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2009 Annual Report
The Montana State Library’s Digital Library Division joins the resources of three statutory programs, including the Natural Resource Information System (NRIS), the Montana Natural Heritage Program (MTNHP), and Library Information Services (LIS). These programs work together to provide Montanans with access to the very best digital resources with our collections focusing on information related to state government information and Montana natural resource data.
The Montana State Digital Library is a professionally catalogued, maintained, and supported collection of state documents, Montana-related federal documents, reference materials and appropriate state agency data brokered by highly-trained information science specialists. Digital library staff continually works on employing new methods of integrating and displaying data so that the user can easily discover data of interest, visualize the data in context with related data, and obtain the data in customized formats for the task at hand.
The Montana Natural Resource Information System (NRIS) serves as a central clearinghouse for access to Geographic Information System (GIS) data about Montana and as a key resource for state and federal agencies’ natural resource data distribution strategies. A couple of highlights from the Natural Resource Information System’s Fiscal Year 2009 include:
- In September 2008, NRIS staff announced the availability of the Montana GIS Portal. Similar to the familiar online library catalogs that are now prevalent in libraries, the GIS Portal is a searchable metadata repository for GIS data available from Montana organizations. The initial release of the Portal contains records of the data collections of NRIS, the Montana Base Map Service Center, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP), and the Flathead County GIS department. These records represent 400 databases.
- NRIS also received a Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award at the 2009 ESRI International User Conference in San Diego, California. The Award recognized the development of the GIS Portal. NRIS was selected from more than 300,000 organizations worldwide to receive the award, which recognizes extraordinary contributions to our global society through GIS technology.
The Montana Natural Heritage Program (MTNHP) continues to provide outstanding service through its expert staff and state-of-the-art Web resources. The Heritage Program’s vast knowledge base of Montana’s animals, plants, and habitats is used daily by land and resource managers, Montana businesses, educators, students, and outdoor enthusiasts. A couple of highlights from the Natural Heritage Program’s Fiscal Year 2009 include:
- An online species of concern report was created to replace hard copy versions
and allow status ranks to be updated in a more dynamic manner as new information
becomes available. The new reports provide: all of the narrative information
found in the printed reports; up-to-date status information for species
of concern; lists of species additions and deletions over time; enhanced
search and filtering functions for generating custom reports; ability to
save and print reports to a PDF; and information such as documented county
occurrences, habitat associations for animals, and other state and federal
- The Montana
Field Guide, a collaborative application with Montana FWP,
was updated to include such features as: maps that depict distribution
of breeding, overwintering, and migratory records for birds; maps of the
breeding, wintering, and migratory range across the western hemisphere
for most vertebrate animal species; and an advanced search option that
allows queries for various federal and state status ranks.
- The Natural Heritage Tracker application was updated to include such features as: faster report and query functions that are more task-oriented; observation data for plants; and range maps and structured survey data for selected species of animals.
The Library Information Services (LIS) program develops and manages the State Library’s collections. LIS works closely with state agencies to identify, acquire, catalog, preserve, and provide permanent public access to state government information. A few highlights from Library Information Services’ Fiscal Year 2009 include:
- LIS completed the first year of a multi-year project to digitize and place
online its entire legacy print collection dating from 1874. A total of 8,058
print state publications were digitized representing nearly 623,717 pages.
These pages are now viewable online for the first time ever.
- LIS refined the collection development policy governing our federal document collection so that it focused exclusively on natural resource information about Montana. A color coding system was implemented to improve browseability. Four major series of Interior Department publications were marked to readily identify for users all documents with “Montana” in the title. Tattered bindings were rebound. Missing items were replaced. Whenever possible, access was provided to digital documents. Nearly 3,000 print items were recently acquired to complete several different U.S. Geological Survey series making these series more valuable to researchers. Most notable, while every federal publication has always been classified and labeled, soon every item will also be part of the online catalog. The sum effect of these developments is improved access to natural resource information at the State Library.
Statewide Library Resources (SLR) are at the heart of excellent library services across Montana. SLR staff provides leadership and guidance related to library programs, services, and facilities. A professional staff plans, develops, and implements programs and administers funds for new and improved library services throughout the state. SLR works as a partner with Montana libraries to ensure that Montana library users get the best materials and services available.
By focusing efforts in the above areas of concentration, SLR staff help libraries
plan and develop quality local services and stellar collections that result
in Montana libraries becoming vital components in their local communities.
Statewide Library Services include the Library Development Division (LDD),
the Montana Shared Catalog (MSC), the Montana
Talking Book Library (MTBL),
and statewide projects. A few highlights from the Statewide Library Resources’ Fiscal
Year 2009 include:
- Twenty-two libraries joined the Montana
Library2Go consortium. Additional phases
continue to be added quarterly. The collection increased to 2,438 audiobook
titles. Currently, 42 libraries participate in this consortium. Library patrons
from around the state have raved about this new service.
- The Montana
Memory Project is an online source for digital collections
relating to Montana’s cultural heritage. In part, these collections
document the Montana experience. Access is free and open through the Internet.
Over time, contents will include digital newspapers, maps, copies of photographs,
rare books, historic documents, diaries, oral histories, audio and video
clips, paintings, illustrations and art. Montana libraries, museums, archives,
and cultural institutions continued to add unique collections of digitized
materials throughout the year.
- The Montana State Library’s consultants travel throughout Montana and
meet one-on-one with librarians and library trustees across the state, assisting
with everything from training and technology to applying Montana library law
and fundraising. In the last fiscal year, MSL’s consultants traveled
over 60,000 miles, made over 2,000 contacts and completed over 400 visits with
Montana’s library community.
- All Montana public libraries were able to offer the leading genealogy search
tool, HeritageQuest Online, to their patrons, based on local contributions
from public libraries across the state and funding from MSL. Use of this genealogy
research tool by local patrons grew quickly: large public libraries showed
over 230,000 searches during FY2009, medium public libraries averaged 4000
to 5000 searches and small public libraries generally showed between 100-600
searches over the year.
- The Montana
Shared Catalog (MSC) added nine new libraries this year. New
members include the largest public library in the state, Parmly Bilings
Library, as well as nine additional libraries that represent Montana’s
public, school, and special libraries from throughout the state. The
additions of their collections to the catalog, which included over 350,000
items, greatly increased the number of items available to Montana Shared
Catalog library patrons.
- AskMontana answered 3,214 questions from library users across the state
last year, an eight percent increase in use from the previous year. This
online, 24-hour/7-days-a-week reference service provides Montanans the opportunity
to access a librarian’s help anytime of the day or night on any day of
the week, regardless of their own library’s hours or participation
in the program.
- The Ready 2
Read program was launched with the goal of increasing the understanding
among parents and caregivers of children from birth – age five that sharing
books and language with their children is vital to the child’s development.
The first phase of this multi-year program included the development and launch
of a new Web site and a series of brochures for parents and caregivers as
well as several partnerships with organizations that could help us make contact
with this population, such as WIC and local county health offices.
- MTBL began receiving digital cartridge books in 2009. Half of all titles produced
by the National Library Service are in digital cartridge format; the other
half are still in recorded cassette. An initial digital book bibliography was
started to assist patrons in choosing titles in the MTBL collection. A digital
loan policy was developed and sent to the State Library Commission for review
- MTBL partnered with the Montana Veteran’s Administration’s VIST
(Visual Impaired Services Team) program and then worked to identify and notify
all qualified veterans of the availability of this new digital service. MTBL
staff attended a “Vision Fair” sponsored by VIST to discuss the
service with patrons attending the fair from the far corners of Montana and
to develop plans for training the VIST staff to assist veterans with MTBL
- The Montana Talking Book Library (MTBL) participated in an National Library Service Braille and Recorded Download (BARD) Survey in February on the preparedness of our library to transition to digital formats. Training of employees on the use of BARD services continued in preparation for new patrons wishing to use this online digital download book service.