Idaho Commission for Libraries
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (May 2007)|
History of the Idaho Commission for Libraries
Early in its statehood, stagecoaches delivered traveling libraries to Idaho settlements, mining camps, and outposts. The wooden boxes contained volumes for every age and every interest. The "Traveling Library," the precursor to the Idaho Commission for Libraries, was formed by the Columbian Club of Boise in 1899.
The 1901 Idaho Legislative Session created the State Library with an annual operating budget of $3,000. Charged with organizing new libraries and improving existing ones, Idaho took pride in its State Library services. The traveling library brought a civilizing and educational force to 51 settlements - including large towns like Boise, Moscow, and Pocatello and small ones like Preston, St. Anthony, and Salmon. By 1904, 100 communities were receiving books.
By the 1920s, every major city in Idaho and many smaller communities boasted a library. Ten of those were built with Carnegie grants. These grants required local community support, much like private and federal library grants of today. The State Library continued to deposit collections of books throughout the state. In the 30s, continuing education to improve local library services began and continues to be in demand.
In 1957, the Idaho Legislature more than doubled the State Library's budget, allowing the agency to receive federal grants under the Library Services Act. With these monies, local libraries demonstrated innovative services such as bookmobiles and children's story times. These early grants were the precursors of the Library Services and Technology Act funds administered by the Commission for Libraries in Idaho today.
After the Library Services Act was revamped in 1964, federal dollars also went toward library buildings - the final construction grant was awarded in 1998. In 1973, the Talking Book Library began to serve people whose disabilities made it difficult to use printed materials. Today, special machines and recorded books are sent statewide to provide recreational reading materials to thousands of patrons.
In the mid-seventies, the State Library ushered in computer technology by awarding library automation grants. That legacy continues today through the Libraries Linking Idaho Network (LiLI). The network hosts the popular LiLI databases and statewide resource sharing catalog, paid for by state dollars. Plans for LiLI include the development of more statewide networking activities.
Effective July 1, 2006 the Idaho State Library changed its name to the Idaho Commission for Libraries and the Board of Trustees was renamed the Board of Library Commissioners. "The change in name reflects our mission to assist libraries to build the capacity to better serve their clientele," State Librarian Ann Joslin stated when asked about the name change.
LiLI (Libraries Linking Idaho)
Libraries Linking Idaho (LiLI) is an alliance of libraries and library consortia working together on projects and services that bring networked library services to the citizens of Idaho.
In 1998, the Idaho Commission for Libraries contracted with Himmel & Wilson Consultants to conduct a feasibility study on creating a formal network of Idaho libraries. Upon implementing some of the recommendations, LiLI was born. An advisory board consisting of Idaho school, public and academic library leaders was put into place to work with ICFL staff and guide LiLI into fulfilling its vision to:
- Offer services to all the libraries in Idaho,
- Extend and supplement local and regional resources and services to the citizens of Idaho,
- Build on the strength of existing networking and resource sharing efforts in the state, and
- Provide a framework for future cooperation that recognizes the diverse missions and strengths of its participants.
The first phase of the LiLI project was the development of the LiLI Web site to provide information about Idaho and Idaho libraries, provide links to information sources for Idaho citizens, and provide access to Idaho library home pages and online public access catalogs. The LiLI website, which was unveiled in October 1997, continues to be a central point of communication about LiLI programs and services.
In 1998 the Idaho State Legislature passed funding for statewide access to online databases. The LiLI Databases (LiLI-D) are available to all Idaho citizens. The service is critical to school, public, and academic libraries as resources erode.
The root of LiLI is cooperation. This is evident in the strength and growth of Idaho regional library networks and shared library automation systems. These networks provide the backbone upon which statewide services are based. Their continued development and sustainability are essential to LiLI’s future and the future development of Idaho libraries.
From the early stages of developing a website, to the implementation of LiLI-D and the development of regional library networks, today LiLI remains a cooperative effort. Together, the Idaho Commission for Libraries and the Idaho library community continue to improve library services for the citizens of Idaho.
- Building the Capacity of Idaho's Libraries! 27 Feb. 2007. Idaho Commission for Libraries. 4 April 2007. http://libraries.idaho.gov.
- History of the Idaho Commission for Libraries. 23 Feb. 2007. Idaho Commission for Libraries. 4 April 2007. http://libraries.idaho.gov/history.
- LiLI History and Background. 1 Jun. 2006. Idaho Commission for Libraries. 4 April 2007. http://libraries.idaho.gov/lili-history.