LIBGIS and the Bicentennial

In late 1974, the State Library announced that it would serve as the state’s coordinator for a major national effort to collect data on all types of libraries. The Library General Inspection Survey (LIBGIS), a program sponsored by the National Center for Educational Statistics of the U.S. Office of Education, was intended to “improve the reliability, timeliness, and usefulness of library statistics by collecting, analyzing, and publishing data from a nationwide basis” from multitype libraries. The results were to help libraries in planning and evaluation by comparing their statistics with those of other states. LIBGIS I, the first phase of the effort, was conducted among public and school libraries in 1975, followed by academic libraries in 1976. LIBGIS II in 1977 was the “first full systems operation” covering public, academic, and school libraries, followed by LIBGIS III in 1978, which added federal libraries, and LIBGIS IV the following year, which included “special libraries serving commerce and industry.”748

As the United States Bicentennial approached in 1976, federal funds were granted by the State Library to several projects celebrating the event. In June 1975, Eastern Illinois University was awarded money to study the relationship of reading tastes and lifetime goals. Interviews were conducted with a cross section of Illinois residents to determine the types of books that “had a positive effect” on the lives of respondents and disseminated the findings “so that they might serve as an inspiration to others.” The results were published in 1977 by EIU in a 100-page book, Illinois Reflections on the Bicentennial Year; What Reading Does for People. The roles of reading and libraries in the Bicentennial were also the subject of a two-day 1975 workshop sponsored by the Illinois Library Association. Funded jointly by the Illinois Bicentennial Commission and the State Library, the workshop raised awareness of libraries’ significance in the state’s Bicentennial activities.749

Another federally funded program helped children appreciate the importance of the Bicentennial. Large quantities of materials, including posters, bookmarks, and certificates, were distributed to libraries statewide for children who participated in the program. Another project, American Bookshelf 1776, created a traveling exhibit of publications that had influenced leaders of the American Revolution. Sponsored by the Rare Bookroom Division of the University of Illinois, the exhibit was such a success that its schedule had to be expanded to meet growing public interest.750