The Texas State Library and Archives Commission has delivered an array of crucial programs and services to libraries statewide in 2023, reaching communities large and small, across all regions of Texas. As the weather (finally) cools, I want to shine a spotlight on just a few of our recent initiatives.
In June, we announced that TSLAC had received a total of $9.1 million for broadband deployment. The project will assist public libraries across the state in gaining access to critical broadband infrastructure and services. TSLAC worked with the Texas Broadband Development Office (BDO), a program of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, throughout the development of the funding proposal. With funding from the U.S. Department of the Treasury through the BDO, TSLAC received $7.8 million in project funding, as well as funds to support implementation of the program over the multi-year grant period.
Our grants programs continued apace over the late summer, with the Commission awarding $1.13 million to libraries statewide. Starting this fall, 24 Texas libraries will begin or continue exciting projects with funding from TSLAC through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in Washington, DC. Technology development, bookmobiles and courier services, career support, tools for promoting digital literacy, and a wide range of other community programs are among the successful grant proposals totaling $1,133,135 recently approved by TSLAC. The projects supported by these funds represent innovative programs and services that will enhance the ability of libraries to meet the informational, educational, and economic goals of their communities.
Last month, we announced an additional $156,233 in grants for Texas libraries. Ten successful Texas Read Grants totaling $81,233 from libraries across the state and a $75,000 Library Capacity Grant proposal from the Partners Library Action Network (PLAN) were recently approved by the Commission. TSLAC’s Texas Reads Grant Program supports public libraries in their efforts to promote reading and literacy within local communities. Reading promotion programs are those that actively encourage people to read and to develop a lifelong love of reading. Libraries may also coordinate programs in basic literacy; early childhood literacy; family literacy; the ability to read, write and speak English; and to compute and solve problems at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job and in society. The Library Capacity Grant provides funds for programs and services that expand the capacity of local library staff to meet identified and/or demonstrated community needs through professional training and development opportunities. This grant enables library staff to learn, expand and/or hone skills needed to provide responsive programming and services to community members.
A new partnership with the University of North Texas (UNT) Libraries has made more than 4,500 issues of historical Texas newspapers from TSLAC’s collection, published from 1855 to 1930, available online through UNT’s Portal to Texas History. The TSLAC Newspaper Collection live and available for free. State Archivist Jelain Chubb noted, “TSLAC staff are evaluating the collection and will base digitization priorities on both the physical condition of the newspapers and requests for use.” Approaching 10 million newspaper pages, the Texas Digital Newspaper Program, hosted on The Portal to Texas History, is the largest single-state, open-access interface to digital newspapers in the US.
In August, the Texas Center for the Book announced its Texas Great Read titles for 2023. The Center chose Nell Plants a Tree by Anne Wynter, illustrated by Daniel Miyares, as the 2023 Texas Great Read Youth Selection and West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge as the 2023 Texas Great Read Adult Selection. Every year, the Library of Congress asks each state Center for the Book to select titles that represent the state’s literary landscape to highlight at the National Book Festival, an event showcasing the importance of books and reading. The Texas Center for the Book invites Texans to read Nell Plants a Tree and West with Giraffes and to take part in a statewide book club throughout the year by using the hashtag #TXGreatRead on social media. For more information on this year’s titles and how to get involved in the 2023 Texas Great Read Program as a reader, librarian, or community, visit www.tsl.texas.gov/greatreadtexas.
Many exciting things are happening over at the Texas Talking Book Program (TBP). In June, we announced a milestone achievement by its Volunteer Recording Studio. TBP has contributed 2,000 Texas-related titles to the Library of Congress National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) audio download collection. These titles, including books and magazines on Texas topics and/or by Texas authors, are available to NLS patrons nationwide via the BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) service, which provides materials free of charge via BARD machines or digital download. “We are all very proud of the work our volunteers and studio staff do to contribute to the NLS collection on BARD,” said TBP Director Ann Minner. “These folks put so much of themselves into bringing information and access to patrons all over the world. It is a privilege to work with them.”
TBP also partnered with Austin Public Library to create an accessible, Braille-enhanced StoryWalk® at APL’s Windsor Park branch. Now open to the public, the StoryWalk® is located at 5833 Westminster Dr. in Austin. A StoryWalk® is a permanent installation incorporating a children’s story that has been deconstructed, with each page displayed separately along a path for participants to read and enjoy. The APL Windsor Park StoryWalk® tells The Three Billy Goats Buenos story by Susan Middleton Elya. TBP provided the braille overlay for the Windsor Park location. This feature is placed on top of the permanent StoryWalk® display so that braille-reading visitors can touch and read along. The StoryWalk® is one way for Texans of all ages to combine literacy and learning about the many ways people read. Stay tuned for more StoryWalk® news in the fall! And check out TBP’s new podcast, Talking Book Voices!
For those of you interested in records management, check out TSLAC’s annual e-Records Conference, which we present in conjunction with the Department of Information Resources.
Be sure to plan a visit to TSLAC during the Texas Book Festival, as we will be open and holding official festival author panels at the State Library. Follow our website for details!
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