Give yourself the Edge

A comment we hear a lot as we travel the state and talk to librarians is, “we need the State Library to help us tell our story better.” I hear a significant and understandable frustration among many librarians that their community does not fully recognize and appreciate what they do. And undoubtedly that is true: libraries are one of the greatest resources a community has to support literacy and learning, to create sustainable cities and counties, and to ensure access to technology and online information. But often we see that the library is underutilized and underappreciated and we don’t always have a seat at the table for critical discussions in the areas where we could most effectively contribute.

Edge is specifically designed to help libraries tell their story in the critical area of technology. TSLAC purchases access for every public library in the state to this highly effective tool designed specifically so that libraries can assess their technology readiness, make a case for local support, and demonstrate the important role they can play in digital inclusion and technology access. Edge allows a library to benchmark their work against others of similar size across the country to determine where they are ahead of the curve and where they need to improve.

Over 200 libraries in Texas have completed the assessment and many have used Edge to great effect. The San Antonio Public Library used Edge to assess its technology program and ultimately to argue successfully for $1 million in additional city funds to improve library technology. The New Braunfels Public Library, an early adopter of Edge, used the resource to evaluate its effectiveness in serving the community, a process that led to expanding services to key clientele such as disabled persons and eventually doubling the library’s bandwidth. In Pottsboro, Library Director Dianne Connery used Edge to demonstrate that the library is an essential service and stimulated the library to think about ways it could align its services with community priorities. These and many other success stories can be found on the Edge site.

Edge includes a toolkit of resources, assessment tools that are keyed to benchmarks in three key strategy areas, and a range of other resources geared to help libraries advance their technology as a critical element of the overall library program.

We offer Edge as part of an overall suite of services and tools libraries can use to both manage their services and to also talk about what they do and advocate for their programs. I hope that you will take time to explore Edge today and consider the many ways it can be of service to helping tell your library story.