typically, an increase in federal spending causes other funding to decrease.”
The LSTA replaced a 1964 federal library program-the Library Services and Construction Act (LSCA)-that was designed to improve library services and promote construction of public libraries. LSTA provided states with more flexibility in how federal library funding could be applied and marked a shift in focus from construction and consolidation of public libraries and public library services to the incorporation of technology to link networks of libraries, services and resources. The networks include public, school, academic, research and special libraries and archives.
“The new act opened up the funding system beyond the public libraries,” Kingma says. “The law requires that every two dollars in LSTA funding be matched by one dollar of state funding. The study was designed to determine the economic impact of the LSTA, how the money was applied and to what extent the state libraries shared the wealth with local libraries.”
Kingma and his research associates, Joseph F. Shubert, New York State Librarian Emeritus, and Amanda Yeoh, an information management graduate student in SU’s School of Information Studies, compared the first three years of LSTA funding (fiscal years 1998 to 2000) with the last three years of funding under the old system (fiscal years 1995 to 1997) using data collected by the National Commission on Education Statistics in its annual NCES Survey of State Library Agencies.
“The study shows that state funding for financial assistance to libraries in the three LSTA years outpaced the growth of federal funds,” Shubert says. “The increased funding resulted in wider participation in the programs by libraries that traditionally were left out of the process. Many such programs now provide library users access to vast databases that are too expensive for some libraries to acquire independently.
Major findings include:
? state library agencies across the country received an average of 27 percent more federal dollars under the LSTA than in the previous three years;
? despite the increased amount of total federal dollars, the federal share of the state library income declined slightly from 16.3 percent to 13.7 percent while the state share rose from 82.1 percent to 84.6 percent;
? funding for statewide services and financial assistance to libraries by state library agencies increased by a greater proportion than federal funding increases;
? funding increased for a broader spectrum of libraries ( e.g. academic and school libraries) under LSTA; and
? funding from non-government sources increased under LSTA..
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