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State Libraries in the United States: Identifying and Meeting the Challenges of the Twenty-First Century

Sandra Gioia Treadway
Major Professor: 
William C. Robinson
May 2007

Abstract: Summary-State libraries are important organizations within the library community in the United States, yet little has been written about them and students learn almost nothing about them in the course of graduate study in library and information sciences. State libraries’ contributions to their profession and the citizens they serve are not as well known as they should be nor are they appropriately acknowledged beyond their immediate constituencies. This study examines a sample of nine state libraries during the past twenty years - three that are highly successful (the California State Library, the New York State Library, and the Library of Michigan), three that are typical of the majority of state libraries (the Georgia Public Library Service, the State Library of Kansas, and the Tennessee State Library and Archives), and three whose survival was placed in jeopardy in the recent past (the Florida State Library and Archives, the Minnesota State Library, and the Washington State Library) - to highlight their role within the greater library community and to analyze their successes and challenges. Research was conducted in primary and secondary sources such as annual reports, strategic plans, newspapers, newsletters, library association periodicals, web sites, and other similar material produced by or written about the nine state libraries to determine what conditions or combination of conditions are conducive to state libraries flourishing and what other factors or combinations of factors might contribute to the weakening or decline of state libraries. Based on this research, this study offers recommendations concerning what state libraries might do in the future to make themselves more visible within their states and within the larger library community.