Fall 2007

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Growing New York's Statewide Internet Library

By Janet M. Welch, New York State Librarian and Assistant Commissioner for Libraries

Fall 2007 issue of Trustee

The Statewide Internet Library is an idea whose time has come.   Anyone who has searched for reliable information on the General Internet knows the value of a Statewide Internet Library. Up-to-date, in-depth, reliable information is not necessarily freely available on the General Internet.   Add to that the lack of quality control, proliferation of ads, and insecurities of being on the World Wide Web, and the shortcomings of the General Internet become clear.

New York’s Statewide Internet Library provides New Yorkers with round-the-clock online access to the information they need. The Statewide Internet Library has been tested via the very successful NOVELNY pilot project.  NOVELNY is available through more than 5000 school, public, and college libraries as well as remotely from any laptop or PC.  The infant Statewide Internet Library has already become a valuable resource that New Yorkers depend upon.  For many schools, it provides the only source of currently electronic and Internet materials.  It’s easy to see why. While the average elementary school library provides maybe 25 journal subscriptions, the Statewide Internet Library provides more than 300 – as well as age appropriate research resources, and e-books.  Local communities benefit from the program’s cost effectiveness.  For every $1 towards resources at the State level, local libraries would have to spend $30 to access the same resources individually.

Searches on the Statewide Internet Library pilot project skyrocketed almost 1300% since 2001 to more than 25 million per year. The demand for statewide internet library resources is there.   But New York is not doing a very good job of meeting that demand. Currently, New York State ranks 35th among the states in support for statewide Internet resources. 

New Yorkers need the Statewide Internet Library to grow beyond the pilot project. To be competitive New York must build its information infrastructure with a powerful Statewide Internet Library.   Ongoing, State funding is needed to provide more science and math collections for P-16 will enable students to meet the state learning standards and increase their academic performance; college level collections in science, technology, engineering and medicine to attract top faculty and students; and high end Research & Development and business collections.

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