From the Director...
"LSTA Helps Libraries Become Web-Wise"
The Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) is best known for providing federal funding to state library agencies to support statewide programs and library grant projects. However, the LSTA also sets aside funds, administered at the national level by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, for competitive grants. Since 1998, the Institute of Museum and Library Services has provided grants to state library agencies and individual libraries for research, digitization, and management of digital resources.
I did not fully appreciate the value of the national leadership grants program until I attended a recent conference titled, Web-Wise: A Conference on Libraries and Museums in the Digital World, sponsored by The Institute of Museum and Library Services and the University of Missouri Columbia. The Web-Wise conference included a diverse group of presenters and participants. Many of the presenters were affiliated with projects funded through the LSTA national grants program. The focus of the presentations was the creation of digital libraries. I'm not sure I left the conference "Web-wise" but I did gain a greater appreciation for the possibilities and potential of digital libraries.
Digital projects like the State of Washington's Find-It and the Colorado Digitization Project were especially interesting. Presentations demonstrated focused approaches to providing online access to database records, images, audio, video, and hypermedia from archival, library, and museum collections. A University of Maryland project developing graphical interfaces to enhance children's use of digital libraries is equally interesting. These projects offer examples of best practices and illustrate the progress toward development of standards for identifying, describing, and finding Web-accessible resources. The Web-Wise conference discussed new partnerships among libraries, museums, archives, and other organizations. The conference also addressed standards for description of Web-accessible resources. The challenges of developing standards in the library community are well known, but the challenge of developing standards in projects that involve the very different cultures of the museum, archival, and arts communities is a whole new puzzle. Each of these communities has long established approaches to classifying and describing items. Even so, progress is being made.
There is need for (as well as opportunity and interest in) digital library projects. Web technology has long passed the point of being a novelty. It is now at the center of educational, business, and government functions. A purpose of the LSTA national grants is to fund new and innovative approaches to library services. The projects presented at the Web-Wise conference offer new knowledge and experience in developing Web-based services. The potential for digital libraries is without limit. The challenge will be to create digital libraries that are focused, useful, creative, easy to use, and compelling.
Special Report . . .
Residency Requirement Explored
very once in a while the following question (or variation thereof) is posed to us at the Nebraska Library Commission, "Must public library board members reside in the community where the library is located?" Surprisingly, state statutes related to libraries do not directly address this question, making it difficult to answer simply. But the library laws appear to imply an answer. This implication, taken in conjunction with other state statutes not directly related to libraries, does provide an answer to the question. Review of library-related statutes, statutes relating to other government entities, and election laws helps to arrive at an answer to this complicated question. The conclusions reached, in consultation with Gary Krumland, attorney for the League of Nebraska Municipalities, are:
Municipal libraries are clearly designed for people who live within the city, town, or village.
State statutes require residency for members of the various elected boards and district bodies. Since there is a provision in state law to elect library board members for library governing boards, it is unlikely that this process and these boards would follow different standards.
Representation from outside the library district would only appear to be allowed in the case of some formal, legal arrangement extending service beyond the original district. Such representation would need to be spelled out in the written agreement between the affected bodies.
The preponderance of state law appears to indicate that board members should be residents of the library district that the board governs, despite the lack of a specific statement to that effect in library statutes. Short of a court test of the above, these are our best conclusions, based on what is currently known. For more information on how these conclusions were drawn, see the Library Commission home page at nlc.nebraska.gov, search on Residency Requirement.