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Education Statistics Quarterly
Vol 2, Issue 4, Topic: Public, State, and Federal Libraries
State Library Agencies: Fiscal Year 1999
By: P. Elaine Kroe
This article was originally published as the Introduction and Highlights of the E.D. Tabs report of the same name. The universe data are from the State Library Agencies (StLA) Survey.


This report contains data on state library agencies in the 50 states and the District of Columbia for state fiscal year (FY) 1999. The data were collected through the State Library Agencies (StLA) Survey, the product of a cooperative effort between the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA), the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS), the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), and the U.S. Census Bureau. The FY 99 StLA Survey is the sixth in the series.


A state library agency is the official agency of a state that is charged by state law with the extension and development of public library services throughout the state and that has adequate authority under state law to administer state plans in accordance with the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) (P.L. 104-208). Beyond these two roles, state library agencies vary greatly. They are located in various departments of state government and report to different authorities. They are involved in various ways in the development and operation of electronic information networks. They provide different types of services to different types of libraries.

State library agencies are increasingly receiving broader legislative mandates affecting libraries of all types in the states (i.e., public, academic, school, special, and library systems). State library agencies provide important reference and information services to state governments and administer the state libraries and special operations, such as state archives, libraries for the blind and physically handicapped, and the State Center for the Book.1 The state library agency may also function as the state's public library at large, providing library services to the general public. This report provides information on the range of roles played by state library agencies and the various combinations of fiscal, human, and informational resources invested in such work.

Purpose of survey

The purpose of the StLA Survey is to provide state and federal policymakers, researchers, and other interested users with descriptive information about state library agencies. The data collected are useful to (1) chief officers of state library agencies, (2) policymakers in the executive and legislative branches of federal and state governments, (3) government and library administrators at federal, state, and local levels, (4) the American Library Association and its members or customers, and (5) library and public policy researchers. The survey asks each state library agency about the kinds of services it provides, its staffing practices, its collections, income and expenditures, and more. Decision-makers use this NCES survey to obtain information about services and fiscal practices.

The StLA Survey collects data on state library agency services and financial assistance to public, academic, and school libraries, and to library systems. When added to the data collected through the NCES surveys of public, academic, and school libraries, and library cooperatives, these data help complete the national picture of library service.

Congressional authorization

The StLA Survey is conducted in compliance with the NCES mission "to collect, analyze, and disseminate statistics and other information related to education in the United States and in other nations, including . . . the learning and teaching environment, including data on libraries . . ." (P.L. 103-382, Title IV, National Education Statistics Act of 1994, Sec. 404 [a]).

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Nearly all state library agencies (47 states and the District of Columbia) are located in the executive branch of government. Of these, almost two-thirds are part of a larger agency, most commonly the state department of education. In three states (Arizona, Michigan, and Tennessee), the agency is located in the legislative branch.

Allied and other special operations

A total of 14 state library agencies reported having one or more allied operations. Allied operations most frequently linked with a state library agency are the state archives (10 states) and the state records management service (10 states). Sixteen state library agencies contract with public or academic libraries in their states to serve as resource or reference/information service centers. Eighteen state library agencies host or provide funding for a State Center for the Book.

Electronic services and information

Internet access. All state library agencies facilitate library access to the Internet in one or more of the following ways: training or consulting library staff in the use of the Internet; providing a subsidy for Internet participation; providing equipment to access the Internet; providing access to directories, databases, or online catalogs; and managing gopher/Web sites, file servers, bulletin boards, or listservs. Forty-eight state library agencies have Internet workstations available for public use, ranging in number from 2 to 4 (22 states); 5 to 9 (13 states); 10 to 19 (5 states); 20 to 29 (5 states); and 30 or more (3 states). Louisiana reported the largest number of public-use Internet terminals (49). Thirty-six state library agencies were applicants to the Universal Service (E-rate discount) Program established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-104).2

Electronic networks, databases, and catalogs. State library agencies in 49 states and the District of Columbia plan or monitor electronic network development; 45 of these agencies operate electronic networks and 46 of these agencies develop network content (i.e., database development).3 Forty-seven state library agencies provide or facilitate library access to online databases through subscription, lease, license, consortial membership, or agreement. Forty-seven state library agencies reported combined expenditures of over $25.4 million for statewide database licensing. Of these, Michigan had the highest expenditure ($3.1 million) and Louisiana the lowest ($6,000). Over two-thirds of the state library agencies reporting such expenditures provided statewide database licensing services to public, academic, school, and special libraries, and to library cooperatives, with public libraries served most frequently (47 states). Other state agencies and remote users were also served by over two-thirds of the state library agencies reporting such expenditures. Almost all state library agencies facilitate or subsidize electronic access to the holdings of other libraries in their state, most frequently through Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) participation (41 states and the District of Columbia). Over half provide access via a Web-based union catalog (30 states) or Telnet gateway (28 states).

Library development services

Services to public libraries. Every state library agency provides the following types of services to public libraries: administration of Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grants, collection of library statistics, continuing education programs, and library planning, evaluation, and research. Nearly every state library agency provides consulting services, library legislation preparation or review, and review of technology plans for the Universal Service (E-rate discount) Program. Services to public libraries provided by at least three-quarters of state library agencies include administration of state aid, interlibrary loan referral services, literacy program support, reference referral services, state standards or guidelines, statewide public relations or library promotion campaigns, and summer reading program support. At least three-fifths of state library agencies provide OCLC Group Access Capability (GAC) and union list development. Less common services to public libraries include accreditation of libraries, certification of librarians, cooperative purchasing of library materials, preservation/conservation services, and retrospective conversion of bibliographic records.

Services to academic libraries. At least two-thirds of state library agencies provide the following services to the academic library sector: administration of LSTA grants, continuing education, interlibrary loan referral services, and reference referral services. Less common services to academic libraries include cooperative purchasing of library materials, literacy program support, preservation/conservation, retrospective conversion, and state standards or guidelines. No state library agency accredits academic libraries; only Washington State certifies academic librarians.

Services to school library media centers. At least two-thirds of state library agencies provide the following services to school library media centers (LMCs): administration of LSTA grants, continuing education, interlibrary loan referral services, and reference referral services. Over half of all state library agencies provide consulting services to LMCs. Less common services to LMCs include administration of state aid, cooperative purchasing of library materials, preservation/conservation, retrospective conversion, state standards or guidelines, and Universal Service (E-rate discount) Program review. No state library agency accredits LMCs or certifies LMC librarians.

Services to special libraries. Over two-thirds of state library agencies serve special libraries4 through administration of LSTA grants, consulting services, continuing education, interlibrary loan referral, and reference referral. Less common services to special libraries include administration of state aid, cooperative purchasing of library materials, state standards or guidelines, and summer reading program support. Only Nebraska accredits special libraries and only Indiana, Nebraska, and Washington State certify librarians of special libraries.

Services to systems. At least three-fifths of state library agencies serve library systems5 through administration of LSTA grants, consulting services, continuing education, interlibrary loan referral, library legislation preparation or review, and library planning, evaluation, and research. Accreditation of library systems is provided by only six states, and certification of systems librarians by only five states.

Service outlets

State library agencies across the United States reported a total of 128 service outlets-54 main or central outlets, 65 other outlets (excluding bookmobiles), and 9 bookmobiles. Outlets serving the general public or state government employees were open an average of 34 hours per week.


The number of books and serial volumes held by state library agencies totaled 22.2 million, with New York accounting for the largest collection (2.4 million). Six state library agencies had book and serial volumes of over one million. In other states, collections ranged from 500,000 to one million (10 states); 200,000 to 499,999 (13 states); 100,000 to 199,999 (7 states); 50,000 to 99,999 (6 states); and under 50,000 (7 states). The state library agency in Maryland does not maintain a collection, and the District of Columbia does not maintain a collection in its function as a state library agency.6

The number of serial subscriptions held by state library agencies totaled over 100,000,7 with New York, California, and Indiana holding the largest number (about 11,000 each). Six state library agencies reported serial subscriptions of over 5,000. In other states, these collections ranged from 2,000 to 4,999 (5 states); 1,000 to 1,999 (11 states); 500 to 999 (13 states); 100 to 499 (11 states); and under 100 (3 states). The state library agencies in Maryland and the District of Columbia do not maintain collections.


The total number of budgeted full-time equivalent (FTE) positions in state library agencies was 3,848. Librarians with American Library Association-Master of Library Science (ALA-MLS) degrees accounted for 1,209 of these positions, or 31.4 percent of total FTE positions. Rhode Island reported the largest percentage (55.0 percent) of ALA-MLS librarians, and Virginia reported the smallest (12.7 percent).


State library agencies reported a total income of $949.0 million in FY 99 (83.7 percent from state sources, 14.5 percent from federal sources, and 1.8 percent from other sources).8 State library agency income from state sources totaled $794.3 million, with 69.4 percent ($551 million) designated for state aid to libraries. In 11 states, over 75 percent was designated for state aid to libraries, with Massachusetts having the largest percentage (96.2 percent). Seven states (Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming) and the District of Columbia targeted no state funds for aid to libraries.9 Federal income totaled $137.5 million, with 87.1 percent from the LSTA.


State library agencies reported total expenditures of $949.6 million in FY 99. The largest percentage (83.6 percent) was from state funds, followed by federal funds (14.8 percent), and other funds (1.7 percent).

In five states, over 90 percent of total expenditures were from state sources. These states were Massachusetts(94.0 percent), Maryland (92.5 percent), New York (92.3 percent), Pennsylvania (90.7 percent), and Georgia (90.4 percent). The District of Columbia had the smallest percentage of expenditures from state sources (49.4 percent), followed by Utah (57.8 percent).

Financial assistance to libraries accounted for 68.2 percent of total expenditures of state library agencies, with the largest percentages expended on individual public libraries (43.5 percent) and public library systems (23.6 percent). Most of the expenditures for financial assistance to libraries were from state sources (87.0 percent), with 12.7 percent from federal sources.

Thirteen state library agencies reported expenditures for allied operations. These expenditures totaled almost $25.0 million and accounted for 2.6 percent of total expenditures. Of states reporting such expenditures, Virginia had the highest expenditure ($7.4 million) and Kansas the lowest ($146,000).10

Thirty-one state library agencies had a total of $20.6 million in grants and contracts expenditures to assist public libraries with state education reform initiatives or the National Education Goals. The area of lifelong learning accounted for the largest proportion of such expenditures (48.5 percent), followed by the areas of adult literacy (31.7 percent) and readiness for school (19.8 percent). Expenditures were focused exclusively on readiness for school projects in three states (Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Vermont); on adult literacy in two states (New Jersey and Oklahoma); and on lifelong learning in two states (Alabama and Ohio).


1 The State Center for the Book, which is part of the Center for the Book program sponsored by the Library of Congress, promotes books, reading, and literacy, and is hosted or funded by the state.

2 Under this program, the FCC promotes affordable access to the Internet and the availability of Internet services to the public, with special attention given to schools and libraries.

3 Network content refers to database development. Database development activities may include the creation of new databases or the conversion of existing databases into electronic format. These activities may involve bibliographic databases as well as full text or data files.

4 A special library is a library in a business firm, professional association, government agency, or other organized group; a library that is maintained by a parent organization to serve a specialized clientele; or an independent library that may provide materials or services, or both, to the public, a segment of the public, or other libraries. The scope of collections and services is limited to the subject interests of the host or parent institution. Special libraries include libraries in state institutions.

5 A system is a group of autonomous libraries joined together by formal or informal agreements to perform various services cooperatively, such as resource sharing or communications. Systems include multitype library systems and public library systems, but not multiple outlets under the same administration.

6 In Maryland, Enoch Pratt Central, the central library of the Enoch Pratt Free Library is designated by state law as the State Library Resource Center. In the District of Columbia, the Martin Luther King Memorial Library, the central library of the District of Columbia Public Library, functions as a resource center for the municipal government.

7 The total number of serial titles is counted, including duplicates.

8 Federal income includes State Program income under the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) (P.L. 104-208), income from Titles I to III of the Library Services and Construction Act (LSCA) (P.L. 101-254), and other federal income. Note: LSCA was superseded by LSTA, but some LSCA funds are still unspent.

9 The District of Columbia Public Library functions as a state library agency and is eligible for federal LSTA funds in this capacity. The state library agency in Hawaii is associated with the Hawaii State Public Library System and operates all public libraries within its jurisdiction. The state funds for aid to libraries for these two agencies are reported on the NCES Public Libraries Survey, rather than on the StLA survey, because of the unique situation of these two state agencies, and in order to eliminate duplicative reporting of these data.

10 Although Alaska reported allied operations, the expenditures were not from the state library agency budget.

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Data source: NCES State Library Agencies (StLA) Survey, Fiscal Year 1999.

For technical information, see the complete report:

Kroe, P. E. (2000). State Library Agencies: Fiscal Year 1999 (NCES 2000-374).

Author affiliation: P.E. Kroe, NCES.

For questions about content, contact P. Elaine Kroe (

To obtain the complete report (NCES 2000-374), visit the NCES Web Site (

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