The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) has announced the release of a new report, Texas Public Libraries: Serving Communities to Enhance Digital Literacy. Created through a TSLAC partnership with the Bureau of Business Research IC2 Institute at The University of Texas at Austin, this publication gathered primary data from main and branch libraries throughout Texas to identify areas of urgent need relating to digital literacy in communities statewide. This research was made possible by support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, with funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to support digital access and literacy in communities throughout the state.
Expanding the ability of individuals to access and use information and communication technologies is increasingly crucial for Texas citizens, communities, and economic success. This digital capacity is achieved through building digital literacy skills; providing access to affordable, robust Internet services; having quality technical support, as well as access to hardware and software; and making available services that augment digital connectivity. Survey results point to the ways TSLAC can best support local libraries’ digital literacy efforts as they develop resources around emerging and library technology, such as proactive training, technology planning, and local community partnerships.
The Texas Public Libraries: Serving Communities to Enhance Digital Literacy report documents the many ways Texas public libraries are providing both formal and informal digital literacy training to their communities. According to the findings, these efforts account for approximately $70 to $90 million in statewide investment by the state’s libraries.
“The report highlights the impressive work of Texas libraries and supporting digital literacy training in their communities,” said Gloria Meraz, TSLAC Director and Librarian. “However, the report also finds that libraries statewide identify significant unmet needs and point to the benefit of increased opportunities for training and resources. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission will use these findings to guide the development of programs at both the local and state level.”
Researchers conducted in-depth interviews with more than 300 librarians representing communities of all sizes. The full findings of the survey reflect policy and administrative actions that may be beneficial in addressing critical issues confronting Texas library staff who want to improve their patrons’ digital literacy knowledge and skills. Data from interviews and surveys identified gaps and challenges that exist, and those findings are the foundation for the recommendations of the survey.
The following are some of the recommendations included in the report that focus on potential action areas at the state and local level:
Establish a grant program related to digital literacy in Texas libraries
Foster mentoring and peer support for small libraries
Provide more programmatic attention to older adults/seniors
Create local public library partnerships
Texas Public Libraries: Serving Communities to Enhance Digital Literacy provides timely and essential guidance to libraries and librarians statewide as they work in concert with TSLAC to identify the best measurements and practices for building digital access. The full report can be accessed on the TSLAC website at www.tsl.texas.gov/digitalliteracy.
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission provides Texans access to the information needed to be informed, productive citizens by preserving the archival record of Texas; enhancing the service capacity of public, academic and school libraries; assisting public agencies in the maintenance of their records; and meeting the reading needs of Texans with disabilities. For more information, visit tsl.texas.gov.