Table of Contents

  1. Library of Michigan Testimony at MIN Hearings
  2. Schatz Appointed New Head of MIN
  3. Library of Michigan To Survey Depository Libraries
  4. Michigan Senate Now on Web
  5. MGTV Coming Soon
  6. Legislative Service Bureau Upgrading Computer System


Summary : Testimony Transcript Stresses the Importance of Libraries As the Electronic Community Information Centers of the Future; the Importance of Libraries in Providing Access to Government Information; and the Importance of Libraries in Preserving Government Information.

Testimony by Jeffrey P. Johnson, Deputy State Librarian, and Bonnie A. Gasperini, Chair, Library of Michigan Board of Trustees, before the Michigan Information Network Advisory Board, October 31, 1995, East Lansing, Michigan

Jeffrey P. Johnson: Thank you for the opportunity to share with you today not only some of the accomplishments made by our state's libraries over the last several years, but also some of the challenges that are still ahead. We appreciate the Michigan Information Network (MIN) Advisory Board's willingness to hear from a broad spectrum of interests as you engage in the important work of making the MIN a reality. As you may know, Michigan's libraries have been working hard over the last several years to put in place a backbone of connectivity and we are well on our way to reaching the national goal of connecting all public libraries to the Internet by the year 2000.

Connectivity is not a goal in and of itself of course. We have also been engaged in building coalitions, learning new skills, redefining the services we provide and the ways in which we fund them. Our goal or vision has been articulated by the Library of Michigan since 1992, and is most simply stated as "the library of today is the electronic community information center of tomorrow".

This is a common vision, shared by most of the library community in the state. The Michigan Library Association, in its Action Plan for Michigan Libraries, stated: "As the country engages in a discussion of how to develop a ...national information superhighway it is hard to imagine a more accessible and available on ramp...than the public library." Hard indeed. Today public libraries serve 99.9% of our state's citizens -- only 7874 of our 9.2 million residents are today unserved by a public library. Compared to the rest of the country where 5%, or 12 million people are still unserved, Michigan's public libraries are indeed at the heart of nearly all of our local communities.

Our libraries serve all of our citizens equally. They have been relied upon by the state to ensure access to government information since the 1830's. In order to continue this tradition of service, let me briefly review for you some of the activities that have been taking place as libraries in our state begin to build our electronic community information centers.

You have heard, and will hear, throughout these hearings about the activities of libraries at local, regional and state levels. I will focus my remarks today on the accomplishments of libraries that have been assisted by the Library Services and Construction Act (LSCA), a federal grant program that brings about $4 million into our state annually.

Since 1992 the Library of Michigan has focused its LSCA competitive grant program on building the technology infrastructure within our libraries. $9.8 million has been directed to automating our public libraries and to introducing new technologies such as CD-ROM networking. In the last two years we have provided grants in excess of $3.8 million in direct support of projects connecting libraries to the Internet. While federal dollars will not meet all of our needs, the impact of this seed money has been important.

As we have learned over the years, the success of technology projects is critically dependent on one's ability to make effective use of these new tools. In 1995, as part of our comprehensive program in support of library technology, we introduced the Internet Training Center program. Seven of our fifteen public library cooperatives were awarded grants and have established a total of nine centers thus far. These centers are located throughout the state as you can see on the attached map. While all of the centers have achieved significant success in training library staff, trustees, the public and the education community, let me take a moment to cite one example.

As a result of our original $100,000 grant to the MidPeninsula Library Cooperative in Iron Mountain, the Cooperative was able to attract an additional grant from the Rural Datafication program through Merit. This synergistic combination of support, coupled with additional assistance from the local community has brought a MichNet dial access node, an Internet Training Center and a community networking initiative called Walden III to the Iron Mountain, Michigan area. Soon to be deployed will be a test of the delivery of electronic information via a kiosk offering direct public access beyond the walls of the sponsoring library.

In another example, the Library of Michigan, in 1993, funded four MichNet dial access nodes across the state. This was an important first step in a plan to assist libraries in assuming some of the burdens of building a strong dial access network in the state and it predated Merit's award from the Public Services Commission for expanded dial access. Three of these nodes, in Petoskey, Gaylord and Alpena, brought access to a part of the state where it had not previously been available.

The experience with the node project in Gaylord, at the Otsego County Library, is also an example of the many benefits of collaboration. With the new dial access node in place at the library, MSU was able to work with the library to upgrade the connection to a direct network connection and provide computer workstations that were beyond the abilities of the library's existing budget. Thus the library today provides access to MSU students previously unserved in that part of the state.

These are just two of many examples with a common theme -- which is that libraries, while needing help to afford initial connectivity, are able to build on investments made in them. Our libraries are combining grant support with resource reallocation and additional community support with positive results, but they cannot do it alone. The Library of Michigan continues to look for new ways to assist libraries in meeting three major goals: connectivity; creating electronic community information centers with equity of access for all; and assuring public access to government information. Bonnie Gasperini, chair of the Library of Michigan's Board of Trustees, will now discuss the later two goals.

Bonnie Gasperini: Our time with you today does not allow us to review all of the programs put in place by the Library of Michigan, or by our libraries across the state. But I would like to spend a few moments reviewing why the Library of Michigan Board of Trustees believes assuring public access is so important to your plans for the MIN. In the Governor's report on the MIN, he stated that the "MIN will be a tool for all citizens. It is bound only by the limitations individuals place on it themselves..." We agree that this is quite true and is the ideal we must all seek. We are concerned, as libraries traditionally have been, about those in the state that, whether because of educational, economic, or physical barriers, will not be able to access the MIN. We were pleased to see the Governor's report include our public libraries throughout its recommendations because we know that through our public libraries the MIN can provide true equity of access to all electronic information -- as we have done for so long with information in print and other media.

We believe this advisory board should do everything possible to underscore the importance of providing MIN access to all residents of the state. We also believe that our public libraries are an important mechanism with a rich potential for doing so. As Jeff mentioned -- 99.9% of Michigan residents are served by public libraries. In looking for ways to ensure that the rich resources of the MIN are available to all, what better way to do so then to ensure our 382 public libraries and their branches are connected. And that library staff are trained and able to assist them whether they seek to use the MIN to look for employment information across the state, to do class assignments when schools are closed, to plan vacations or to investigate the economic feasibility of a small business franchise in northern Michigan. By ensuring access to the MIN through our public libraries the state will ensure access for all of its citizens. Libraries in our state have already accomplished a great deal in achieving these objectives, but we will need some help in completing this important work. The costs are steep but this is an investment we must make in our libraries. Libraries across the state have already begun to do just that.

We look forward for an opportunity to work with you to ensure all of our citizens enjoy the full promise of the MIN -- whether from home, school, work or through their public library. We believe we owe our citizens nothing less.


And now in my remaining moments let me address one other area of major concern to librarians: access to government information. Access to the most current government information has been a traditional strength of Michigan's public and academic libraries. Despite enormous storage requirements and amidst formidable access challenges our libraries have ensured, for more than 160 years, our residents a basic tenet of democracy -- information about the public policy of our government. This access has informed and enlightened generations -- from the small business owner researching the economic climate in a potential market, to the scientist relying on the work of the US Geological Survey, our citizens benefit every day from the government document collections housed by many libraries across the state.

With the Michigan Information Network, the citizens of this state have an opportunity unlike any before to access information directly from their home, school or business. Electronic access to government information must be a priority of the Michigan Information Network. Without a commitment to such access we forfeit a unique opportunity to inform and educate our citizens. Such a forfeit would be an unconscionable breach of the public's trust.

The Library of Michigan Board of Trustees encourages the MIN Advisory Board to actively support the right of all Michigan's citizens to have equitable and affordable access to the vast resources of the network.

Unfortunately not all our citizens will be able to access these vital resources from their homes or businesses. Many of us will be without the economic resources necessary to access the MIN, or without the educational resources necessary to develop the skills to navigate complex webs of government information. It will continue to be the responsibility of our state's academic and public libraries to ensure that all the citizens of Michigan have access to its wealth of government information. The Library of Michigan Board encourages the MIN Advisory Board to recognize and support the vital role that libraries will play in achieving equity of access to all the network's resources. We encourage the necessary revisions to state law (such as the Library of Michigan Act PA 540 of 1982) to underscore the importance of the Michigan Document Depository program in realizing the potential of the Michigan Information Network.

Revisions to applicable state law should also recognize the need for all information provided by the state, whether it is in paper or digital format, to be archived and maintained for future use by our citizens and our scholars. The state should provide that any plan for ensuring access to these resources is not offered in a transient or temporary manner. Access that is here today and gone tomorrow is little better than no access at all. Once again, our state's libraries have a long history of maintaining the documents of our government for public use. The Library of Michigan Board encourages the MIN Advisory Board to work closely with the libraries in our state to guarantee that networked information provided by the state is stored in a retrievable and secure manner so that all may access it whenever it is needed.

We thank you for the opportunity to share with you some of what libraries have done in preparation for the MIN and what we hope that we can all accomplish together. I can assure you Michigan's library community stands ready to assist in whatever way we can.

Special thanks to Richard Hathaway and Jim Wiljanen for sharing this information via MICHLIB-L and MINFORUM on November 9, 1995.

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Department of Management and Budget Director Mark Murray today announced the arrival of Linda S. Schatz as Director of the office of the Michigan Information Network (MIN). The MIN, unveiled by Governor Engler last June, is a strategy to link public schools, community colleges, universities and libraries to the "information superhighway," creating a statewide interactive video and data access and exchange system.

"Linda's plethora of experience in educational telecommunications will greatly benefit Michigan citizens," said John Kost, Chief Information Officer for the state. "We are fortunate to have someone come to Michigan with talents so precisely matched to what we want to accomplish with the MIN and help us achieve that goal."

Among other duties, Schatz will work with Michigan businesses to advocate distance learning and the use of technology in schools, homes, work places, libraries, government and health care facilities.

Formerly of Des Moines, Iowa, Schatz's previous experience includes consulting on educational telecommunications and being director of educational telecommunications for Iowa Public Television.

In Iowa, Schatz helped develop a statewide telecommunications network, using fiber optic technology, utilized by 103 institutions statewide including the state's community colleges, public and private four-year institutions, K-12 schools and Iowa Public Television. She also established a statewide advisory committee to ensure that the network would meet the needs of the state's educational institutions. Schatz also provided key telecommunications consulting services to colleges, universities and K-12 schools in nine states nationwide.

For more information, contact Maureen McNulty, (517) 373-1004.

Source:Department of Management and Budget News Release, November 28, 1995; Lansing State Journal, November 29, 1995; Jim Wiljanen, (wiljanen@MDENET.MDE.STATE.MI.US), MINFORUM, December 1, 1995.

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Governor Engler's Executive Order 1995-14 has established the Michigan Information Network, the "link to the 'information superhighway' for the people of Michigan. It is a virtual network developed through a collaborative share voice, video and data for the public[ing] for making more state government easily available to the public." The Michigan Information Network Plan refers supportively to the long tradition of insuring access to state government information through the Michigan Documents Depository program and recommends that electronic materials included in the MIN should be "collected and maintained, in electronic format, by the Library of Michigan and the libraries participating in the Michigan Documents Depository Program."

MIN is one of several reasons why the Library of Michigan feels a need for increased communication with Michigan Documents Depository Libraries. To that end, a survey is being distributed to libraries in January, 1996. It is VERY important that libraries take the few minutes necessary to respond. We need an accurate snapshot of Michigan Documents collections and the technological capabilities of the depositories. Please watch your mail for the survey and return it to the Library of Michigan by January 17, 1996.

Source: Ann Marie Sanders, Library of Michigan, December 7, 1995.

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The Michigan Senate now has a home page on the world wide web. Interesting features include :

The Directories all provide address information, including e-mail and fax addresses when available, plus committee assignments. The Senate Republican and Democratic Caucus sites show potential for reporting updates on Senate business and concerns from a partisan viewpoint. The Senate Fiscal Agency Home Page actually lists Special and Recurring Reports which can be requested by e-mail or by calling. My only hope is that they will someday load such reports for direct access.

For those of you who do not have access to the world wide web, Debbie Gallagher of the MLink Project has compiled a list of Senators with e-mail addresses as of December 21, 1995:

She reports that such information will be added to the Michigan Electronic Library in the near future. There is already a pointer there for the Michigan Senate under the Government and Politics section.

Source : Deborah A Gallagher, MLink, University of Michigan, 117D Hatcher North, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1205; Telephone : 313-764-4108; Fax: 313-764-3916; E-mail:; MICHLIB-L, December 22, 1995.

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Starting as early as February, MGTV plans to broadcast House and Senate sessions, key commission meetings, gubernatorial speeches and press conferences, Supreme Court arguments, and other Michigan government proceedings.

"If you like C-SPAN, you'll love MGTV", said Craig Ruff, president of Public Sector Consultants and spokesman for MGTV.

The first thing to air is expected to be House sessions, which will be shown in the Lansing area, with the Senate added later. In 1997, the program is expected to include other events and to spread statewide. The program would be owned and operated by seven leading cable TV companies, which are setting up a nonprofit corporation. State involvement would be limited to equipment and a handful of technicians.

Source: Detroit Free Press, December 25, 1995, p.5A.

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The Legislative Service Bureau is buying a new computer system that will eventually mean greater public access to legislative services.

The $5.7 million system is designed to better integrate legislative functions of the Senate, House, fiscal agencies, and the Legislative Service Bureau.

The new system is scheduled to be online in January 1997. It will allow the public access to such things as current versions of bills, bill analyses, House and Senate journals, and the state's compiled laws.

Source: Lansing State Journal, October 30, 1995, p.1B.

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