REAL Program Vision and Mission
In collaboration with other publicly funded agencies, we will strive to connect public libraries with each other and with schools and universities through the Internet to ensure that public libraries are the center of excellence for information service to their communities
At the conclusion of the program, all tax-supported public libraries will have the opportunity to be connected to the Internet through MOREnet via a cost effective, size-appropriate data connection. Through their library's Internet connection, the citizens of Missouri will have the opportunity to access electronic information for research, formal and continuing education, business and recreation.
Extend the "information superhighway" to the local community level in Missouri by providing routine access to public service, civic projects, community information and reference services via an Internet connection to the rest of the nation and the world.
Provide a basis for interagency collaboration by laying the groundwork for wide-area networking of public libraries throughout Missouri. What cannot be accomplished by individual libraries can be done by working together.
Lay the foundation for community information networks shared by institutions of higher education, high schools, elementary schools, public libraries and government agencies.
Enhance resource sharing by delivering a wide range of information services to libraries that could not otherwise afford them (full-text resources, online access to library catalogs, electronic reference materials) that will permit libraries to serve their communities faster and more effectively.
Establish a new level of communication and coordination among libraries, librarians and the people they serve.
Train the Missouri library community in search tools, procedures and access points for providing high quality services through automation.
Through their public libraries, all Missouri citizens will have the opportunity to share in the National Information Infrastructure. This means that no citizens of Missouri will be left out of the information explosion because they lack the financial resources to provide their own computers and modems. Electronic mail is not considered within this definition of universal service. Libraries will provide patrons with access to information available through the Internet. We envision a state without "information have-nots."
Large libraries and groups of smaller libraries will provide their own mail service to and from the Internet rather than relying on MOREnet. MOREnet will provide mail service only for those libraries in remote areas where shared resources are either not possible or cost effective.
Research and document project activities so that we can support successes and overcome limitations in the application of statewide connectivity and ensure that future funding and use follows a technically sound and fiscally responsible path.
Any tax-supported public library will be eligible to participate in the General Assembly-funded portions of the program. A tax-supported library is any library that is funded in whole or in part through either dedicated tax revenue, as in a property tax-supported library district, or the general revenue of a political subdivision of the state, as in a municipal library supported from the general revenue of the city. The minimum requirements for tax support to be eligible to receive state aid also apply to this project.
Based on the currently public library district structure, there are about 145 tax supported public libraries in Missouri (not including the Missouri State Library and the Missouri State Archives) serving about 88 percent of the state's population. Of these, 120 have fewer than 25 employees (FTE) and 101 have fewer than 10 employees. Over 100 libraries have service areas of less than 20,000 persons. The 15 largest libraries in the state account for 82 percent of total library revenue. The challenge, then, is to bring the world of Internet to the 125 smaller libraries and the people of Missouri who live outside easy access to large metropolitan and regional libraries.
All participating libraries will be provided an Internet connection via a dedicated line. Dedicated line connections initially will require a local area network of two computers that meet minimum requirements.
Patron access for all Missouri citizens is the ultimate goal of the REAL program. It is important that the staffs of participating libraries become schooled in the features and access software of the Internet prior to providing patron access. Public libraries must be in the position to provide a quality value added, reference tool or service and not simply place a computer terminal in the library. The online databases offered through MOREnet permit a varying degree of group access so that library patrons will be able to use these databases directly, without further connection to the Internet. As libraries obtain their own electronic mail servers (either individually, shared with other public agencies or as part of a community information network), it will be their decision as to the level of service provided to their patrons. However, public access to electronic resources is a key element of this program. As such, library directors are encouraged to provide public access as soon as feasible.