REAL Celebrates 25 Years at MLA and the MOREnet Annual Conference

  • Published: Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019

In 1994, Missouri became one of the first states to request pricing for a statewide network consortium for libraries. Historically, pricing for Internet service was broken out for each organization participating. Through the work of the Missouri Research and Education Network and the Missouri State Library (part of the Missouri Secretary of State’s office), a new statewide library network, REAL, was born.

Through the REAL program, public libraries receive discounts on Internet access, a vital resource in keeping libraries relevant in the 21st century and helping Missourians level the playing field for online participation, educational research tools, job searching and career development.

A year later, in 1995, the Missouri Secretary of State secured funding for shared online resources available to the entire MOREnet community. EBSCO was MOREnet’s first online resource provider. There have been some changes in vendors and types of resources available, but EBSCO still provides the majority of the online resources. EBSCOL provided additional resources with its purchase of LearningExpress Library a few years ago.

The Missouri State Library secured funding through House Bill 12 in FY13 for HeritageQuest. HeritageQuest is a genealogy database that all members use.

These databases support the academic research of higher education students and faculty as well as provide educational resources to K-12. They also provide general research and literacy and genealogy materials. The resources cover a wide range of subjects and include a variety of sources such as magazines, peer-reviewed journals, historical documents, online practice tests and much, much more. The materials are age appropriate and cover a wide range of ages from elementary to adult.

Today, the REAL Program funds a portion of the EBSCO online resources and 100 percent of HeritageQuest. MOREnet membership fees fund a portion of EBSCO and 100 percent of the LearningExpress resources. LearningExpress Library includes Computer Skills Center and Resume and Cover Letter Builder.

In addition to state funding, consortium pricing of these valuable online resources saves the state of Missouri millions of dollars. If each member organization had to purchase resources separately the cost would exceed $10 million dollars (per EBSCO estimate).

As we celebrate the REAL Program’s 25th anniversary, we are grateful for the access to Internet services and educational tools it has provided to all Missouri citizens, and we wish it continued growth and prosperity.