Assigned county population may be ‘not set in stone’

If you’re an administrator of a county-funded Texas public library, and if you believe that the library’s TSLAC-assigned population is unrealistic and/or making it difficult for your library to achieve or maintain State accreditation, read on.

TX Administrative Code recognizes that there might be cases where a library's assigned population may be unrealistic.

TX Administrative Code recognizes that there might be cases where a library’s assigned population may be unrealistic.

The current criteria for Texas public library accreditation includes requirements relating to the population of the library’s designated service area. In counties where two or more public libraries receive partial or full funding from the local county, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) applies a formula to calculate and “assign” the service population of each library within that county. http://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.TacPage?sl=R&app=9&p_dir=&p_rloc=&p_tloc=&p_ploc=&pg=1&p_tac=&ti=13&pt=1&ch=1&rl=71

According to that rule: When a library believes that the acceptance of county funding would result in the assignment of an unrealistic population figure, it may request in writing that the Library Systems Act Advisory Board approve an exception to the population served methodology. The board will use its discretion to devise a method by which data from the Bureau of the Census will be used to calculate the assignment of population served.

In other words, the statute officially recognizes that there might be cases where the assigned population may be unrealistic.

It’s important to know that the Library Systems Act Advisory Board (LSA Board) cannot consider your library’s appeal unless doing so is listed as an item on the Board’s meeting agenda.

To get the appeal on an agenda, the Board must receive your library’s request in time to comply with the legal requirements of the Texas Open Meetings Act. According to Sec. 551.044 (a) of that act: The secretary of state must post notice on the Internet of a meeting of a state board, commission, department, or officer having statewide jurisdiction for at least seven days before the day of the meeting. http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/SOTWDocs/GV/htm/GV.551.htm (emphasis added by this writer)

This means that an official representative of your library must see that such a request* gets to the LSA Board with adequate lead time to meet that legal deadline.

Since accreditation is a requirement of qualifying for State benefits in the upcoming fiscal year, the time for your library to appeal its assigned population is after TSLAC posts populations for the most recently ended fiscal year and before your library submits its annual report for that year since a change in that assignment could change many of your library’s responses and, ultimately, affect your library’s accreditation for the coming fiscal year.

Assigned populations for FY 2014 became available to all Texas public libraries in early January 2015. TSLAC staff “strongly suggest libraries complete their annual report no later than March 31, to allow staff time to check data. Final submission of the annual report is due April 30. A library reporting after April 30 risks losing accreditation.https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ld/pubs/arsma/index.html

According to TSLAC’s calendar, the next scheduled LSA Board meeting will be Thursday March 19, 2015, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., at TSLAC headquarters (the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building, 1201 Brazos Street, Austin 78701). https://www.tsl.texas.gov/calendar/agency.html

If your library wishes to appeal its 2014 assigned population, it would be wise to get your written appeal into the mail ASAP. Getting the item into the hands of that Board in time to get your appeal added to the agenda means it would be wise to plan on having it there by Friday March 6, 2015.

After your library submits an annual report and receives notification of its accreditation status, an appeal is again an option … and an appeal could have one of three results. Watch this blog for an article coming soon to address those points since you may begin to find issues while doing your 2014 annual report and need to begin considering an appeal ASAP in order to fully develop your case.

Review full, current statutes for the MINIMUM STANDARDS FOR ACCREDITATION OF LIBRARIES IN THE STATE LIBRARY SYSTEM at http://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.ViewTAC?tac_view=5&ti=13&pt=1&ch=1&sch=C&rl=Y.

*Suggested text for such a request is among the documents at http://elephantinthelibrary.com/docs/.

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dona is a consultant for public libraries. She blogs at ElephantInTheLibrary.com

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