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    19.2 Electronic Information Environment — Kentucky

    Kentucky's population is undereducated for the challenges they will face in the 21st century information environment. The average income per person falls in the lower third for the United States. The majority of Kentucky citizens do not have a college degree and Kentucky's full-time enrollment in higher education is one of the lowest in the United States.

    Under the leadership of Kentucky Governor Paul Patton, the Legislature and leaders in education have worked together to upgrade the state's total education system. In 1997 the Governor collaborated with the leaders in higher education to increase the percentage of Kentucky's population who have access to higher education. He allocated more than $167 million in additional resources to higher education during the 1998-2000 biennium to improve research initiatives, technology, development of the workforce, physical facilities and to increase financial aid for students.

    Governor Patton supported the creation of a new governing structure for higher education by creating the Council of Post-Secondary Education and gave them responsibility for technical schools, community colleges, comprehensive and research universities and, most recently, continuing education and the newly created Kentucky Virtual University. The Kentucky Virtual University was created in 1998 to help address the problem of access to higher education for Kentucky's citizens living in remote rural areas. The goal of the virtual university is to provide Kentucky's citizens with access to higher education both undergraduate and graduate, no matter where they reside, through electronic learning and online educational support. Utilizing any type of library, school, community center, or other computer, with on-line access, any citizen can have access to information and to instruction.

    The Kentucky Virtual Library (KYVL, at www.kyvl.org ) is a library consortium including all types of libraries. KYVL is funded jointly by the Council of Postsecondary Education and all participating libraries. One of the consortium's initial major initiatives was to ensure that all state universities and community colleges utilize the same client-server library system, Endeavor, to provide common electronic access to these collections. The Kentucky Virtual Library is accessible twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, from any Internet-connected computer and provides access to a variety of commercial, state and local databases for all citizens of Kentucky. Online tutorials help citizens learn valuable information skills. Timely document delivery, online reference services, cooperative digitizing projects and a common interface assist all citizens to have equitable access to information, including access to such databases as OCLC's First Search and EBSCO.