TLA Digital Conversation Lands in Clute, Texas

The Texas Library Association’s “Digital Conversations” tour stopped in Clute, Texas on May 9, at the Brazosport Center for the Arts. The panelists presented some of their programs and work, highlighting the need to close the digital divide.

With people participating from Brazoria County, Clute, and the Houston area, the event was well-attended, and a spirited question and answer session followed the presentations.

The conversation was focused on digital opportunity and how libraries can evolve and adapt to fulfill needs in the community. Each panelist shared their unique perspective and valuable insight:

Andrea Pacheco and Lauren Weber, Digital Opportunity Outreach Coordinators, Texas Broadband Development Office (BDO)

Andrea and Lauren unveiled their new online Texas Digital Opportunity Hub, a website that provides substantial data about the digital divide and community-based resources to encourage partnerships. With unprecedented funding for broadband infrastructure and accessibility on the way, the BDO will have much more to say in the coming weeks. The BDO will also be in Wichita Falls on June 7 with further updates on the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program.

Ana Frade, Project Coordinator, Mayor’s Office for Adult Literacy, Houston Public Library

Ana spoke about her role in supporting adult digital literacy efforts in the Houston area. She emphasized the positive community impacts of higher literacy levels and had some innovative ideas about creating partnerships to tackle the adult literacy issue. She stressed the importance of marketing and outreach to create awareness.

Lisa Loranc, Library Director, Brazoria County Public Library

Lisa Loranc shared her experiences of using Brazoria County libraries as emergency response resources in the community, providing hotspots and generators in urgent situations. She transformed libraries into “cooling centers” for the public during summer heat-waves.  She also talked about changing the perception of libraries and how she created a “Library of Things” where the public could check out useful items, like towing trailers or crock pots, in addition to books and traditional media.

Lakisha Bates, Director of Professional Skills Development, The Next Steps, Inc.

Lakisha shared insights on her workforce and military career and how those experiences guided her in creating digital literacy training modules. She also talked about some specific case-studies to highlight how her program was yielding positive individual results and how that is a net positive for communities. 

Clute was the third in a series of five digital conversations, with the final two events to be held in Alpine on May 31 and Wichita Falls on June 7.  Panelists for Alpine will include:

  • Warren Davis (TSLAC) – Moderator
  • Sheila Lalwani (University of Texas)
  • Don Wetteraur (Alpine Public Library)
  • Danielle Gallo (Marathon Health Center)
  • Sierra Sees (Connected Nation)
  • Evan Wolstencroft (Texas Rural Funders)

Please RSVP here if you want to be a part of the in-person digital conversation. It is free to attend.