Community Engagement and Libraries

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission has made community engagement for libraries a strategic priority. Initiatives include partnership development between TSLAC and other organizations, as well as the promotion of local, state, and national programs that offer Texas libraries the tools they need to engage more effectively in their own communities.

Library Community Engagement Advisory Committee

Providing general guidance and input on community engagement initiatives is the Library Community Engagement Advisory Committee (LCEAC), which includes representatives from all types of libraries. Current members are:

  • Jill Donegan, Director, Tom Green County Library
  • Laura Heinz, Head of Research, Instruction & Outreach, Texas Tech University Library
  • Mary Long, Teacher-Librarian, Plano ISD
  • Mary Jo Lyons, Department Head, User Engagement & Services, UT Arlington
  • Marc Marchand, Library Director, Burleson Public Library
  • Pattie Mayfield, Director, Bertha Voyer Memorial Library
  • Mary McCoy, Director of Library and Learning Services, Lamar State College
  • Faye Nichols, Director, Gatesville Public Library
  • Cherie Robinson, Library Director, Jackson County Memorial Library
  • My’Tesha Tates, Community Engagement Division Manager, Houston Public Library
  • Eve Waddell, Librarian, Gonzales ISD


Edge logo - white text on orange backgroundGET THE EDGE!

The Edge is a national program focused on helping libraries and local governments work together to achieve community goals. Public libraries use the Edge to assess themselves in three areas: technology, community engagement, and internal capacity. Edge libraries have successfully used their Edge results to show their community value and build a case for improved funding. You can learn more about the Edge here.


Libraries and Literacy

Libraries and literacy go hand in hand. Learn more about how TSLAC is working with the Texas Workforce Commission's Adult Education and Literacy Division to foster partnerships between libraries and adult literacy providers.


Thanks to a 3-year Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Texas State Library and Archives Commission has partnered with the state libraries of Idaho, Arizona and California to provide training and resources to assist public libraries in recruitment, management and retention of skilled volunteers.

Volunteer assists adult literacy student.

As part of this grant, TSLAC is offering up to 200 free VolunteerMatch Premium accounts to public libraries in Texas. These accounts will last the life of the grant. 

Modeled on the California State Library's successful Get Involved: Powered by Your Library project, account holders will have multi-year access to the benefits of VolunteerMatch Premium accounts, a special library online volunteer recruitment hub, a zip-code based widget that you can post on your website to direct potential volunteers to your postings, and customized training in best practices in volunteer management.

If you are interested in a VolunteerMatch Premium account for your library, please have the Library Director complete the online application.

Already have a VolunteerMatch account? You can transfer your existing account to this Project.

Libraries applying for accounts by May 1, 2017, will be eligible to apply for an exclusive expense-paid training in the fall of 2017. While this in-person training will be limited to 40 library staff, all VM Premium account holders will be able to attend numerous web-based and face-to-face trainings over the next three years.

Curious but not yet ready to commit? Listen to an archived webinar hosted by the state library agencies involved with the Get Involved Collaborative grant. 

All libraries are invited to explore the resources found in the Get Involved Clearinghouse. The website contains resources for volunteer management, sample job descriptions, training materials, photographs for marketing, and more.

Veterans and Military Families

Mother in fatigues holds and hugs child holding American flag.

Texas libraries can be a trusted resource for veterans and military families. The Institute of Museum and Libaries Services (IMLS) recently published a set of five key resources on its Community Salute page to help libraries and museums better serve veterans and military families.

Closer to home, the Texas Center for the Book launched a statewide read focusing on the veteran experience. Over fifty libraries participated in the project. You can also visit the Texas State Library Online Training Site to attend a 4-part archived webinar series on providing services to military and veteran communities.

Libraries wishing to partner with local organizations serving veterans can contact their local Military Veteran Peer Network (MVPN) Peer Service Coordinator. Locate your MVPN on the Map of Peer Service Coordinators hosted by the Texas Veterans Commission (TVC).

Libraries in the North Texas area (Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Hood, Hunt, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker, Rockwall, Somervell, Tarrant, and Wise counties and the Dallas – Fort Worth–Arlington Metropolitan Statistical Area) can use  VetConnectNTX to find nonprofit and government agency programs serving North Texas veterans. VetConnectNTX, a project of the North Texas Veterans Funders Collaborative, invites area libraries providing veterans services and programming to apply for listing in the directory. For information, contact Amie Morgan at 214.750.1884, or  Additional directories have been created by individual libraries, including at Austin Community College and Texas State University – San Marcos. To find additional libguides on veterans resources nationwide, search the LibGuides Community website.

Libraries serving veteran entrepreneurs may be interested in the Veteran Entrepreneur Program, a TVC program that provides training and technical assistance to veterans starting small businesses.

The California State Library's Veterans Connect @ The Library initiative offers helpful resources and programming ideas for libraries interested in expanding their engagement with veterans and military families.


Libraries are a welcoming place for job seekers and budding entrepreneurs. In many communities they  offer the only free internet access for people who need to complete online job applications, request unemployment assistance, or update their resumes. The Texas State Library welcomes opportunities to connect with local workforce boards to facilitate partnerships with libraries.

The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation

In May 2015, the Texas State Library held 3-day Harwood Public Innovators Labs in Arlington, San Angelo, and Houston. Focused on “turning outward,” the Labs were developed as the result of a partnership with ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities initiative. Lab attendees can contact the Texas State Library for copies of the materials developed for the Texas Labs. Interested in learning more about turning outward and doing the training on your own?

Outside the Lines

Outside the Lines is an exciting program that gives libraries the opportunity to show their communities how they are relevant to people’s lives. Participation is easy. All you need to do is to develop at least one special event or activity, customized for your community, during a weeklong celebration in September. This program was originally developed in Colorado, but has now spread nationwide and even to Australia! You can learn more about the program at the Outside the Lines website, and you can see examples of the programs and activities developed by libraries last year here:


Interested in developing a partnership with the Texas State Library and Archives Commission? Contact Jennifer Peters, Community Engagement Program Administrator, at jpeters at, 512-463-2214.

Want to Learn More?

Download "Community Engagement: It’s Easier Than You Think" tipsheet.

Join the agency’s community engagement email discussion list.

Don't miss this article (PDF) about community engagement and libraries published in Texas Town & City, the magazine of the Texas Municipal League!

Hear How One Library Flipped their Script. Pottsboro Public Library dramatically changed their focus in a 3-year period—from book depository to tech hub. Listen to Director Dianne Connery’s archived webinar.  Look for “Flip the Script: Changing the Direction of Your Library".

Page last modified: April 27, 2017