CORVALLIS, Ore. – A report by State Librarian MaryKay Dahlgreen found that 21 percent of Oregonians are not receiving adequate public library services, and of that number, four percent do not have access to tax-supported public library services.
These data illustrate a statewide trend in the shrinking investment in library services in Oregon, according to Terry Reese, Gray Family Chair for Innovative Library Services at Oregon State University. “The report underscores the fact that community library services exist within a volatile environment as local governments wrestle to adequately fund community services,” Reese said.
In response to this growing gap in services, OSU Libraries and the State Library entered into a partnership in April 2010 to build a resource specifically targeted to the unserved population of Oregon. The result of this partnership has been the development of a tool known as the Libraries of Oregon, which will be available to users beginning in March.
“I am very proud of the results from this strong collaboration between OSU Libraries and the Oregon State Library,” said Faye Chadwell, OSU’s Donald and Delpha Campbell University Librarian. “Both institutions share a common value that stresses making information resources readily available to Oregonians.”
The Libraries of Oregon is a multifaceted portal designed to help individuals connect with their local libraries, advocate for library service and connect users with statewide resources. One big step was making online library services available to everyone in the state, rather than just those who have library cards. Using geo-location, the Libraries of Oregon can tell whether a computer or mobile device is located within the state, and automatically allows those users to access their databases.
“In a lot of ways, the process of simplifying authentication is a game-changer,” Reese said. “It instantly improves access to scholarly content for all the citizens of Oregon, while at the same time, provides tools and services that all libraries could use to improve their own local services.”
Not only does the Libraries of Oregon make accessing content easier, it also connects users to nearby libraries, giving them access to librarians for questions, providing research guides and enabling users to locate free books, magazines and scholarly archives.
“Our participation as a library demonstrates our commitment to the university's land grant mission, especially on providing education across the state and sharing knowledge,” Chadwell said. “This was one way we could make a positive difference in the lives of Oregonians.”
Reese, Karyle Butcher, Chadwell and Karthick Subramanian of OSU Libraries all helped in the development of the Libraries of Oregon, and Reese said the work is just the beginning of an ongoing collaboration with the State Library.
“Both of these institutions share the same passion for Oregon and her citizens,” Reese said, “so we envision this partnership lasting a long time as we look for new and exciting ways to promote libraries, promote literacy and encourage life-long learning.”
The Libraries of Oregon portal can be found at http://librariesoforegon.org.