Yes, We’re Open: Talking with the Nueces County Keach Family Library

Nueces County Keach Family Library staff on the front steps of the library.

We have received many questions regarding how libraries throughout the state of Texas are providing services to the public. To help answer these questions, we are continuing a blog post series titled Yes, We’re Open, which will interview library directors and workers throughout the state to provide snapshots in library response. In this third installment of the series, we interviewed Ida Gonzalez-Garza , Director of the Nueces County Keach Family Library in Robstown, Texas.

In Part 1 of this series, we interviewed Marisol Vidales, Director of the Hector P. Garcia Memorial Library in Mercedes. In Part 2, we spoke with Michael Hardrick, director of the Forest Hill Public Library.

In what ways is your library open to the public?

Our librarians and staff are providing virtual online services to our patrons via Facebook Video (Live). We also created Facebook groups for our Summer Reading Program and Family Place families to provide LIVE videos and important information, as well as the Nueces County Public Libraries YouTube page. Our staff has been providing our patrons an online calendar of events for all our virtual programming. Our services and activities include:

  1. Virtual arts and crafts activities
  2. Virtual Storytime
  3. Kahoot!TM online trivia
  4. Virtual Sensory Storytime
  5. “Goodnight” Storytime
  6. Virtual escape room
  7. Nintendo Switch Mario Kart tournaments
  8. Mr. Kippy’s Storytime
  9. Science and Discover online program
  10. Bookmark contests in July and August 
  11. Curbside services – books and audiovisual materials for patrons and free books giveaway 
  12. Conducting inventories at two libraries and weeding library collections
  13. Online book display– Patrons can place these books on hold for curbside delivery 
  14. Book A Librarian – Virtually. Ask a Librarian for help finding books, movies, audiovisual materials; basic technology questions; research guidance for business and finance; legal resources; and more
  15. Nueces County Public Libraries Monthly Newsletter
  16. Free Wi-Fi at both county libraries, accessible from the libraries’ parking lot
  17. Promoting Nueces County Online “Art Gallery”. Patrons are submitting artwork and promote on our library website to the community.
  18. Summer Reading Program virtual: We use READsquared (online reading program) and have great success with our numbers. During this time our librarians’ and staff held virtual events, missions on READsquared, writing prompts on READsquared they submitted to our librarians to request codes, and Zoom programs such as Austin Reptile Show (Registration Required) and held live videos on our Facebook Group with Magician John O’Bryant.
  19. We are promoting our ONLINE database resources. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic we decided to utilize our book and audio-visual materials budget to subscribe to new online database resources. Our county judge is knowledgeable in the services that libraries are providing and the technology we have to offer and wanted us to subscribe to more online databases, making them available to our patrons.
  20. Sesame Street – Ebooks
  21. World Book online (distance learning) Pre-School to High School databases (FY2020)
  22. Hoopla Digital Resources
  23. RB DIGITAL / Hoonuit, Universal Class and Transparent Language (FY2020)
  24. Libby Overdrive
  25. SimplyE
  26. KHAN Academy – 1,800 video tutorials, math, science, history, finance, and test prep.
  27. Ebsco Flipster Online Magazine Subscription
  28. Proquest Ancestry (FY 2020)
  29. READsquared  – Reading program to promote children, teen, and adult programming.
  30. TexShare Databases
Flier advertising that curbside services are available now.

How have your library’s policies and procedures changed?

We did NOT have a pandemic policy in place, so we created one and then revised twice with changes that we did not expect. But I have been fortunate that we have supportive county governing authority and our emergency management department has also been very supportive during this pandemic. Of course, I have a very young staff who have been adaptive to the changes and are trying to cope with the strain of the challenges in the workplace.

How have you adapted your library space?

The first thing that we did was request plexiglass for our circulation desks. We didn’t have any problems getting this request filled for our libraries. I have also submitted a capital outlay request for permanent glass to be installed at the main branch and small branch areas for aesthetic pleasing purposes, but I know that this is going to be an expensive request. Due to time and funding, I chose to ask for this separately for next year’s budget. The plexiglass is a little flimsy, and it may secure enough to last the whole year. We received distance markers for the floor and our public works department has provided signage for the patrons to see that it is mandatory to wear face masks on premises. We have also moved our furniture and we will NOT be providing seating for patrons to sit and lounge in Phase I-III. We will NOT allow patrons to search for books in the stacks either. We will have all these areas inaccessible to the patrons.  We are using our multi-purpose room to quarantine our books. Our library staff enters the library after picking up the books from the book drop boxes, and they immediately quarantine the materials. We have also removed all our chairs for our seating areas so that when we open to the general public, they do not stay. We do not have any idea when this is going to happen. We still have a high rate of COVID-19 cases being reported and many deaths. We will be ready when this happens. We keep getting messages from patrons who want to know when we are going to open, and we tell them that we don’t know.

What services are you providing to vulnerable populations?

Our libraries are in the rural northwest and south, so we don’t have any homeless population at this time. Our service population is small, but we still communicate with all our school districts and offer our services to them. We have been trying to partner with our county community senior services department that delivers homebound meals to the elderly population, but it has been challenging. We are providing services to rural school districts that do not have the technology for their students. Our county judge had purchased iPads for the libraries to use while providing STEM technology training, and she asked us to allow the students in these rural areas to check them out the latter part of the spring semester. We may have to loan these out at the beginning of the school year to the schools that do not have any iPads.

How are you helping your staff during this time?

Nueces County is COVID-19 testing all of our staff for free, and they are also providing counseling. Our human resources department is very supportive, and they have sent us emails telling us to contact them if anyone needs help coping or referrals. The county is providing incentives to keep up morale, and try to keep a low-stress environment. 

Not all of our staff can work from home because of their job duties, and, since we are still technically open and trying to fill book requests, some of our staff has to stay in the library and work. The Keach Family Library librarians are working from home one or two days out of the week. All our other staff stays here at the library working.

Describe your decision-making process.

Our service population is 31,530, but the rural counties that do not have libraries may receive a free library card with restrictions. Our governing authority has never questioned our decision to allow people from other counties to use our libraries without assessing a service fee. The county judge and commissioners decided to close our libraries. We stayed working at the libraries, conducting inventory of all our materials at both libraries. Our libraries have been closed since March when the pandemic started. We are providing curbside services and virtual Storytime and arts and crafts for patrons. At the end of June, I contacted the emergency management department and asked if we could re-open for enhanced services and they said, “NO.” The numbers at that time were barely going up. At this time, we may be closing in a few weeks and going back to Phase 1 due to a HUGE increase in positive COVID-19 cases in Nueces County. I am very fortunate to have great support from our Commissioners Court administration and our County Judge.

How did you communicate with your governing authority?

I have a great communication with our County Judge and Commissioners, and they listen to our concerns. We receive directives regarding closures and re-opening stages from the Commissioners Court. We also have an emergency management department that is under the directive of the county judge, offering guidance to our department.

This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.

Nueces County Keach Family library Summer Reading winners sitting outside in front of yard signs that say “a library champion lives here.”

Accreditation and the Pandemic: The 2020 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report, an FAQ

We acknowledge the hard work that public libraries did under very trying circumstances to submit their Annual Reports for 2019. Five hundred and forty libraries completed their reports, only three fewer than last year. We know that this was a challenge for many of you, and we appreciate your efforts to provide this important information to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC). As State Librarian and Director Mark Smith published recently, we feel your pain; we are all in this together.

Having anxiety about potential loss of accreditation due to circumstances beyond your control is understandable. We recognize that this year’s circumstances are extraordinary and will require a considered approach to both reporting and accreditation. There are legal requirements relating to accreditation that our agency must follow. It is our intention to bring together our agency leadership and in-house counsel to review these requirements and determine the best way to proceed.

We do not have all the answers yet but hope to have a plan that we can share with you by the end of the summer. We have your concerns in mind and will be working on providing some concrete information as soon as we can. Be assured that we will work on a broad solution to help libraries the best way possible.

There have been many questions about the 2020 Annual Report and accreditation. Here is where we stand on those issues at present: If this FAQ does not answer your question, contact us at accreditation@tsl.texas.gov.

Q:  Our expenditures this year will not meet the library’s maintenance of effort (MOE). How can the library stay accredited?

A:  This issue is in discussion with staff here at TSLAC. Rules for accreditation are in Texas Administrative Code, so we must weigh in with in-house counsel as well as our commission. We hope to develop solutions and guidance over the next few months, including review by the Library Systems Act (LSA) Advisory Board in the fall.

Q:  We are facing budget cuts for the coming fiscal year or years, due to loss of tax revenue during the pandemic. How can the library stay accredited?

A:  Continue to submit the Annual Report. There may be indirect costs that can make up the difference. Alternatively, city- or county-wide cuts can form the basis of an appeal to the LSA Board.

Q:  Our library is closed for an indefinite time. Should we still submit an Annual Report?

A:  YES! The annual communication from your library to ours is vital for so many reasons. Outside of accreditation, the statistics we generate form a state- and nationwide picture of the role and value of libraries that should not be lost, even if our facilities are closed.

Q:  Our facility is not open to the public, but staff are working. Is the library open?

A:  Yes and… We expect to see fewer open hours on the 2020 report. Everyone is aware of the impact the pandemic has had on businesses, government, recreation, the economy, etc., so this will be reflected in the Annual Report. When reporting “hours open,” this is the number of hours the building is open to the public. You will have the opportunity to report the actual service hours–the hours that the staff has been answering questions, providing curbside delivery, cleaning, and weeding–at another place in the Report.

Q: How do we count library visits?

A:  Follow the current definition. These will be down since the library building is not open to the public. Curbside service will be reflected in the library’s circulation numbers, staff responses to questions will be reported in reference transactions, programs and attendance counts will be reported, as well.

Q:  All of our programs are now virtual. Will this be counted differently?

A:  Yes! For live programs that are held online count total or peak views. Recorded programs do not follow the existing definition but should be tracked and tallied for the library’s stakeholders. More information on this will be published on the Annual Report webpage, https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/annualreport.

Q:  We now leave our Wi-Fi on 24 hour and have expanded its range. How do we report this?

A:  Wi-Fi sessions must be tracked using software on the library’s router. More information on how to do this can be found here:  Count Your Wi-Fi Usage.

Free CE and Training This Week – Aug. 3-7

Weekly listing sourced primarily from Wyoming State Library Training Calendar with free training online, and free Texas workshops, updated as new events are added. See what’s happening on the CE calendar. Confirm the date and time when you register, or follow links for archive information. Events listed in Central Time


Monday, Aug. 3 (9-12:30 p.m.)
Examining the Role of Libraries on Broadband Adoption and Literacy

This Public Notice announces that the Digital Empowerment and Inclusion Working Group of the Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment (ACDDE) and the Media Bureau will host a  virtual workshop to examine the role of U.S. libraries as community hubs to drive digital adoption and literacy on August 3, 2020, from 10:00 am to 1:30 pm EST (9am-12:30pm CST).  The workshop will be convened via WebEx in light of travel restrictions and other concerns related to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The workshop will be available to the public via live feed from the FCC’s web page at www.fcc.gov/live.   

The workshop will feature frontline experts from libraries, academia, and civil society organizations who will discuss efforts to support underserved rural and urban communities’ acquisition of digital skills.  Experts will consider what constitutes digital inclusion today and the role of libraries and public-private partnerships.  The workshop will also address the impact of COVID-19 on advancing digital inclusion, as well as the impact of various local, state, and federal interventions in the last few months.

For more information, visit: https://connectednation.org/blog/2020/07/06/advisory-committee-on-diversity-and-digital-empowerment-to-convene-august-3-workshop-examining-the-role-of-libraries-on-broadband-adoption-and-literacy/


Tuesday, Aug. 4 (10:30-11:15 a.m.)
Social Media for All of Us: Creating Digital Content That’s Inclusive and Accessible (Nonprofit Learning Lab)

Have you ever wondered how your content is accessed by people who are blind or visually impaired? As web accessibility and creating inclusive communities becomes more prevalent, it’s vital to evaluate social media and digital content to ensure everyone can participate. In this session, we’ll give you the tools you need to take the first step. This will include demonstrations of some of the assistive technology including built-in voiceover, built-in magnification and JAWS so you can learn how to access online content.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.nonprofitlearninglab.org/webinars


Tuesday, Aug. 4 (11-12 p.m.)
PowerPoint: Faster, Faster, Faster! (Training Magazine Network)

In this webinar, a PowerPoint crackhead shares his mania with all of you. It’s an addiction, we admit the need to do everything more quickly, with fewer moving parts, and less manual repetition. Let PowerPoint do the heavy lifting for you! Microsoft spent billions of dollars streamlining the Office interface to be fast and efficient, but not too many use any of the really cool features. In this hour, that will change when we cover:

  • Five ways to fast track the PowerPoint activity that consumes 40% or more of most people’s time in PowerPoint;
  • The four types of shortcuts that enable you to fast track everything; Shortcut combos that work really well together.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.trainingmagnetwork.com/calendar


Tuesday, Aug. 4 (1-1:20 p.m.)
Quick Bites: Speaking ECCE: Early Learning Domains with Kate Brunner and Joyce Johnson (Colorado State Library)

Join us for a down & dirty introduction to developmentally appropriate practice and Colorado’s domains of early learning. We’ll talk about how to connect your early learning services to evidence-based early childhood practices and check out where to go to learn more about how to translate your library services into Early Childhood Care & Education language for families, FFNs, and other community stakeholders.

For more information and to join session, visit: https://create.coloradovirtuallibrary.org/calendar/


Tuesday, Aug. 4 (1-1:30 p.m.)
How to Create and Share Primary Source Sets (National Archives)

This new mini-webinar series is specifically geared to support educators who will be teaching virtually. Each 30-minute session will highlight a different way to use DocsTeach with students who are learning from home.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.docsteach.org/resources/professional-development


Tuesday, Aug. 4 (1-2 p.m.)
Playing by the Rules: Creating an Effective Volunteer Handbook (VolunteerMatch)

Learn how to create a living document that can help both paid and volunteer staff be better informed and know what is expected of them. A good Volunteer Handbook can also help you better identify and deal with challenging volunteers. Whether you’re just starting to create a Handbook or if you’re looking for best practices on information to include, this webinar will evaluate the Handbook you have and help you create a stronger framework for your volunteer engagement program.

For more information and to register, visit: http://learn.volunteermatch.org/training-topics


Tuesday, Aug. 4 (1-2 p.m.)
A Novel Form: Graphic Novels, Part II (Booklist)

Booklist’s second-ever Graphic Novels in Libraries Month, a program devoted to providing librarians with the tools they need to select, curate, and promote graphic titles for patrons of all ages, is still going strong . . . and this graphic novel-packed webinar (the second in a two-part series) is here to prove it. Join us and representatives from DC Comics, Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, Penguin Young Readers, and Random House Children’s Books for this free, one-hour program featuring upcoming graphic novels for adult, teen, and young readers—and get ready to #ReadGraphic all year long!

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.booklistonline.com/webinars


Tuesday, Aug. 4 (2-3:30 p.m.)
REopening Archives, Libraries and Museums: Materials Testing and Resource Overview (WebJunction)

Through the REopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums (REALM) Project, OCLC, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and Battelle are conducting research on how long the COVID-19 virus survives on materials that are prevalent in libraries, archives, and museums. Join us to learn more about the testing process, how to present results to your stakeholders, project resources to inform your local decisions, and what you can expect from the project in the months to come.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.webjunction.org/events/webjunction.html


Tuesday, Aug. 4 (3-4 p.m.)
Level Up: Prep Your Literacy Toolkit (Utah State Library)

Libraries across the country are discovering that large print can effectively support striving readers, ESL/ELL students, and children with special learning needs. Large print isn’t just a bigger font size. Compared to standard print format, large print books are proven to help with decoding, fluency, tracking, and comprehension. Hear from librarian, Tasha Squires, who has found success after embracing large print and partnering with teachers to bring large print books into the classroom. She has seen wider usage, noticeable reading improvements, and happier readers! And because we believe that every library can successfully build and promote their own large print collection, we’re giving all attendees a 5-step action plan and helpful marketing materials.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/o/usl-training-208844751


Wednesday, Aug. 5 (11-12 p.m.)
Video Tutorials: A Beginner’s Guide (TRAILS)

In these times of online and remote learning, it is more important than ever for information literacy instruction to be available through multiple media formats. This workshop will introduce free tools to create video tutorials for your students along with tips and tricks for making the videos on a time crunch! There will be a short 10 – 15 minute presentation and then time to practice, ask questions, and get a video recorded!

For more information and to register, visit: https://bit.ly/3feR1W9


Wednesday, Aug. 5 (11-12 p.m.)
The Magic of Appreciation: Build A Strong Relationship with Your Virtual Event P2P Fundraisers (Nonprofit Hub)

You have the power to transform a transactional relationship into a solid, long-term partnership! Maureen will share practical examples of ways to engage your P2P fundraisers, draw them more deeply into your organization, and help them raise more money. Whether you’re a virtual P2P event pro or if this is your first rodeo, you’ll come away with fresh ideas and inspiration.

For more information and to register, visit: https://nonprofithub.org/hubinars/


Wednesday, Aug. 5 (12-1 p.m.)
Live Twitter Chat on Creating Inclusive Communities

Join PLA’s Task Force on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice (EDISJ) for their next live Twitter chat on Wednesday, August 5 from 12–1:00 p.m. Central! The discussion will focus on creating inclusive communities through an EDISJ lens.

To participate, simply follow PLA on Twitter (@ALA_PLA) and log in at noon Central on August 5. The EDISJ Task Force will tweet introductions and discussion questions to get things started. To join the conversation, tweet using the hashtags #chatPLA and #Inclusion.   

To ensure a lively discussion, we’re providing the discussion questions ahead of time. So get ready to share your experiences and resources, ask questions, and learn from your peers!

  • How do you identify and prioritize potential BIPOC partner organizations in your community?
  • What can we do to ensure that the partner organizations we work with are reflective of our communities?
  • What can the library do to support and engage new patrons of different races, ethnicities, or languages?
  • Post COVID-19, how can we strengthen and leverage community partnerships to provide more expansive and inclusive services?
  • Post COVID-19, who SHOULD be included in discussions about library policies?

If you skipped the last live Twitter chat on EDISJ in library workforce, search #chatPLA on Twitter to see what you missed. To learn more about PLA’s EDISJ work and to read their latest statement and call to action for public library workers to address racism, please visit http://www.ala.org/pla/initiatives/edi.


Wednesday, Aug. 5 (12-1 p.m.)
REopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums (REALM): An Overview of the COVID-19 Research Project (Federal Depository Library Program)

OCLC, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and Battelle have partnered to produce science-based information on how long the COVID-19 virus survives on materials that are prevalent in libraries, archives, and museums. The webinar will describe the project activities, point to information resources, and discuss findings from the first phase of laboratory testing.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.fdlp.gov/about-the-fdlp/fdlp-events-calendar


Wednesday, Aug. 5 (12-1 p.m.)
COVID-19: How to Cope with Ongoing Isolation (SirsiDynix)

Join Brigham Young University psychology and neuroscience professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad as she shares her insight into how social distancing practices are affecting our minds, why relationships are important, and helpful habits we can implement to cope.

For more information and to register, visit: https://bit.ly/2X5sBYX


Wednesday, Aug. 5 (12-1 p.m.)
Data Visualization Tools (IdealWare)

Data can be hard to decipher when it’s listed in a table or as a string of numbers. In this webinar, we’ll show you the kinds of tools available to help you not only make your data attractive and interesting, but that will help you analyze your data for trends and surprises.

For more information and to register, visit: https://techimpact.org/events/


Wednesday, Aug. 5 (1-2 p.m.)
Telling the Story of Volunteer Impact (VolunteerMatch)

This webinar will help you move past number of volunteers and number of hours and start telling the real story. You’ll learn about information gathering and the key components to good storytelling, how to evaluate your current measurements and how to build support for a more thorough measurement and evaluation program, and how to engage other staff – paid and volunteer – in this work. You’ll also receive a worksheet to help you begin to tell the story of volunteer impact in your organization.

For more information and to register, visit: http://learn.volunteermatch.org/training-topics


Wednesday, Aug. 5 (1-2 p.m.)
Introduction to Finding Grants (Candid Learning)

Are you new to the field of grantseeking? Discover what funders are looking for in nonprofits seeking grants and how to find potential funders in this introductory course.

For more information and to register, visit: https://tinyurl.com/y4t736p6


Wednesday, Aug. 5 (1-2 p.m.)
Foundations: Information Literacy and Primary Sources (Library of Congress)

Information literacy involves multiple skills, including examining information sources in a variety of media; evaluating claims and evidence; identifying bias; and researching for additional information. In this interactive webinar, participants will apply these information literacy skills to historical primary sources from the Library of Congress and reflect on how these strategies may be used with their students.

For more information and to register, visit: https://tinyurl.com/y372hv5f


Wednesday, Aug. 5 (1-2 p.m.)
Roles for Medical Librarians in Graphic Medicine: Discovery, Access, and Beyond (National Network of Libraries of Medicine)

Join Medical Librarians to hear about how they use Graphic Medicine in their work with colleagues, students, and staff. Panel participants will also discuss the past, current and future role of Medical Librarians in the Graphic Medicine Community and take questions from attendees.

For more information and to register, visit: https://nnlm.gov/training/classes-by-availability-scheduled


Wednesday, Aug. 5 (2-3 p.m.)
The Power of Your School Librarian in a COVID-19 World: Harnessing Technology, Literacy, and Community (Saddleback Educational Publishing)

As you prepare for a school year like no other and seek resources to effectively utilize technology, develop literacy, and build community relationships, look no further than your school librarian. Join Washington, D.C., public school librarians K.C. Boyd, Sherri Jones, and Christopher Stewart for this FREE webinar where they will highlight the extraordinary knowledge and tools librarians bring to our new schooling reality. From rolling out digital learning plans to distributing books and supplies, this webinar will open your eyes to the power of these often overlooked professionals during these unpredictable times.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.sdlback.com/webinar-series


Wednesday, Aug. 5 (4-5 p.m.)
The 4 Steps to Creating Intellectually-Safe Classrooms Anywhere to Level Up Rigor for Diverse Learners (Culturally Responsive Education by Design)

Do you want to keep your eye on equity, but not sure how to do it in a distance learning situation? Join Zaretta Hammond to explore common challenges, get tips on creating the right conditions, and strenthen your ability to support every student.

For more information and to register, visit: https://crebydesign.com/webinar-4-steps/


Wednesday, Aug. 5 (6-7 p.m.)
AASL Town Hall: Leading Learning (American Association of School Librarians)

AASL Town Halls return as educators prepare to return to school – in whatever format the learning environment may take. Join AASL leadership and your colleagues to talk about how you’re updating your practice based on lessons learned from the spring.

For more information and to register, visit: http://www.ala.org/aasl/about/townhall


Thursday, Aug. 6 (11-12 p.m.)
Positive Approaches to Addressing Problem Behaviors of Students with Severe Disabilities – Part 1 (AbleNet)

Problem behaviors interfere with student learning, educational advancement, interactions with peers and adults and school success. This webinar session, augmented with multiple scenarios of students experiencing challenging behaviors, will demonstrate: 1) proactive strategies for adapting the environment so triggering events are removed; 2) teaching new skills to the student that will replace problem behaviors; and 3) maximizing clear rewards for appropriate behavior.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.ablenetinc.com/resources/live_webinars


Thursday, Aug. 6 (1-1:30 p.m.)
How to Pair and Share DocsTeach Activity Sets (National Archives)

Discover how to use DocsTeach.org to help your students make sense of the stories, events, and ideas of the past with primary sources and engaging online activities.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.docsteach.org/resources/professional-development


Thursday, Aug. 6 (1-2 p.m.)
Pathways to Innovation: From Informal to Intentional (Bloomerang)

Carol Hamilton will share a design thinking process to help you create solutions that are grounded in the experience of your stakeholders and informed by their feedback through a co-creation process.

For more information and to register, visit: https://bloomerang.co/resources/webinars/


Thursday, Aug. 6 (2-3 p.m.)
Opportunity Out of Adversity: Digital Access in Rural and Small Libraries (WebJunction and ARSL)

This presentation will explore how one rural library has improved internet access in partnership with an internet service provider, hosted telehealth appointments in collaboration with healthcare providers and transportation agencies, worked with schools to ensure opportunities for youth through esports, and improved digital literacy skills for patrons and local businesses.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.webjunction.org/events/webjunction.html


Thursday, Aug. 6 (4-5 p.m.)
Building Resilience, A Pre-Application Webinar for Resilient Communities: Libraries Respond to Climate Change (Programming Librarian)

Join us for this free webinar to learn more about Resilient Communities: Libraries Respond to Climate Change, an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) that will help libraries engage their communities in programs and conversations that address the climate crisis. Applications from public and academic libraries are invited through September 10, 2020. Resilient Communities will provide screening access for five documentaries, $1,000 grants for diverse local programs, and professional development and networking opportunities to 25 libraries for 2020-2021 activities and events. A Resilient Communities Programming Guide, to be published this fall, will also be provided to support successful and creative implementation and evaluation.

For more information and to register, visit: https://programminglibrarian.org/learn

Friday, Aug. 7 (11:30-1 p.m.)

Facilitating STEM Programming in Libraries (Montana State Library)

Come learn how to facilitate engaging, fun, and educational STEM programming! You don’t have to be a subject matter expert to show how cool STEM can be – join Anne Holland and Stephanie Vierow-Fields from the Space Science Institute and learn how to engage learners through thoughtful questions, encouraging discussion, and leveraging the knowledge your patrons bring to the program. This is a hands-on online session – participants will receive Kit 2: Be a Nasa Detective from the NASA @ My Library program before the webinar, and will “unbox” and explore the activities in the kit during the session.

For more information and to register, visit: https://mslservices.mt.gov/ASPeN/Events/


Friday, Aug. 7 (1-2 p.m.)
Booklist’s Women (and Girls) in Focus Panel (Booklist)

Booklist will be honoring the historic moment of the hundredth anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment by celebrating the voices of all women, and girls, everywhere. In this free, one hour event, Books for Youth senior editor Maggie Reagan will talk with Camryn Garret, author of FULL DISCLOSURE; Julie Berry, author of WISHES AND WELLINGTONS; Amy McCulloch, author of UNLEASHED; and Kate Messner, author of the History Smashers series about writing strong female protagonists, what and who inspired their writing, and their efforts to empower the voices of all female readers!

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.booklistonline.com/webinars


Friday, Aug. 7 (1-2 p.m.)
Three Steps to Thriving in Chaos (Effectiveness Institute)

The turbulence of current events increases stress, drains energy and reduces productivity. In this webinar, you’ll learn three essential steps for not only surviving but thriving in the chaos.

For more information and to register, visit: https://effectivenessinstitute.com/events/


Friday, Aug. 7 (1-2 p.m.)
The 4 Steps to Creating Intellectually-Safe Classrooms Anywhere to Level Up Rigor for Diverse Learners (Culturally Responsive Education by Design)

Do you want to keep your eye on equity, but not sure how to do it in a distance learning situation? Join Zaretta Hammond to explore common challenges, get tips on creating the right conditions, and strenthen your ability to support every student.

For more information and to register, visit: https://crebydesign.com/webinar-4-steps/

HHH: Fiber

Logo for Henry's Hightech Highlights

I’ve highlighted a lot of exciting technologies in this blog series, but there is one out there right now that I believe libraries should be making every effort to acquire and take advantage of, if they haven’t already. Harnessing it will ensure that both the library and the community it serves will continue to thrive in the future. The technology I’m talking about is fiber optic cable connectivity.


Today’s highlight: Fiber


Social media giant Facebook announced earlier this month that they’ve been collaborating with a number of partners to develop a robot that can deploy fiber optic cables quickly over power lines. This dramatically reduces the cost of fiber construction.

 [Nerdy fun fact that I personally love: they nicknamed the robot “Bombyx”, scientific name for a silk moth. Get it?]

Computer-generated rendering of cylindrical robot on powerlines above an inhabited rural area.
Source: Facebook

Why is Facebook making an acrobatic silkworm robot? Around the world, 3.5 billion people are still not connected to the Internet. And for those who have access, average data usage per person is growing 20 to 30 percent annually, pushing current capacity to its limits. To address these issues, Facebook says, “fiber must be brought from the backbone closer to the end user.”  For them, that means pursuing innovations like Bombyx.

I, for one, welcome our new robot fiber deliverers.  


What is fiber?

To put it poetically, it’s light-filled glass connecting us to a better tomorrow. I’m inspired to describe it this way because of the book I’m currently reading: “Fiber: The Coming Tech Revolution―and Why America Might Miss It” by Susan Crawford. In her book, Crawford sings fiber’s praises and makes excellent points about why fiber deployment is the key to the nation’s success.

Cover image of the book, Fiber: The Coming Tech Revolution―and Why America Might Miss It, by Susan Crawford

On her love of the technology of fiber, Crawford writes:

“Inventors have found ways to encode stunning amounts of information on pulses of light vibrating billions of times per second, and then send that light on its journey through a channel made of the purest glass on earth.”

Fiber, Crawford explains, is a physical connection that needs to be distributed to each individual building for it to be harnessed. The same is true for copper and cable, of course, but fiber is more flexible and doesn’t require recipients to be close to a central physical hub. Perhaps the biggest advantage of fiber is one doesn’t have to dig the existing cables back up to make an upgrade. Those cables can stay where they are, and they last for decades. One just has to “swap out the electronics that encode and power the pulses of light,” which are easily accessible above ground. This means that fiber is almost infinitely upgradeable, and it’s why so many consider it a future-proof technology, unlikely to become obsolete any time soon.


Needed for the future

Many of the emerging technologies I have highlighted for HHH are ones we expect to be a big part of our lives in the future. And here’s the truth: they require fiber infrastructure to work in the first place.

So many of us use our smartphone in the outside world away from our homes, and we might be forgiven for thinking that wireless connectivity is a wholly separate technology from a wired connection. But they’re actually complimentary―WiFi requires a fast wired connection for it to work. Fiber, plus advanced wireless capability, as we’d see with the predicted 5G revolution, is, as Crawford writes, “central to the next phase of human existence as electricity was a hundred years ago.

5G means that enormous amounts of data can be shipped to whenever and wherever they’re needed. This allows the Internet of Things (IoT) to be implemented in our towns and cities to improve citizens’ lives, solving problems like traffic and the handling of fires and accidents, among many other things.

Fiber also enables Augmented Reality (AR). All that visual annotation occurring in real-time, or the piping in of live video feeds into our field of vision while we are out in the world―these features require fiber-enabled 5G connectivity. In her book, Crawford asks us to imagine an apprentice training in a remote factory using directions from AR, rather than having to go to the physical central training location. It means those in rural areas will have equal access to the same privileges as their urban counterparts.

Fiber/5G also allows for artificial intelligence (AI), driverless vehicles and personalized transportation, neural interfaces, persistent recognition systems, esports, and wearables.

And of course, telehealth. Crawford writes, “Every part of the health care system could be vastly improved by eliminating distance, bringing data, doctors, and counselors where they’re needed via communication networks, rather than making 330 million Americans travel to where these specialists and databases are.

Finally, Crawford thinks we may not fully grasp the value of having even faster speeds with fiber―particularly with regard to interacting remotely. Currently when we video conference with one another (an activity many of are having to do a whole lot more of), there are still lags when virtually communicating. Crawford points out that this delay means eye contact between people is not genuine. It’s something we humans actually notice, and subconsciously the interaction doesn’t fully satisfy us. It feels virtual, inferior. With the fiber-enabled higher speeds, we can overcome this dissatisfaction and unease. The closer we make our remote, virtual interactions feel like we are physically present with each other, the better the social connection, which could make a big impact in how we embrace the technology and use it in the future. Crawford writes, “Fiber will allow us to be present in others’ lives in ways we cannot now imagine.” 


Needed now

The truth is we can’t wait for the future to come.

The current crisis is revealing just how much of a digital divide we have in the United States. The alarm was raised long before the pandemic when it was pointed out that students who lacked Internet access at home were unable to complete their mandatory online homework, causing them to lose valuable educational opportunities and fall behind their classmates. Called the “homework gap,” this discrepancy and inequality of access created immediate disadvantages for many people. But in the times we’re living in now, with schools closing and having to switch to virtual classrooms, it means these same kids can no longer even participate in school activities at all. And, it should be pointed out, it’s not just Internet access that’s needed, but fast, affordable and reliable Internet access. Students may have an Internet-enabled device at home, but it may not be connected to the higher speeds needed to handle the video conferencing technology school use for their classes. What we’re seeing is that it’s not just a homework gap any more; it’s a learning gap. And we need a solution now. We needed it yesterday.

When public library buildings closed, similar issues were faced by many adults, who lost access to crucial services and opportunities. So many paths to success in life rely now on having online access: job search and training, healthcare information, communicating with loved ones, etc. Many people’s sole computer is their smartphone, and they must pay for data to access the Internet. Free available WiFi found at public libraries is a way to not only access the needed services but also to save money. Taking away the library’s Internet revealed just how many folks relied on it. Closing the library building and stopping the transmission of its Internet access is self-destructive. The community is stifled and starved, lacking in its source of nourishment to grow. This is why so many libraries are trying to lend out wireless hotspots and extend their WiFi into their parking lots. 

It’s not just the schools or libraries. A BroadbandNow report released in February said that only 25 percent of American have access to fiber, versus 87 percent for China’s 1.4 billion population. We are way behind. Everyone has a right to fast Internet speed right now. And those who don’t have it may suffer and become further disadvantaged.

Getting fiber to the library is a good start.  


How are public libraries getting fiber?

If a library isn’t receiving fiber, and no service provider is offering it at an affordable cost to the area, consider the following:

  • Advocate for fiber infrastructure to be brought to your community, either locally or nationally. 
  • Apply for federal E-rate discounts to afford the costs not only for special construction to build out the fiber to the library building, but for the cost of the Internet access itself.
  • Look for any existing fiber infrastructure in your community that can be leveraged. State appropriated funding in Texas helped support school districts in building expensive fiber rings across the state. We’re now seeing public libraries partnering with those same school districts to start taking advantage of their fiber connectivity. In many cases, the fiber ring was built so physically close that the cost to connect the library is minimal. Often in these partnerships, libraries join forces with the schools as part of a single consortium to apply for federal E-rate discounts.

Library Fiber for Victory!

Back in January, for this Highlights series, I created a set of updated World War II posters to empower library staff about using technology. 

For this month’s post, I’ve fashioned a new poster to drive home the need for more fiber in our efforts to close the digital divide as COVID-19 challenges us further:

On the left, original poster shows  soldiers carrying lumber beams to a bridge that's under construction over a river in the background. Other soldiers are defending an attack and an explosion has occurred in the river near the bridge. One soldier is facing the viewer has his hand up to his open mouth. Caption below says "KEEP THAT LUMBER COMING!".  On the right, new poster shows same soldiers now wearing the safety helmets and vests of public utility workers, and instead of carrying lumber, they're carrying fiberoptic cable which is being laid on the bridge.  The explosion in the water is labeled "COVID-19" and the gap in the bridge on the river is labeled, "DIGITAL DIVIDE". The yelling soldier facing the front now sports a badge with the library symbol on it.  Caption below says "KEEP THAT FIBER COMING!"
On the left, the original war-time poster; On the right, my modern update. Note the librarian issuing the clarion call.
Bigger version of new poster (Soldiers now wearing the safety helmets and vests of public utility workers carrying fiberoptic cable which is being laid on a halfway constructed bridge over a river.  The explosion in the water is labeled "COVID-19" and the gap in the bridge on the river is labeled, "DIGITAL DIVIDE". The yelling soldier facing the front  sports a badge with the library symbol on it.  Caption below says "KEEP THAT FIBER COMING!")

Additional resources

Library Technology for Contactless Service

[Interested in learning more about how libraries are ensuring patrons still get their needs met through library technology in the age of COVID-19? Sign up for an interactive discussion facilitated by TSLAC on August 18, 2-3:30 p.m. CDT: “Texas Technology Chat – Library Technology for Contactless Service” (1.5 hr CE credit). Register here.]

Originally, before the pandemic, new contactless technologies such as self-service kiosks and patron print management tools were developed for use in libraries for two main reasons:

  1. Make staff more efficient at their job
  2. Provide extra convenience for patrons

Depending on a library’s size or situation, implementing these features could be seen as merely perks, even unnecessary frills. They were often just nice add-ons, ways to make the library feel more modern and state-of-the-art.

It wasn’t too hard to level criticism at these particular contactless services back then. They could be considered barriers to connection between the library and the community it served. Using them meant patrons had little to no interaction with staff, thought to be the heart of the library. The concern was patrons might lose that personal touch that should go with library services, and the library itself would become more remote and distant. Soulless, automated machines would serve as the face of the library, replacing the crucial community-building work of friendly, caring, and human staff. Beyond the thinking in this regard, there was the added expense and staff training sometimes needed to implement this new technology. And for many, it was seen as an unnecessary reliance on new technology to perform library services that had traditionally been done by hand (and quite well, thank you) for as long as libraries have been around. 


And then the pandemic happened.


We’re seeing now that there is suddenly a new purpose to these contactless technologies: safety! No longer are they nice perks; they’re necessary and potentially life-saving.

One can now add the following reasons to implement:

  1. Prevent close social interaction with staff
  2. Prevent patrons from waiting in line or being forced to gather in small spaces with other patrons
  3. Allow patrons to minimize time in the library as much as possible

Efficiency (reason # 1) is even more important now if libraries are experiencing staff loss or volunteers being let go. With brand new safety measures and pandemic-related services to be performed, staff have less time to handle the basic services of circulation, public access computer management, printing, etc. To list just a few of the added tasks: clean surfaces repeatedly, fill curbside orders, present virtual programs, assist patrons phoning in to make appointments to come into the building, etc., etc.

Photo of library staff behind reference desk wearing face masks.
Photo details

One big change is there often needs to be less public access computers due to spacing requirements, ensuring patrons stay six feet apart. Having less computers means more demand, so a library needs a new system in place, if there wasn’t one already, that sets reservations and enforces time limits  –or needs to include more portable computers like laptops and tablets so patrons can use these devices throughout the space to stay socially distant from one another. 

To sum up: self-service used to mean efficiency and convenience. Now self-service equals safety

Decades ago, with the emergence of computers and networks, libraries had a significant phase of automation to convert their card catalogs to OPACs and ILSs. Now we are entering the Second Age of Automation. It’s not only the catalogs, but every library service that needs to become automated to make it contactless and safe.

To help guide you through this new technological age we’re living in now, Digital Inclusion Consultant Cindy Fisher and I (with the help of our new Continuing Education Support Specialist Tomas Mendez —thanks, Tomas!) have put together a list of products for contactless services.

Icon for Google Doc

Google Doc Link : Library Tech for Contactless Service

We organized them by the following service areas:

  • Circulation
  • Curbside
  • Returns
  • Document management (print, scan, fax, email)
  • Fund transference
  • Public computer use
  • Reference, patron assistance, information/research help
  • Third party virtual programming software (by subject)
  • General building safety

Here are a few of the innovative highlights from the grid that may not have occurred to some:

  • To make curbside more efficient for staff and convenient for patrons, deploy 24/7 smart lockers outside of the library building for patrons to retrieve their holds.
  • If a staff member can’t position themselves next to a patron’s computer nor physically take control of their mouse and keyboard to assist them, screen mirroring software can be employed, even on the staff member’s personal tablet held at least six feet away.
  • For a scenario with the least amount of contact possible within the building, patrons can bring their own device to the library and use an app to not only scan the desired materials for check-out themselves, but even automatically desensitize the RFID labels/detection strips via the same app before exiting. 
  • With the complete loss of in-house programming, employ third-party, resource-rich  online software to help conduct them virtually. This could be for social gaming, crafting, coding, to name a few. There are also services to provide live one-on-one job search coaching and homework tutoring for your patrons at their homes.

If you’d like to discuss the topic of library tech for contactless service further, please join our free interactive discussion webinar on August 18, 2-3:30 p.m. (all library types and sizes welcome!). We hope to see you there!

Free CE and Training This Week – July 27-31

Weekly listing sourced primarily from Wyoming State Library Training Calendar with free training online, and free Texas workshops, updated as new events are added. See what’s happening on the CE calendar. Confirm the date and time when you register, or follow links for archive information. Events listed in Central Time


Monday, July 27 (1-3 p.m.)
Planning for Reopening: FDLP Libraries Recovering from the COVID-19 Pandemic (Federal Depository Library Program)

Join staff members from GPO, along with the Depository Library Council, for a brief presentation on GPO resources, activities, and services provided to Federal depository libraries related to the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by an Open Forum where the Nation’s Federal depository librarians and staff will discuss reopening challenges and triumphs, services during a pandemic, staff health and safety, and more.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.fdlp.gov/about-the-fdlp/fdlp-events-calendar


Tuesday, July 28 (10-10:30 a.m.)
TexShare Vendor webinar: Finding Business Content in Credo Reference

Join Credo for a 30-minute overview of Business Reference materials in Credo Reference. By the end of this short demonstration, you will be able to:

  • Locate and search Credo’s business content
  • Create a bookshelf of favorite business reference which will be bookmarkable and linkable

For more information and to register, visit: https://credoreference.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_I98-XDdfT5ahJfUzbB6eOQ


Tuesday, July 28 (12-1 p.m.)
Beyond Virtual Facilitation: How to Maximize Engagement and Tackle Wicked Problems in Your Virtual Meetings (Charity How To)

Join us for a hands-on training where you will learn the virtual facilitation tools, tips, and tricks needed to build trust, spark ideas, and foster collaboration in your virtual meetings.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.charityhowto.com/nonprofit-live-webinars/free


Tuesday, July 28 (12-1 p.m.)
Keys to a Successful Virtual Event — Building Community and Beating the Fundraising Goal: How We Did It (Bloomerang)

Lisa Schra, Advancement Director at Living Stones Academy, and Paul Hart, a long-time brand and communication volunteer at LSA, will share about their recent “Stones of Hope” gala-type fundraising event. Through this event, Living Stones saw an increase of 50+% in revenue and attendance. They will share their suggestions for helping you make a similarly successful event.

For more information and to register, visit: https://bloomerang.co/resources/webinars/


Tuesday, July 28 (12-1 p.m.)
Is It an Allergy, Cold, or COVID? Finding Answers With Federal Health Resources (Federal Depository Library Program)

The Federal Government produces and hosts large quantities of health information for users at all levels. Whether you need easy recipes for kids or COVID-19 studies, there is something for everyone. Learn which agencies have the information you need, including some sources that might surprise you.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.fdlp.gov/about-the-fdlp/fdlp-events-calendar


Tuesday, July 28 (1:30-2:30 p.m.)
How to Avoid Fundraising’s Quiet Killer: Donor Attrition (Firespring)

In this session, Jay will help us learn how to step off of the donor acquisition treadmill and start revving up donor retention. Seven out of 10 donors give only once, but this doesn’t have to be your reality. Jay will help us understand how a 10% increase in donor retention will more than double the lifetime value of a donor and minimize our reliance on producing constant appeals for new donors.

For more information and to register, visit: https://firespring.com/webinars/


Tuesday, July 28 (2-3 p.m.)
Whose Turn Is It, Anyway? Online Board Gaming and Libraries (WebJunction)

This webinar will explore how to make the transition to online board gaming, moderate meetups, and facilitate discussions among participants. The session will be applicable to those looking to move online and anyone interested in starting their first gaming group.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.webjunction.org/events/webjunction.html


Wednesday, July 29 (9-10 a.m.)
Social Media: How many accounts do I really need? (Indiana State Library)

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr … how many social media accounts does one library need, anyway?  And how can you make the most of them with limited time and money?  We’ll give you basic social media best practices for libraries, then delve into the specifics of Facebook so you can learn how to make the right posts at the right time to reach further than ever.

For more information and to register, visit: https://bit.ly/2NH0Ocg


Wednesday, July 29 (10-11 a.m.)
Pretty Sweet Tech (Nebraska Library Commission)

Special monthly episodes of NCompass Live! Join the NLC’s Technology Innovation Librarian, Amanda Sweet, as she guides us through the world of library-related Pretty Sweet Tech.

For more information and to register, visit: http://www.nlc.state.ne.us/scripts/calendar/eventlist.asp?Mode=ALL


Wednesday, July 29 (12-1 p.m.)
Sponsors: How to Find Them & Create a Win-Win (Productive Fundraising)

Join fundraising master trainer, Chad Barger, CFRE, for a workshop focused on maximizing sponsorship revenue for your programs and events (both in person and virtual). The session starts by focusing on identifying potential sponsors and beginning the partnership conversation. It closes with a focus on structuring win-win, long term sponsorship relationships.

For more information and to register, vsit: https://productivefundraising.com/event/sponsors-free-webinar/


Wednesday, July 29 (1-2 p.m.)
Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words (Library of Congress)

This webinar will provide insight into the life of Rosa Parks as well as highlight resources that can be used with students.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.loc.gov/teachers/professionaldevelopment/webinar/?loclr=blogtea


Wednesday, July 29 (2-3 p.m.)
Reading and Talking about Race: An Intro to ALA’s Great Stories Club (Part 2: Finding Your Voice) (Programming Librarian)

Join ALA’s Public Programs Office for a free one-hour webinar to learn about free ALA book club resources that can help us navigate these difficult conversations and critically examine race and privilege. This webinar is open to everyone, including representatives of libraries, bookstores, informal reading groups, or any other venue interested in holding thoughtful conversations about race and identity.

For more information and to register, visit: https://programminglibrarian.org/learn


Friday, July 31 (12-12:45 p.m.)
TexShare Vendor webinar: Market Your Gale Academic Library Resources

You’ve invested in an amazing digital collection for your academic library – make sure it gets the attention it deserves! Join this webinar to learn outreach tips to engage with faculty and students, discover marketing materials available to promote your collection, and discuss effective strategies for spreading the word about your Gale resources on campus.

For more information and to register, visit: https://cengage.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_lgt3XY_vQNiVOfG44giuEg


Friday, July 31 (2-3 p.m.)
Part 2: Citizen Science in the Academic Library (National Network of Libraries of Medicine)

Academic libraries can bring citizen science to the campus and to the community, whether through supporting the integration of citizen science into courses or by bridging the gaps between researchers, students, and community members. This two-part webinar series will introduce attendees to citizen science, provide tips and best practices for getting started and sustaining citizen science on campus, and showcase resources that can be integrated into citizen science efforts.

For more information and to register, visit: https://nnlm.gov/training/classes-by-availability-scheduled

IMLS Releases 2017 Public Libraries Survey Data

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has published the dataset from the 2017 Public Libraries Survey. This provides a look at public library use, financial health, staffing, and resources from reporting year 2017.

Cover of 2017 Public Libraries Survey

For over 30 years, IMLS has published this information collected from over 9,000 public library systems representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and US territories.

According to IMLS Director Crosby Kemper, “Libraries continue to connect with their communities and provide services that support the needs and interests of their patrons, including access to digital materials. We are pleased to share the latest version of IMLS’s annual survey, which shows that attendance at library events is up, indicating an understanding of what the community wants from their library.”

Highlights in this report:

  • There were over 1.3 billion visits to libraries by 55% of those who lived in an area serviced by a public library.
  • Programs and program attendance increased significantly over 2016. There were 5.6 million programs attended by 118 million children, young adults and adults.
  • Electronic resources continue to grow, and their popularity has increased. Public libraries offered over 463.5 million e-books to their patrons.

Texas State Library staff truly appreciate the librarians and library directors who contributed to these findings, through their submission of the Texas Public Libraries Annual Report.  This information is vital to policymakers, researchers, journalists and the general public, to help evaluate and plan for libraries now and in the future.

New Online Training Site!

Great news! The Texas State Library and Archives Commission Continuing Education and Consulting team has updated our Online Training Site. Our new site will provide an updated look and feel, will provide the ability to track completion of courses within training programs, and will provide more opportunities for interactive engagement with training from the Texas State Library.

If you had previously taken online classes at the Texas State Library, you will log in with your existing credentials. Your in-progress courses will still be saved; if you have questions, email us at ld@tsl.texas.gov.

Don’t know where to start? Go to the training support page to view further instructions and information.

Free CE and Training This Week – July 20-24

Weekly listing sourced primarily from Wyoming State Library Training Calendar with free training online, and free Texas workshops, updated as new events are added. See what’s happening on the CE calendar. Confirm the date and time when you register, or follow links for archive information. Events listed in Central Time


Monday, July 20 (1:30-2:30 p.m.)
Recommendation Systems (Idaho Commission for Libraries)

While browsing the internet you may have seen suggestions offering “other products you might like” or “people you may know.” These suggestions are made by recommendation systems, which use data to suggest relevant items to users. If you’ve wondered about how these recommendations work please join us for this informative session with BSU data scientist Michael Ekstrand to learn what recommendation systems are, where recommendations come from, how these recommendations relate to advertising, and how you can take (some) control over the recommendations you see.  

For more information and to register, visit: https://libraries.idaho.gov/continuing-education/info2go/


Tuesday, July 21 (12-12:30 p.m.)
TexShare Vendor webinar: Create Online Student Connections with Gale

Gale resources can facilitate connections between learners even when your learning community is working virtually. In this session we will review collaboration and sharing tools found within Gale in Context and Gale OneFile collections to support students and teachers.

For more information and to register, visit: https://cengage.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_DFHkYDZMSSCRkqunh3QL4w


Tuesday, July 21 (1-2 p.m.)
Fall YA Announcements (Booklist)

Already breezed through your TBRs? Why don’t you try some YA?! We have the scoop on some show stopping titles coming to a bookshelf near you!

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.booklistonline.com/webinars


Tuesday, July 21 (1-2:30 p.m.)
Library Research for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (Including Climate Change) (Federal Depository Library Program)

This session will provide an overview of print and digital resources available from geosciences governments (local, state, Federal, and international), societies, consultants, companies, and other information sources related to the atmosphere, ecosystems, lands, oceans on Earth, and their connections to climate change.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.fdlp.gov/about-the-fdlp/fdlp-events-calendar


Wednesday, July 22 (10-11 a.m.)
Creating Accessible Materials for Library Instruction (Nebraska Library Commission)

This presentation will provide attendees with information about why accessibility of instructional materials is important, best practices for creating accessible documents, and freely available tools for accessibility testing. It will include information about choosing an appropriate file format as well as considerations for making common file formats more accessible (MS Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, etc.). While the presenter works in an academic library at a public university, this presentation is suitable for librarians, library staff, and LIS students who work in a variety of library contexts. Anyone who teaches, is interested in teaching, or wants to learn more about creating accessible presentations, documents, and other media will find something useful from this presentation.

For more information and to register, visit: http://www.nlc.state.ne.us/scripts/calendar/eventlist.asp?Mode=ALL


Wednesday, July 22 (10-11 a.m.)
Finding Your Social Media Sweet Spot (Nonprofit Hub)

Join fundraising master trainer, Chad Barger, CFRE, for a workshop focused on utilizing social media to boost nonprofit fundraising. Chad will provide tips to center your messaging with a focus on telling the right stories, in the right format, on the right channel.

For more information and to register, visit: https://nonprofithub.org/hubinars/


Wednesday, July 22 (1-2 p.m.)
A Virtual Shout-N-Share Showdown (Booklist)

Collection development specialists from across the country will shout about and share their favorite forthcoming books in this lively presentation. Attendees will have the pleasure of hearing from Robin Bradford, Collection Development Librarian for the Pierce County Library System, in Pierce County, WA ; Allison Escoto, Head Librarian at The Center for Fiction in Brooklyn, NY; Sharon Fason, Adult Services Librarian for the Chicago Public Library (CPL) , and Sarah Martinez, Library Manager of the Nathan Hale Library in Tulsa, OK.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.booklistonline.com/webinars


Wednesday, July 22 (1-2 p.m.)
Not Another Recorded Webinar! How to use Recorded Sessions and Video to Enhance Learning  (InSync Training)

Recorded webinar content is a relatively inexpensive way to provide on-demand training content. However, it should be designed purposefully with the on-demand audience in mind. When should we record live virtual classroom sessions, how can we design quality, engaging recordings for on-demand audiences, and how do we use pre-recorded content to enhance live virtual sessions? Get out of the RECORD EVERYTHING rut by using this content strategically.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.insynctraining.com/virtually-there-series/


Wednesday, July 22 (1-2 p.m.)
Transition Planned In-Person Adult Programs to a Virtual Environment (Public Library Association)

In this webinar, community outreach specialists will cover best practices for programs, setting up accounts for maximum security and effectiveness (no Zoom-bombing!), program selection, and shifting staff to a virtual environment.

For more information and to register, visit: http://www.ala.org/pla/education/onlinelearning/webinars


Wednesday, July 22 (2-3 p.m.)
Custom Curriculum Creation and Copyright: The Basics (edWeb.net)

Most curriculum leaders aren’t familiar with the copyright protections of the materials they compile or the circumstances in which their use is allowed. That can lead to inadvertent violations, which not only jeopardize the curricula built upon them, but in some cases can also have legal ramifications. The good news is this risk can be easily averted with a cursory understanding of U.S. copyright law and the implications of using and sharing copyrighted information in the classroom.

For more information and to register, visit: https://home.edweb.net/webinars/


Wednesday, July 22 (4-5 p.m.)
School Librarians Can Save Democracy (edWeb.net)

Regardless of ones’ political views, there seems to be consensus on one political reality: America is dangerously polarized. Is democracy in jeopardy? If so, what role does social media play in our divisive public conversations? Are our emotional responses to informational content distorting our perceptions of reality? Are we getting smarter? Dumber? Or do these questions radically oversimplify more complex problems? In this edWebinar, Michelle Luhtala will present a case for the critical need for school librarians in every school, and the importance of equity in access to quality inquiry instructional experiences for all learners – not just for the future of education but for the future of democracy.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.edweb.net/emergingtech


Thursday, July 23 (12-1 p.m.)
How to Build Your Major Donor Portfolio (Charity How To)

Once upon a time, 80% of your revenues came from 20% of your donors. Today, that ratio is more like 90% of your revenues come from 10% of your donors. And, as Giving USA highlights, we know that in any given year, over 70% of contributed income comes from individual donors. Whether your nonprofit is large or small, Robin will show you how to build either your first, or your best, major gift portfolio to focus your efforts on the 10% of the donors who are giving the 90% of contributed income.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.charityhowto.com/nonprofit-live-webinars/free


Thursday, July 23 (1-2 p.m.)
Podcasting Using Government Documents (Federal Depository Library Program)

Participants will learn simple, inexpensive ways to start and promote a podcast using Government information as the basis for content. Build relationships with your community, and engage professionals in their research areas.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.fdlp.gov/about-the-fdlp/fdlp-events-calendar


Friday, July 24 (1-2 p.m.)
Making Difficult Conversations Easy (Effectiveness Institute)

This one-hour session introduces you to concepts that enable you to begin to “integrate conflict”—to walk into it and effectively handle it—rather than avoid it.

For more information and to register, visit: https://effectivenessinstitute.com/upcoming-events/


Friday, July 24 (2-3 p.m.)
Part 1: Citizen Science in the Academic Library (National Network of Libraries of Medicine)

Academic libraries can bring citizen science to the campus and to the community, whether through supporting the integration of citizen science into courses or by bridging the gaps between researchers, students, and community members. This two-part webinar series will introduce attendees to citizen science, provide tips and best practices for getting started and sustaining citizen science on campus, and showcase resources that can be integrated into citizen science efforts. For more information and to register, visit: https://nnlm.gov/training/classes-by-availability-scheduled

COVID-19 & Tech: VR/AR

On Fridays I plan to spotlight an emerging technology that has been pushed by the COVID-19 pandemic into more mainstream use, sometimes in ways that may seem surreal.


Despite the lockdowns, quarantines, and closures, the technologies of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) (previously highlighted in my HHH blog post series) have not been placed on the backburner during the pandemic.

Three areas where we use VR/AR more are to help us with our shopping, to encourage social distancing (while alleviating us of boredom), and to attend live concerts socially.


RETAIL & AR

When brick-and-mortar retail locations were closed and completely inaccessible, it meant browsing and shopping had to be done online. Retailers who deployed AR to assist shoppers benefitted from a 19% spike in customer engagement with customers becoming 90% more likely to buy when engaging with AR versus those that didn’t.  (Source: Vertebrae). 

Why this sudden love for AR? There are a few reasons. Shoppers need to make more considerations before making purchases, and as they can’t go to the store and actually check out the merchandise themselves in person, they are more amenable to things like 3D & AR to answer their questions and give them the info and confidence they need to buy. It helps that most are using their mobile devices to shop, rather than their workplace computers as they would have before, as AR is designed for mobile; for example, you move your smartphone camera around and see products superimposed within your home – something impossible to do with your computer at work.  When you’re already stuck at home while shopping, you might as well directly use your immediate living space to help you make the decision. And retailers have begun to notice. Recently, Etsy launched an AR app for iOS for the first time, allowing shoppers to preview potential art on the walls of their home.

Photo of a smartphone  pointing at a blank wall; the screen shows a work of art from Etsy appearing as if on the wall

SOCIAL DISTANCING & AR

Existing AR games like the massively popular Pokemon Go pivoted completely as soon as the pandemic arrived in the U.S. They changed their game mechanics to support and encourage social distancing. For example, more monsters were programmed to show up near the player’s house, competitions that used to require being near other players could now be played remotely, and anything in the game that pushed the player to travel out in the world and engage with other places (normally one of the mainstays of the game) was removed.  

Promotional image of "Pokémon Go Fest 2020" showing a photo of someone's backyard and cartoon Pokémon characters appearing. I have added a bunch of silly speech bubbles to make the charcaters ay, "Wash your hands!", "Avoid other humans", "Please don't leave your backyard!" and "Stay safe!"

As a piece of entertainment, Pokemon Go is designed as a diversion for its players, a way of gamifying the real world. As part of the fun, it encouraged players to interact with the environments around them in new ways (spotting, battling, and collecting monsters). So it’s interesting that the game adapted to the real world circumstances that prohibited people from interacting with their spaces in the same way as before. In fact, they actively performed the positive role of encouraging the same environmental interactions towards safety.


LIVE CONCERTS & VR

As a result of COVID-19, any kind of location-based entertainment had to be shuttered, and it’s taking time for many to reopen for attendees to visit again.  Live concerts are one thing that’s been able to continue in a new form via Virtual Reality.

One popular social VR venue, The Wave, recently announced partnerships with Warner Music Group and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation to produce concerts with their rosters of talent—a clear sign the music industry has embraced this technology. Virtual, live-streamed entertainment have actually become a new source of income for musicians and their labels. It’s cheap for the audience to attend, and the artist stands to make a lot more money than the traditional, in-person shows.

Animation showing a violinist in a motion capture suit performing live as a virtual avatar performs for a audience during a VR concert.

Besides the three examples above, AR/VR technology can help us in other ways during this time. As XR researcher and author Helen Papagiannis recently described:

  • It brings the outside world in (for example, take a virtual vacation tour of a famous landmark or distant location).
  • It helps us transform our immediate surroundings into totally new spaces that help us with learning, work and entertainment. You can use AR to make your living room function as your office.
  • It helps people feel less isolated in their homes – either with actual people via social chat and meeting programs, or by interacting with virtual humans.
  • It can educate and inform about the pandemic, helping us understand how it works and its impact. We’ve seen VR/AR projects that help people visualize the effects of climate change and air pollution (link forthcoming). Imagine experiences that show us how the virus spread and was contained, or the impact of nationwide lockdowns on the environment, for example.

THE FUTURE:

Here are three things to look forward to with regard to AR/VR:

Photo showing a man wearing Facebook's proof-of-concept AR glasses that resemble sunglasses.

1) We’re not done yet with innovations in this area. Just last week, Facebook Reality Labs (FRL) showed off a proof-of-concept pair of AR goggles that look like a compact sunglasses. No more big, blocky boxes strapped to the front of our faces. The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.

Animation of a man pointing to his sunglasses while singing. The lyrics "The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades" are superimposed.

2) If you’re getting tired of working at home, staring at your flat computer screen for hours on end, and attending all those work meetings on Zoom, you can look forward to VR providing you your collaborative workplace some day soon. Products like Rumii give us a chance to ditch our webcams and escape our distracting home environments. The idea is we’ll feel like we’re immersively inhabiting an office space with our co-workers. Plus, it will facilitate social distance and safety if necessary.

3) And lastly, coming soon, XR Libraries has used their recent experience of running an Emergency Workers POP-UP Childcare Center to develop socially distanced protocols for cleaning and use of XR. These new safety guidelines will allow libraries to continue providing XR (Extended Reality) experiences for their patrons.

Image showing an senior citizen using VR to view the pyramids. She's wearing a face mask and gloves.